An engaging and memorable afternoon for all involved, Thursday March 24th marked HEC Paris’ inaugural Chinese Business Day; a unique occasion for Chinese and non-Chinese students alike, for those intrigued by or passionate about entering the Chinese job market, or simply those wishing to learn about Sino-International business relations. The whole event was organized and facilitated following the initiative of students from the Chinese Business Society. Founded in 2015 by 3 HEC Paris students, this student association aims to establish rapport and interaction with Chinese companies or companies linked with China.
Addressing the growing needs of employers
HEC Paris continuously seeks to establish links between students and companies by bringing new ideas to the table and creating synergy between the two contingents. Conscious of the exciting career opportunities available due to existing Sino-French relations, members of the Chinese Business Society thought it imperative to organize an event that would inform students of all backgrounds of the skills required to work in the Chinese market and present the job opportunities available to them; thus, Chinese Business Day was conceived.
An innovative set-up
With a 7-hour window, the coordinators put great thought into the planning of the event, so that as much as possible could be squeezed into a tight schedule, all whilst not compromising the quality of the experience. The day ran smoothly, leaving 80% of participants feeling ‘Extremely satisfied’ or ‘Very satisfied’ with the end product, according to a post-event student survey.
The afternoon kicked off with an opening speech explaining Chinese Business Day’s purpose and providing general information on the day’s running order. The workshops then got underway which served as an opportunity for students to learn more about 9 successful companies, followed by an interactive company-specific case study in which students worked together in groups. Participants then presented their findings, allowing a time for feedback from and exchange with the companies themselves. For an hour and a half, after the workshops, extremely motivated students had the chance to discuss with company representatives on a one-to-one basis.
The second half of the event began with an ‘Experience sharing’ workshop which took the format of two conferences: ‘Tips for Chinese students to work in France’ and ‘A Chinese HEC alumni sharing her career path in France’. The event came to a close with a cocktail for the students and companies. This served as another opportunity to ask unanswered questions and network with company representatives in a less formal setting.
Exchanging with real industry professionals
9 successful and estimable firms came to the HEC Paris campus to participate in the opening Chinese Business Day. To represent the diversity of HEC Paris students’ backgrounds, the HEC Chinese Business Society ensured that corporate participants varied in terms of their sectors and professional activities. Industries represented include: Consulting, insurance, finance, banking, law and fashion retail.
This event provided an invaluable opportunity for students to interact with some influential players in the market; both Chinese companies and international companies with operations in China. This interaction was facilitated throughout the afternoon by taking part in the case studies, company presentations, one-to-one discussions and the cocktail event.
Overall, the companies that took part were very impressed with the intellectual and professional quality of the students and their knowledge of and interest in Sino-Franco companies. Frederic de Castro, from Etam Group, explained to us that it was a great “opportunity to promote our group and its presence in China to interested students.” He added, “Moreover, the outcomes from the business case were very interesting.”
The following companies were represented: S2RC Consulting and Management, Francelysee, AXA, ICBC, Lefèvre Pelletier & Associés, Beijing Capital Group - Eurosity, ETAM group, Dentons and King & Wood Mallesons.
Maryline Zheng, current MS Droit et Management International student and member of the HEC Chinese Business Society, hopes that the event “will become an annual fixture”.
Maryline Zheng, currently studying the one-year MS/LLM Droit et Management International, is an active member of the Chinese Business Society, founded last year by three HEC students: Calvin Chen, Delphine Roullier-Paris and Xintong Xu. Maryline delivered Chinese Business Day’s opening speech and was implicated in the overall organization of the event.
- Why did you decide to get involved in Chinese Business Day?
I have always enjoyed volunteering inside and outside of my academic life. I find working on challenging projects to be an incredibly rewarding experience. Being involved with the Chinese Business Society allowed me to combine this passion with my knowledge and experience of China, as my parents are Chinese. Although I am not actively seeking job opportunities in China, I think it’s important that my peers hear of the opportunities available to them. It is also necessary to dispel any myths about working in China. For example, despite popular belief, knowledge of the Chinese language is not always required. It is vital, however, that students have a complete openness to other cultures.
- Talk us through the organisation process.
The organisation process was certainly not an easy one. Developing and facilitating an event on this scale has its challenges. The idea for the event was conceived in October and 6 other members of the Chinese Business Society and I spent the next 6 months working tirelessly to achieve the end result. Coordinating the companies present was tricky as we tried to ensure that there were a range of industries and sectors represented. However, I couldn’t have asked for a better team of people to work with. I think that our range of experiences and perspectives provoked interesting discussions and great insights into how the event should be organized. Our team was culturally diverse, with 3 of us coming from Chinese universities and the other 4 from universities in Canada and France.
- Overall, are you satisfied with the end result?
Over 100 students from various degree pathways took part, from very diverse professional and personal backgrounds. Our post-event survey shows that both companies and students found it very useful and informative. If they’re pleased, then we’re pleased. Although the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, there are ways for us to build on our success. Provided that there is another Chinese Business Day, we can strive to improve it for all participants. For example, we could invite even more companies for students to learn from and interact with. I sincerely hope that the Chinese Business Day will become an annual fixture, and I don’t see any reason why it won’t.
The following Chinese Business Society members were responsible for the organization of the event: Bastien Arnout, Ornella Bianchi, Yuan Liao, Mengzhu Liu, Shiyun Ou, Xiping Zhao and Maryline Zheng.
All in all, an enjoyable and valuable experience for all involved. We’re eagerly anticipating Chinese Business Day 2017!