Special Event on Women's Leadership
Special Event with WashU-Fudan EMBA Alumna Sunny Yi & Harvard Business Review Open Lecture Series on Women
As China’s first joint venture in management education, the WashU-Fudan EMBA program has ranked in the top 10 in the FT Global EMBA Ranking consecutively for the past six years. In the past few years of operation, the graduates have been in leading positions in various industries. Some other figures are even more noticeable – while the program’s rank of male-female ratio has also been on top, 100% of the 37% female graduates of Class 11 hold Director or above positions in their institutions (other classes all remain 60%+ on the Director+ position ratio), and Olin Business School also ranks number 4 globally on FT.com for “Top MBAs for Women 2018”.
Over the past five years, the discussion of feminism and women’s leadership has received unprecedented global attention and awareness in relation to women’s rights and their potential for development. With an aim of contributing to a more equitable social environment for different genders, Harvard Business Review China hosted the Open Lecture series at the Cadillac · Shanghai Concert Hall with the theme of “Women: The Truth that Never Goes Away” on April 20th. Six speakers from executive positions of renowned companies came to lecture on the topic.
“Finishing an EMBA program is not an easy task for everyone, especially for females, as the society believes it requires extra tremendous efforts and time management skills for them”, said Paul Shao, Managing Director of WashU-Fudan EMBA, as he introduced program alumna Sunny Yi and invited her to share her experience of getting to where she is, along with her advice on female leadership.
“I want to start with why I wanted to go back to school initially and why I chose WashU-Fudan EMBA program,” said Sunny to open her speech. She is currently the Vice President, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer of Adidas Greater China.
Nearly 11 years ago, she was a lawyer at a small law firm. After achieving management level, she examined whether her points added value in meetings and felt that even though she had sufficient knowledge of daily business practices, it was fragmented and lacked a systematic measure that could have led to more success for the firm.
She wondered: How are business decisions made from the different operational departments? With that question, she joined the EMBA program to find out about business logic. Soon after she started her journey at WashU-Fudan EMBA Program, she met a group of peers who shared a similar mentality in business. Her 18 months of study became an investment with high return, and the assets she gained helped her to quickly adapt her knowledge after she went back to work, setting her apart from others because she could speak about new insights with reasonable business directions.
Her role has transformed from being good at her own line of work to now also being a good business partner. On female leadership, she suggested that women should always communicate and try to get to a win-win result with their partners whether it is for a job or for their family. She advised to keep working, and in the meantime, find a hobby for balance and make life enjoyable so it allows work to be more efficient and sustainable.
The open lecture series began with an overview by Editor in Chief of Harvard Business Review China HE Gang, who detailed how important the topic is to the modern China – women’s roles in different fields of work have been prominent and surpassed many other countries and the world average index.
However, LIU Xiao, Vice President of Caixun Media Group, pointed out: “There still have been some problems such as gender inequality in leader positions and a glass ceiling for women to be solved in general.” This was after she introduced how Harvard Business Review China has been looking at women of all ages, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and occupations to help them solve specific issues encountered in life. HBRC has also been encouraging business leaders to take direct measures to break gender bias and strengthen their organizational diversity in China.
On “The Role and Influence of Women in the Labor Market”, FENG Jin, Professor of Fudan University School of Economics believes empowering women in their roles in the labor market not only contributes to their own self development, but also to our social development and overall economic efficiency.
On how to improve female leadership as part of her speech “From Fortune 500 to a Start-up Company”, KANG Yajun, CEO and Co-Founder of PhiSkin and former executive of P&G, Sephora, Claire’s, and Tory Burch, pointed out four keys: surround yourself with extraordinary people, maintain confidence and creative thinking, stay ambitious and assertive, and look forward to what’s ahead.
In “The Road Ahead for the New Generation of Racers”, Dharpan Randhawa, Senior Vice President of McLaren, shared that gender equality is one of the elements that can make the current male-dominated racing business more sustainable. Eliminating gender bias and encouraging more women to try and enjoy the sport or the company’s newly extended division – e-racing – could substantially help the culture thrive.
In “Dialogue: ‘HER Power’ Leads Social and Cultural Trends”, MU Qidan, President of Qiya Culture, used her own experience to explain the strength of modern women, describing girls from her hometown who helped preserve their ethnical culture through the intangible cultural heritage “Yi Xiu” – a traditional embroidery method from the Yi. Through Yi Xiu and sports, Qidan, along with the women she leads, is able to contribute to the economic and cultural development of her hometown.
Lastly, TAN Jing, the famous Chinese singer, presented her first public speech at this very special event on “Being an Efficient Giver”. Coming from a very small city in China, she was greatly supported by her mother and grandmother, and became a successful and outstanding figure in the music industry. She is now also a social activist who constantly works to promote women’s rights and children’s education. Along her way, she realized that to be an effective giver, one needs to not only have good intentions in the beginning but also scientific methods of utilizing good “female” traits.
More than 500 guests of Harvard Business Review China and Fudan University — including our alumni — attended the event, along with thousands of viewers who watched the presentations online via live broadcasting channels.