David is from Connecticut in the United States and one of the first international students to have gone through the MBA program at PHBS starting in 2017. He graduated from Brigham Young University in business management. Prior to PHBS, he led a team in Goldman Sachs for three years, before making the jump to China. As to why the big change in his career path, David said, and to my surprise, he felt that he was not utilizing his Chinese language skill as much as he would like to and would like to keep building those skills and broaden his network.
David lived in Taiwan for a few years, where he mastered the Chinese language. But his familiarity with the East did stop in Taiwan. His father worked at Huawei in Shenzhen for nine years and David had also interned in two firms in the city. One was a Chinese securities firm and the other a recruiting firm. Interestingly, David’s role in the latter consisted in recruiting foreign pilots to tackle China’s domestic pilot shortage. Beyond his personal connection to the city, David acknowledges his return to Shenzhen because it is a hub of opportunities where the technology to drive real change in business exists. “I wanted to get involved in technology and being in Shenzhen allowed me to have opportunities to see it first-hand. Technology in China, especially in Shenzhen, is unbelievable,” said David. One of those opportunities that David refers to is the internship that he recently completed with Walmart China. An opportunity that he said took place not only because he was in Shenzhen, but because of the network opportunities he had through the MBA program at PHBS. During his internship, David created the Technology Finance Team for Walmart China. In this role he explored the technology initiatives that Walmart has and how these could be applied to running stores more efficiently for a better customer experience. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to see technology from this aspect of the company.” But David’s journey at Walmart didn’t end there. In fact, it is about to begin. While many of us are suffering from constant anxiety attacks as we prepare for our thesis defense, David is already ready to take on the challenge and final step of his MBA program. That eagerness might stem from what awaits for him after graduation. In July, David will enter a two-year rotational program in Fortune 1 Company, Walmart, in their headquarters in the USA. This program is highly competitive and has an intake of about 10 students from the United States top management schools such as Chicago Booth and MIT Sloan among others. This will make David the first graduate from a Chinese university to be accepted into the program. During the program, David will rotate every six months and be exposed to different leading finance roles. “One of the biggest things is to learn from the extraordinarily talented people that work at Walmart and take in as much as I can,” said David regarding the expectations he has about the program. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity as this is one of the things I wanted after my MBA, to get into a rotational program. And again, this is something that would have not happened should I not be in Shenzhen. It was a great decision to come here and I wouldn’t change a thing.” Although he looks forward to starting at Walmart, David is now focused on preparing for the thesis defense at the end of May. Being in the MBA program meant that David had the option to conduct a case study, rather than an empirical paper as the MAs. As this is his first time going through a thesis process, David started fairly early last September. He chose Professor Ren Ting as his advisor, who earned his PhD in human resources and industrial relations from the University of Minnesota, given that his thesis topic aligns with professor Ren’s expertise. Through is father’s experience and connections at Huawei, David explored how hiring foreign talent is managed in Huawei, more specifically how of both parties expectations play a role in the job performance. David focused on managing those expectations by elaborating a more direct way to handle the hiring process of foreigners. David regards the thesis as PHBS as being a challenge, but he encourages students not to procrastinate and, instead, to be very active as early as possible. “The natural tendency in people is to procrastinate, but it is important to set small realistic goals, such as writing a page or two today, to get you going.” He attributes his success in completing the case study to his advisor from whom he learned much by constantly meeting with him. After the thesis defense, David will fly back to his home country to start his job at Walmart. During our interview David said, “I don’t need a pad on the back for things that I’m doing right, instead I want to know where I can improve and take things up a level.” It’s true that it is important to acknowledge your hard work and wins, but more important to look for ways to do better.
As the China chapter closes for David, he feels grateful for the opportunities that have come out of this experience, yet does not discards another China chapter in the future. By Seimar Solano NelsonEdited by Annie Jin and Priscilla Young
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