Wharton Stories

Penn Wharton China Center Celebrates Chinese Folk Performing Arts

Image: Left, Jin Yuchen, WG'14, and Liu Tianyi wow the audience with their musical talent.
Penn alumni and Chinese musicians connect at the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing for a folk arts performance.

Click here to read this story in Chinese.

Popular Chinese folk artists and performing artists gathered at Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) to highlight traditional Chinese performing arts and promote cultural exchange between Penn and China.

Hosted by PWCC in Beijing, the performance attracted a full house, including Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of the Wharton School, alumni from Wharton, various schools of the University of Pennsylvania, and local friends.

One of the most celebrated comedians in China, Feng Gong first became famous for performing xiangsheng in the 1980s.
One of the most celebrated comedians in China, Feng Gong first became famous for performing xiangsheng in the 1980s.

Dean Garrett said the event was fantastic. “The combination of comedy and song was beautiful. It’s wonderful for me to be in China, as always.”

Chinese Comedy and Song

The May 17 performance included artists from the China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe, entertaining the audience with a xiangsheng (pronounced she-ang shung) act focused on traditional Chinese poetry.

Xiangsheng, which translates to “crosstalk”, is one of the oldest comedic traditions in China. Commonly, two or more performers dressed in traditional garb exchange witty banter using a set of four skills: speaking, imitating, teasing, and singing. The closest cultural reference for Americans would be the classic Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” routine.

The artists included Feng Gong, Jia Xuming, Cao Suifeng, and Hou Linlin. One of the most celebrated comedians in China, Feng Gong first became famous for performing xiangsheng in the 1980s.

Artists from the China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe entertained the audience with a xiangsheng act.
Artists from the China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe entertained the audience with a xiangsheng act.

Gong and the other performers are popular for their regular appearances at the CCTV New Year’s Gala, also known as the Spring Festival Gala. An annual tradition since 1983, the live television event celebrates the Lunar New Year with millions of viewers each year and has set TV ratings records in China and around the world.

Yue Lu, a soprano from the China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe, serenaded the audience with her renditions of several beloved Chinese folk songs, including the tremendously popular “Jasmine Flower.”

Wharton MBA alumnus, Jin Yuchen, WG’14, joined the performance. The singer who plays the bamboo clappers, a traditional Chinese percussion instrument, is part of the neo Chinese folk-rock duo NoTwoBros.

Since his collaboration with singer and guitarist Tianyi (Timmy) Liu began in 2014, the pair has performed at notable venues around the world, including the Lincoln Center in New York City. NoTwoBros also performed for more than 200 Penn and alumni at the 2018 Penn Wharton Shanghai Alumni Annual Party earlier this year.

For their set at PWCC, the two wowed the audience with their unique mix of eastern and western musical elements and their original song “Hong Qiu Ku.”

“It’s a very special event because it brings Chinese culture and folk performances to the Center, adding variety to academic or commercial talks,” said Yao Jiusi, a 2016 alumna from Penn’s Graduate School of Education.

Posted: June 20, 2018

Wharton Stories

Experts Convene at Penn Wharton China Center to Explore the Future of the Commercial Aerospace Industry

PWCC and Future Aerospace hosted the 2018 International Salon of Commercial Space Industry Development and Investment to look at new opportunities in the field.

Click here to read this story in Chinese.

Experts, entrepreneurs, and investors from China and abroad gathered at Penn Wharton China Center for the 2018 International Salon of Commercial Space Industry Development and Investment to discuss future trends and investment opportunities in the field.

Hosted by PWCC and Beijing-based think tank Future Aerospace, the forum in downtown Beijing attracted many Penn alumni and guests, including experts and key players in the commercial aerospace industry from China and abroad as well as high-level executives from China’s top investment organizations.

A panel of experts, entrepreneurs, and investors from China and abroad gathered at Penn Wharton China Center to discuss future trends and investment opportunities in the commercial aerospace field.

The April 26 event came just days after China’s national Space Day, which celebrates the country’s achievements in aerospace and commemorates China’s successful of its first satellite, the Dongfanghong-1, in 1970.

