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Drive business to the company! Ensure your family’s welfare! Raise your son! Study EMBA! Write a blog…

One wonders why we do this to ourselves:
At some point of our lives – typically around the mid-thirties, some earlier, some later – we start to make ourselves busy.  While, as teens, we literally had to be dragged to any type of activity that barely resembled work, and the weekends seemed eternally far away at any day of the week (especially on Thursdays…) when we were in our 20s, now that the magic number 40 is in close sight just ahead, we embrace any activity that presents itself, voluntarily taking up more responsibilities in our jobs, tirelessly raising our children, re-activating one or two old hobbies that we had neglected for much too long and seriously think about adding another degree to our collection of qualifications.

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WHY AM I DOING PUSHUPS ON MY FIRST WEEK OF CLASS – Details below

And so as I am also at this point in my life, I have not only decided to complete an Executive MBA at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, but also to write this regular blog to share with you my motivation for joining the EMBA program and maybe solving the mystery of the busy mid-30s along the way. In the following series of blogs, I will however primarily describe my experience studying in a multicultural International Class at CEIBS and meanwhile also comment on life, business and current events in China.

My name is Michael Adick and I am a German native, born 1975 in the most Northern and rural reaches of North Rhine-Westphalia, where I grew up and lived until 1999, when I decided to relocaLET THE COMPETITION BEGIN -- Nametags at the CEIBS EMBA Entry Residency Module, with color, galaxy and planet groupings for the TechMark III Business Simulation facilitated by visiting Prof. Robert Engte my life to China. Since 2000, I have been working in Industry and Management Consulting and have been based in Shanghai for the entire time. I am married with a 3.5-year-old son and my hobbies are golf, scuba diving, travelling, listening to classical music and reading contemporary fiction and non-fiction literature, meanwhile trying to stay on top of the exciting new mobile internet technology that currently develops so rapidly.

I joined the CEIBS EMBA 2011 Program in March – although having planned it for around 7 years already – literally in the last minute. It was a split-second decision, because of many considerations around how to balance work, studies and family life. After having obtained full buy-in both from my wife and my employer, I finally could go ahead fulfilling my long-held dream to pursue an EMBA.

CEIBS EMBA 2011 International Class (I am in the very center, 2nd row)My main triggers for studying EMBA are to obtain in-depth theoretic business knowledge that reach beyond my earlier B.A. studies and the skills I was able to obtain in my professions and to equip myself with proven tools and methods that will enable me eventually to become a better businessman and management consultant. The decision to enroll at CEIBS, ranked #1 MBA school in China (BusinessWeek) and #17/#18 MBA/EMBA school worldwide (Financial Times) was not a difficult one. CEIBS has been the educator of choice for my employer in China for over 10 years and thus many of my colleagues and partners have graduated from CEIBS – the school defines our local company, one could say.

The CEIBS EMBA program typically begins in March and lasts 2 years, with one extended weekend on-site class (4-5 days) every month. In addition to thATTENTION! -- 9:05am, Day 2 of Essentials of Management, Prof. Keith Goodall feels compelled to step on his desk to make sure students in the back rows are equally involved in the Day 1 reviewe local residency modules, CEIBS also features two overseas modules, one in the United States – e.g. this year at Cornell and West Point – and one in Europe – next year at IESE in Barcelona/Spain. Being a father and business leader, the study period and additional commitment one week per month contributed to my relative lengthy decision time before enrolling to CEIBS. My employer in particular did ask me to postpone my studies, when I initially asked for support to enroll to the EMBA program in 2010. Personally I am however convinced that now is the best – if not only – period in my life that I can actually undertake this additional commitment, considering that my son is not yet in primary school and and is not yet involved in any major activities beyond Kindergarten (such as weekend sport competitions, or similar). If I were to wait justtwo years later , even more family and business responsibilities will most likely bar me from enjoying any higher education for a considerably long time. As so often in our lives: Now is the time; by tomorrow, the opportunity may have passed.

Apart from the high-profile faculty that CEIBS offers – with resident and travelling educators coming from business schools such as Babson College, Cambridge, Harvard, IESE, and Cornell, to name just a few, a key feature – one that I will make the center of my future blogs – is the highly culturally diverse class and faculty structure, which does, while intangibly, highly contribute to the positive learning experience at CEIBS. For starters: my class of 53 students consists of individuals from China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.S.

We began with our entry residency in mid March with team building exercises – a series of games and competitions. This immediately forced us to work together with our new classmates in a competition, and under time pressure, to experience what it means to be managers in a multicultural organization. The initial exercises gave us some challenges, as you can see from us doing push-ups in front of 200 fellow classmates. In one game, my team suffered because, in the heat of competition and the flurry of different languages being spoken among the group, one of the rules was “lost in translation.” This innocent mistake led the professor to punish us, as you can see.

Next came the TechMark III Business simulation,” facilitated by Prof. Robert Eng (a visiting professor who also teaches at Babson College). Our task was to drive up Revenue, Profits and Share Prices of mock businesses in a simulated market environment. It was an extremely fun, but also challenging experience, in which the cultural aspects of addressing business and personal problems became startlingly apparent. Interestingly, a great number of mock enterprises made up of Chinese and international students performed very well, and the ultimately winning group consisted of students from China, Denmark, Hong Kong and Malaysia. The “enterprise” managed by my team (classmates from China, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland) was near bankruptcy at the end of the second-to-last round, but we were able to perform a respectable come-back in the last round.

DIVERSE GROUP -- My 53 classmates hail from 11 countries. Here, with Prof Miguel Arino during the  Decision Analysis Module.Our modules in April (“Essentials of Management”) and May (“Decision Analysis”) were equally vibrant, taught by Profs. Keith Goodall of Cambridge and Miguel Arino of IESE. After class, we had time for o social events such as a Chinese welcome dinner, Indian, Japanese and Latin nights.

After just three modules together, our class community is still a young, not yet fully integrated group, but I already see how quite a few of my fellow class mates begin to find their roles and identify their areas of interest to contribute to a positive joint learning experience and a fun two years together. As we will have the first formal election of our class committee soon, in my next blog entry, I will focus on how the different cultures in our class join forces and work together.

Although - after having written this - I still feel I am still no closer to solving the mystery of the busy mid-30s yet, having experienced the first three modules at CEIBS I am convinced that I have decided well in making myself yet again busier by enrolling to the international class at this business school – and maybe the combined wisdom of so many cultures in my class will eventually bring me a little closer to the solution.

Meanwhile, allow me to share more about my experiences along the way in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Michael AdickMichael Adick

Graduated in Bank Management, Michael has 16 years professional experience in banking, industry and consulting, specializing in sales & marketing management, strategic planning, strategy articulation and execution, financial analysis, operations planning and performance management. Prior to joining North Highland, where he has been working since 2009, he held leading positions with Siemens China (for over 7 years), BearingPoint China, and Europe’s largest retail bank.
Michael is an active contributor to the Shanghai community, serving as business mentor on the board of a start-up consulting and executive coaching firm, supporting the energy efficiency initiative at the German Chamber of Commerce, providing strategy execution advisory to the American Chamber of Commerce, and regularly coaching and advising active members of the global student organization AIESEC as an alumni since 1999.
Besides his fascination with mobility solutions, classical music and contemporary literature, Michael is an avid golfer, passionate scuba diver as well as a devoted South-East Asia Traveler. He likes reading publications on Anthropology and Psychology, as well as World Economics and Politics, believing that considering these topics in management is invaluable to establishing sustainable business success.
Originating from North-West Germany, Michael has been living in China since 1999 and is married with a 3 year old son.

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