Coming to America
M.B.A. program brings Chinese executives to campus for yearlong study

Chinese Executives
Chinese executives in UTA's M.B.A. program tour the General Motors Assembly Plant in Arlington. The students graduated in December.
U.S.-China relations have come a long way since Richard Nixon’s historic visit to the world’s most populous country in 1972. Back then, supplying Chinese professionals with an American education to take back to their homeland was unfathomable.

Today, UTA is doing just that through a program that brings executives from some of China’s largest corporations to campus for a year of intensive study in business. The first group of 27 earned executive M.B.A. degrees in December.

“We are one of a handful of universities in the U.S. with a program like this,” said Dan Himarios, dean of the College of Business Administration.

The students, ranging in age from early 30s to early 50s, work for large companies such as PetroChina, Shanghai Tobacco, Great Wall Drilling and Western Mining. They take a course four afternoons a week for one month and then move on to another.

The on-site program is an extension of a partnership that UTA developed two years ago with the Chinese ministry responsible for state-owned enterprises. Under that agreement, UTA professors fly to Shanghai and Beijing for two-week periods to teach courses at two universities. Approximately 100 students are enrolled there.

The executives in UTA’s on-campus M.B.A. program take two courses in China before coming here shortly after the first of the year. Then they take a course every month except August and graduate in December.

Last year was the first time the Chinese students traveled to Texas. Their corporations picked up the tab.

“My company feels that someone should have knowledge for business abroad, and that is why they sent me here,” said Chen “Howard” Hua, deputy general manager for a nuclear power plant.

Bingjun “Benjamin” Hu, a division chief in the finance department for PetroChina, has enjoyed his U.S. stay. “I have learned a lot outside of class about American ideas and philosophies. This will help us in the future when dealing with American companies as we understand things about the people and the environment.”

The students found some courses more challenging than others.

“Being in engineering and science, I had difficulty with some of the accounting courses,” said Xizhao “Scott” Jing, president of an engineering and design institute for a Chinese national offshore corporation. “I just had to take a little more time to become familiar with the terms in some of the courses.”

Taking what they’ve learned and using it to benefit their companies is the crux of the program.

“The M.B.A. here will be very helpful to my understanding of management and business,” said Xingyun “Grant” Sun, division chief for the research and development division of the China National Petroleum Corp. “After 10 months, I have learned a lot about American companies and hope to apply this toward working with them in the future.”

Away from the classroom, their stay in Arlington was not a total culture shock. The students said many customs here are similar to those in China.

“China is more adapted to western culture than a lot of countries, so there wasn’t a lot of difference over here,” Hua said. “I think most of us adapted to it very well.”

One way they adapted was by adopting American names.

“It makes it easier for them to communicate with others while they’re here,” noted business Associate Dean David Gray. 

And UTA plans to keep the lines of communication wide open. Another 40 Chinese executives will arrive on campus in March.

— Jim Patterson

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