According to a recent report from International Air Transport Association, China is projected to become the world’s largest passenger aviation market by 2024. PWCC Managing Director Dr. Gary Hua welcomed attendees and highlighted how China’s rapidly growing commercial aerospace industry has created new opportunities for investors and experts from all sectors. PWCC hosted the event, Dr. Hua explained, to facilitate exchanges to explore some of these new opportunities.

PWCC Managing Director Dr. Gary Hua welcomed attendees and highlighted how China’s rapidly growing commercial aerospace industry has created new opportunities for investors and experts from all sectors.
PWCC Managing Director Dr. Gary Hua welcomed attendees and highlighted how China’s rapidly growing commercial aerospace industry has created new opportunities for investors and experts from all sectors.

Industry Insights and Future Trends

The global commercial aerospace industry has tripled in size over the past decade, Future Aerospace CEO Niu Min told attendees. He kicked off the forum, sharing his research and insights on promising areas of progress and cooperation in the sector. Niu also pointed out how China’s current policies will encourage further development of the country’s aerospace industry, as they could lead to innovation and reduce production costs.

Tor-Arne Grönland, Founder and CEO of Nanospace and business developer of GomSpace, discussed development of the nanosatellites especially CubeSat and its market potencial. He talked about the development and history of his company headquartered in Denmark – from its beginning when he was a university student to developing a key partnership with the European Space Agency.

Grönland explained how rapid technological advances have propelled industry growth and industry in nanosatellites, highlighting propeller and communication network as two key technologies that are making the nanosatellites business profitable.

Professor Wu Shufan, Chair of the Department of Aerospace Information and Control at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, shared his insights on the industry in China and compared the development status of state-backed institutions, university-backed institutions, and those in the private sector.

Zhang Changwu, Founder & CEO of Landspace
Zhang Changwu, Founder & CEO of Landspace, a private space launch company based in Beijing.

Zhang Changwu, CEO of Beijing-based private space launch company LandSpace, established the corporation in 2015 and has witnessed more capital coming into the sector over the past two years.

“As China now has more top engineers, the challenges we are facing aren’t the technical ones,” said Zhang, noting that building a successful rocket business is more about management and not just scientific research. “Our team building, management, capital structure, organization, and production, all are closely connected with organization optimization and business process reengineering.”

Zhang continued to stress that many of the challenges in the commericial aerospace industry can only be addressed with innovative management approaches.

The event concluded with a roundtable discussion on the future of the commercial aerospace industry, facilitated by Niu Min. Leading experts shared their thoughts on China’s new technology development, its advantages in the world market, and their outlooks on future trends in the industry.

Xu Congwei, Former Vice President of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Dr. Jean Muylaert from the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics; and Jacob Mølbach Nissen, Space Inventor’s Chief Sales Officer, participated in the discussion. Dr. Muylaert said the best time is yet to come for China’s commercial aerospace industry as China has so much young talent and the industry will have continued growth.

Wharton MBA alumnus Tony Zhang, WG’06, Partner of Kinzon Capital, happened to be in the area for business and attended the forum. He said the event exceeded his expectations and provided him with valuable insight on the aerospace industry.

Posted:

Wharton Stories

Why This Business Economics Professor Says Self Sponsorship in Wharton’s EMBA Program Is a Sound Investment

Prof. Kent Smetters, faculty director of Penn Wharton Budget Model and a popular professor, shares financial advice for EMBA students.

A popular professor in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives, Kent Smetters is well known for his savvy financial advice on his Wharton Business Radio (SiriusXM 111) show, Your Money, and his contributions to the Wall Street Journal. Prof. Smetters currently serves as faculty director of the Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan, research-based initiative that provides accurate, accessible and transparent economic analysis of public policy’s fiscal impact. His research focuses on fiscal policy, risk measurement, personal finance, insurance and healthcare, and he’s held policy positions, including deputy assistant secretary (economic policy) for the U.S. Treasury.

