An INSEAD Gathering in Muo Du
In March 2018, INSEAD Deputy Dean, Peter Zemsky, the IAA Executive Committee and the INSEAD Alumni Relations team visited the NAA China and the alumni community in Muo Du which is a nickname for Shanghai by the Chinese people. It means The Magic City. No surprise that the INSEAD magic unveiled itself.
Professor Zemsky delivered an excellent speech on “Digital Transformation of Business and Society” and shared INSEAD’s latest digital strategy. He then hosted a panel discussion with alumni industry leaders and entrepreneurs: Remington Ong MBA‘10J, Blockchain Investor, Raphael Bick MBA’09J, Associate Partner at Digital McKinsey and Yu Zhou MBA’02J, Co-founder of Light Chaser Animations.
An INSEAD-style party, hosted by the NAA China, was the highlight of the evening with live music, champagne and dancing! A French alumnus, Julien Choulet MBA’09J, volunteered to be our DJ. His signature tune of the night: an ultra-chic re-mix of China folk music showcasing the beauty of NAA China: a perfect infusion of West and East.
As one of the fastest growing communities with nearly 1000 registered alumni, the NAA China has put every effort to gather and shape a strong team of volunteers.
“A solid core team of volunteers is the key to building and maintaining a great community,” says NAA China president, Laura Qiu GEMBA’11D.
“Without our star executive committee, we wouldn’t be able to host the quality events we do today”.
Leading in the Era of the Sharing Economy
Compared with mature NAAs like France, Germany and Singapore, NAA China is a fairly young community. Most of our alumni have very tight and unpredictable schedules. Some also have limited financial capacity.
With these challenges, the NAA China creatively shifted its focus to explore resources from our alumni. For example: Guido Milner TIEMBA’11J (Tsinghua INSEAD EMBA), CEO of Accor Group East China and Sofitel Shanghai Hongqiao, generously volunteered to host our 2017 Global INSEAD Day celebrations in his hotel. He also joined the Executive Committee of the NAA China to contribute more to the community. NAA China’s CFO and Membership Development Representative, Nicolas Labatut TIEMBA’11J and Emma Zhao MBA’15J who both have financial backgrounds also devote their spare time and expertise to the INSEAD community. Our IT activities are sponsored by alumni who run their own IT services business. We obtained various venue sponsorships including auditoriums for masterclasses, wine cellars for wine tasting events and cocktail bars invested by INSEAD alumni for social mixers.
Play Hard, Work Harder
The NAA China has three regional chapters: Beijing, Shanghai and South China (based in Shenzhen).
Generally, we host four anchor events and one to two monthly events across the three chapters.
Anchor events include Global INSEAD Day (GID) in September, an Annual Gala Dinner in December, INSEAD Giving Day in February and the General Assembly in Summer.
Each regional chapter has its unique resources and local cultural legacy to leverage upon: Beijing hosted last year’s GID in a unique ancient courtyard—“Si He Yuan”; the South China Chapter hiked the most challenging mountain in Shenzhen; while Shanghai hosted an “iW50” themed keynote by Juan Ma, Assistante Professor of Strategy, who inspired us with her speech, followed by a family and kids-friendly brunch.
At monthly events, the NAA China “upgraded” from drinks’ oriented events to including topics on life-long learning with social networking benefits. Fabien XU GEMBA’15D, an NAA China executive committee member volunteered to take care of the masterclasses and professional events. He has been working proactively with our school and alumni to source for guest speakers.
Riding the Social Media Wave
With WeChat’s popularity in China, the INSEAD WeChat public account was brought to life by the school’s marketing team. Often, our alumni voluntarily share INSEAD WeChat content on their WeChat Moments. It’s a very effective way to increase INSEAD’s brand awareness.
Also, we have five official WeChat groups administered by the NAA China regional chapters and the NAA China Entrepreneurship Group. Everyday, alumni post questions in the WeChat groups asking for help. With replies exceeding their expectations, they call our WeChat groups “The Almighty Groups”.
The NAA China explored another online platform “Zhihu” (a leading Chinese online Q&A website) to increase our brand visibility. Zhihu has recently become an influential and reliable source to search for information, well worth us sharing our experiences. INSEAD alumni have helped answer questions such as, “Why did you choose INSEAD,” amongst others.
Entrepreneurship Club @ Play
The NAA China has just set up our Entrepreneurship Club this year. The Club advocates ‘Business is a Force for Good’, and offers a platform for alumni to help each other with “elevator pitches”, “fund-raising tips” and self-development aspects including emotional intelligence, physical well-being and leadership. After all, we will become better entrepreneurs and better leaders, only if we become a better version of ourselves.