We asked Prof. Smetters, who is also a successful entrepreneur, to share financial advice for EMBA students and tell us more about his class and radio show.

Why does it make financial sense to self sponsor in the EMBA program?

Fewer employers are paying for EMBA programs these days, so many students are paying their own tuition, which usually means taking on debt. It may feel like you bought yourself a small house, but you’re buying much more than a paper diploma with the Wharton name. You are investing in knowledge and skills that you can use for the rest of your career.

If you take this program seriously, it can have a big impact on your career in terms of future earnings. That may not always show up right away, especially if you change industries or launch a startup, but over time you see the benefit. I hear this from alumni. Wharton EMBA students have a very high rate of satisfaction from their degree.

What financial advice do you give self sponsoring students? How should they balance paying for school with saving for retirement?

First, I always recommend having an emergency fund that can cover six months of expenses. Second, make sure that you are utilizing any employer matches for your retirement plan. Even if you don’t maximize your 401K contribution, make sure you are getting a match. After that, look at the interest rates on your student loans, which often accrues immediately for graduate school expenses. If the interest rate is 6% or 7% then prioritize paying that debt down over contributing more money to your 401K. You’re basically getting a risk-free return of 6-7% by paying down the debt, which is more valuable than making additional retirement contributions, even if that is tax-deferred.

You teach the core Microeconomics for Managers class on both coasts. What do students learn in that class?

This is a first-term course and is considered one of the harder classes because of the math and economic reasoning involved. This class helps students correctly describe their economic environment and determine optimal choices based on that environment. For example, we talk about understanding your market. How competitive is it? Are you a first mover? Given that information, how do you figure out the best way to set your price or expand operations to maximize profit? Or, how do you set up an auction if pricing a novel item or something that is constantly changing? There are many applications to what students learn in this class.

As for the quantitative aspect of this class, we use math, but the hardest problems are not because of the math. The hardest problems are narratives that students need to translate into a model to make the best decision. Think about Amazon and how it decides where to build distribution facilities. It doesn’t throw a dart at a map or just look at population density. It translates the question into a mathematical problem to effectively optimize decisions.

How applicable is the knowledge in your class for most EMBA students?

It’s very applicable. After we cover something in class, students will often come back the next session and tell me how they applied a concept at work or realized they had previously been using the wrong approach on something. For example, I had one student, who ran pricing for a large pharmaceutical firm, realize that her firm was pricing a drug incorrectly – and that was after only the third session of the class. She went back to her firm, did calculations, and they made a mid-cycle price change, which is very rare.

What do you like about teaching EMBA students?

These students are extraordinarily exciting to teach because they know what they don’t know. They are far enough in their careers to know their gaps and as a result are hungry for knowledge. They are constantly thinking about how to translate what we teach to their jobs. Professors really enjoy this dynamic and want to teach in this program and the students really want to be here – that is a great environment.
What is your radio show about?

I host a show for two hours every week on personal finance topics like prioritizing goals and thinking through tradeoffs. I really want people to think holistically about finances and have the knowledge to make better decisions. So much of this financial advice industry is commission-driven and doesn’t serve people well, so every advisor on my show is fee-only rather than fee-based, and I’m not compensated for the show either. This is an educational effort and not about monetizing anything.

What research projects are you working on these days?

I’m working on several projects related to finance in terms of how to measure risk and how to properly conduct an analysis. At a high level, I’m interested in investment managers. How do you separate skill from luck? Are they measuring risk properly? Are they doing statistical analysis properly? These are age old questions that haven’t yet been answered correctly so I’m bringing new tools to try to answer them.

Read a related story about Prof. Smetters and his advice for grad school financing.

Posted: June 18, 2018

Wharton Stories

How This Wharton Undergraduate Is Pursuing the Business, Artistic, and Sustainable Dimensions of 3D Printing

Charlotte de Vaulx, W’19, C’19, tells how a Passion Project grant allowed her to explore the world of 3D Printing while pursuing dual degrees with Wharton and the College.

Charlotte de Vaulx’s fascination with 3D printing and biofabrication began after listening to the Wall Street Journal’s “Future of Everything” podcast on how lab-grown organic printed materials could redefine manufacturing. Reading about biosynthetics as a potentially disruptive technology, she learned how innovators are harnessing microbes like bacteria and algae as tools to engineer biomaterial consumer products. For example, entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers are creating biodegradable shoes from lab-grown spider silk, animal-free leather from printed cells, and algae-based ink. 3D printing technology, known for customizable on-demand production, is being developed for biomaterials as well.

What particularly interests Charlotte about these technologies is the potential to design and create more sustainable closed-loop systems using renewable, biodegradable, less energy-intensive, and non-polluting products at a commercialized scale. For Charlotte, who is pursuing a dual-degree in Operations, Informations, and Decisions in Wharton and Environmental Science in the College, this represents the perfect intersection of her studies and interests — entrepreneurship, biology/earth science, and sustainability.

Through a $300 grant from the Wharton Passion Projects Program, Charlotte resolved to design and print her own bio-inspired 3-dimensional structures, through which she hopes to communicate the broad-ranging applications of 3D printing and biofabrication to her peers. Her structures, though not directly bioprinted, were inspired by tree roots and designed as branching fractals, a recurring pattern common in nature.

The Creative Process

At first, 3D printing seemed complicated and intimidating, especially without any previous design experience. Though many 3D print softwares exist that are free and open-source, the hardest part of the project for Charlotte was knowing where to start, as well as parsing through all the jargon.

She described her early process as sketching her object on paper, uploading the photo online, and using computer programs like Adobe Creative Cloud  to digitize edit, and transform her original sketch into a 3D print file. While digitizing, Charlotte spent a lot of time exploring different available CAD (Computer Aided Design) and 3D design softwares, including Photoshop, Blender, and Meshmixer. Some required coding from scratch, some let you download and merge existing shapes or files, and some let you sculpt freely as if with putty. Charlotte learned that all 3D print objects, no matter the shape, are created from tessellated faces — joined repeated triangles. Before printing the objects must be structurally sound. Luckily, the files could easily be tested and repaired using software that automatically scans and detects defects. Once the files were corrected, sending to print was as easy as uploading the file.

Charlotte’s favorite part of her Passion Project was having ownership over her designs and seeing her products from ideation to their final forms. She now views the world of 3D printing as “open and accessible if you put in the time and research,” and particularly enjoys the culture of open information sharing. Charlotte believes 3D printing will be increasingly useful in prototyping, robotics, and healthcare, perhaps even agriculture.

Biofabricated Alternatives

When she wasn’t designing and developing 3D structures, Charlotte experimented with the mycelium kits of a company called Grow.bio to grow her own biofabriated creations for fun. According to Charlotte, it was as easy as “baking a cake.” Each mycelium blend, combined with various substances such as hemp, grows after being fed water and flour as nutrients, just like yeast . After packing the soupy mycelium blends in growth forms (containers to shape the material as desired),she watched her creations develop for a week, finally heating the product in the oven. Charlotte enjoyed the process, noting that mycelium is cheap, easy to use, and completely biodegradable.

In a world with rapidly rising demand for materials and energy, Charlotte emphasizes the importance of working to find scalable and cost-effective sustainable alternatives to plastic, non-renewable-based products, and a global waste problem. She believes a multidisciplinary perspective is necessary in tackling these problems, which is why she decided to pursue a dual-degree.

After Wharton, Charlotte plans to pursue a career in entrepreneurship and innovation, leveraging technology for sustainable applications. She hopes to spend a few years researching key biological and chemical processes on the “scientific side” before working at a startup or starting her own business.

Posted: June 15, 2018

Wharton Stories

4 Academic and Coaching Resources this EMBA Alum Used to Land a People Analytics Job at LinkedIn

How Shujaat Ahmad, WG’17, made a radical pivot from strategy consulting to his passion for people analytics through Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives.

With an engineering background, Shujaat Ahmad, WG’17, had built a unique profile of diving into unchartered territories and solving complex business problems across a variety of industries and functions. As a result, he was on the fast track for a career in strategy consulting. Yet over time, he realized his true passion was on the people side of business. Unsure of how to make a career out of that interest, he came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives to “gain academic muscle,” learn more about this field, and explore possibilities.

“A big benefit of the EMBA program was that I could engage in insightful dialogue with other experienced students to learn about the key people issues they face in their industries and how I could influence a diverse group of business executives in appreciating the value of the talent domain that is traditionally deemed as ‘fluff’ and an after-thought. I knew that would help me refine my career goal and validate my perspective that HR could be transformed from a support function to the most critical value-creating lever for the business,” he said.

Shujaat, who is now Manager of Talent Insights at LinkedIn, credits several aspects of the EMBA program with helping him envision and execute a mid-career pivot into a high-impact role with a leading player in the emergent field of people analytics:

People and Data Analytics Classes

While taking Prof. Cade Massey’s Influence course, Shujaat had an “a-ha moment,” when he realized that he’s “a corporate strategy professional who is also a people champion.” He explained, “I saw that I have a unique point of view that would add value at companies that use data and technology in their talent domain. Prof. Massey, who heads the Wharton People Analytics Initiative, showed me there is a career in this nascent field and encouraged me to look for opportunities,” he said.

In that class, he built an action plan for exploring the people analytics market. He also began taking other classes to learn more about HR and people analytics. For example, in Prof. Peter Fader’s Marketing Probability course, he learned about what data can reveal about talent trends and its impact for managers. He complemented that with learning from an Organizational Change course taught by David Pottruck, W’70, WG’72, on how leading executives influence bold breakthrough cultural change across the enterprise. “The real-world philosophy on influence that I learned at Wharton is deeply embedded in my current team’s motto when ensuring that analytics leads to executive decision making: Insights without action = overhead,” he said.

In addition, Shujaat learned about people analytics during Global Business Week, a weeklong immersion course EMBA students take in their second year. He and his classmates spent the week learning about business opportunities and challenges in South Africa. Shujaat also used the opportunity to explore human resources in this part of the world, writing a paper on whether talent defines how well a business performs in South Africa. That led to a subsequent independent study on what it takes to develop talent in emerging economies, using Africa as a proxy.

People Analytics Conference

Each year, Wharton hosts a People Analytics Conference in Philadelphia. At Prof. Massey’s suggestion, Shujaat attended the event and found it to be “game changing.” He explained, “The conference was an incredible platform to evaluate the landscape. It provided me with both intellectually intriguing material and a quick overview of where the practitioners were concentrated. I saw that many companies haven’t caught up to people analytics and don’t advertise their people analytics roles.”

“Talking to people in this industry, I realized that while I don’t have an HR background, I have taken so many classes and done projects on this topic in school that, combined with my unconventional work experience, I have developed a unique point of view to offer. That conference confirmed that I was on the right track and expanded my network, opening doors that were not accessible earlier.”

Global Modular Course: Rwanda

After graduation, Shujaat joined Wharton’s Global Modular Course in Rwanda, led by Prof. Katherine Klein and Eric Kacou, WG’04, where he examined the logical and emotional levers used by leaders to motivate people and bring change despite conflict. “By then, I had defined my goal to become a leader who helps businesses make better people decisions that make sense for business and their role in society.”

“Rwanda’s remarkable journey showed how an entire country could lift itself after decades of conflict and self-destruction leading to the traumatic experience of genocide by applying data-based approaches towards socio-economic development. For example, it prioritized gender equity as a strategic priority for long-term development and it has achieved it like no other country. That is attributed to its leadership championing the use of mathematical and methodical approaches,” he said.

Shujaat said the course reinforced that what he is trying to do in people analytics has real purpose and can make a great impact. “It’s important to see that in HR, you can use data to achieve your goal of bringing people together and being more inclusive, while transforming the business.”

Executive Career Coaching

Shujaat also utilized the Executive Career Coaching (ECC) resources available to EMBA students and joined a job search action group, facilitated by Director of Career Advancement Steve Hernandez. “That was an excellent opportunity to test out my strategy with other classmates looking to make changes. They held me accountable to my plan, which helped motivate me to continue talking to thought leaders and people in this field and exploring opportunities,” he said.

As a result of all his efforts, Shujaat received multiple job offers from companies for people analytics roles that didn’t previously exist. He ended up accepting an offer from LinkedIn, where he is now part of the Talent Insight team, working with executive business and talent leaders. “We leverage data to bust myths and help our leaders make better and faster decisions that are less biased and based on evidence. We bring science to the talent area. We also help reinforce our product and think about future products around people analytics,” he said.

Shujaat said this career transition wouldn’t have been possible without Wharton. “I knew I had limited time in this program, so I made sure to take advantage of the opportunities to connect with people, conduct research, take classes and utilize resources. The ROI at Wharton on my career has been unquantifiable.”

Meghan Laska

Posted: June 13, 2018

Wharton Stories

This Coding Club Is Demystifying Tech for MBAs

The new Wharton Coding Club brings MBAs of all backgrounds together to explore software engineering, polishing leadership and teamwork skills along the way.

No coding experience is required to join the Wharton Coding Club.

“The core intention of the club is to bring people together in an environment where they can get past the initial learning curve,” said Kahini Shah, WG’19, its co-president. Coding, she explained, is like any new language. “The hardest parts are learning the alphabet, sentence structures. Once you get there, everything else becomes easy.”

Tackling an unfamiliar language can be a daunting task, so when Kahini and her co-president, Roashan Ayene, WG’19, launched the Coding Club at the start of this year, their own academic and professional backgrounds in engineering and tech guided its structure. In order to provide a fully hands-on experience for MBAs curious about software engineering, their pedagogy falls on a few fundamentals — two being teamwork and fun.

Why Coding Matters

Wharton Coding Club’s Facebook page gained over 100 likes in under 24 hours after going public. It speaks to a particularly receptive audience; now more than ever, Wharton students know that tech skills can give them a competitive edge in the business world.

“I think for the first time this year tech was actually the biggest industry interest group among people with internships and full-time offers. Because of that, there’s a lot of need for people to get exposure to technical skills,” Roashan said.

More importantly, learning how to code can help MBAs acquire more than just a niche skill. “It adds value to your employers to be able to provide creative solutions of your own,” said Vadim Vishnepolsky, WG’19, the club’s vice president of education.

“If you’re managing engineers or if you’re a product manager,” Roashan explained, “just having that technical understanding, being able to speak the language of coders and understand some of the ways they work with things, makes you much better at your job.”

Lessons Beyond Tech

To meet the needs of as many MBAs as possible, the Wharton Coding Club is embracing accessibility and flexibility. Engagement so far has seen instructional classes, working with Coursera, as well as social lunch-and-learns, where members can meet other like-minded people.

Coding is “100% collaboration-based,” according to Vadim. Not only is the club hiring undergraduate computer science TAs, but its system of coding cohorts — students who work in teams on course modules of their choosing — is designed to overcome learning blocks through ample, inter-peer support.

The six-member board is trying to take personal learning styles and overall popular interest into account— it’s the reason why Python and JavaScript topped lesson plans this past semester.

While the future may see the Coding Club hosting Penn-wide hackathons, workshopping Amazon Echo Deals, and collaborating with similar groups at other universities, catering to the Wharton student community is their present priority.

Roashan believes their tech club stands out from similar ones on campus in being less professionally-oriented. Students might be gaining the skills to develop their own apps or advise CIOs on digital strategy, but job placement is not the club’s imperative.

“I really want to emphasize how coding is not only rewarding from a career perspective, but from a personal perspective of being able to tackle any challenge in front of you,” Vadim said. “Sometimes you’re stuck on a problem for days and finally find the code that makes it work — there’s no better feeling in the world.”

— Gloria Yuen with reporting by Caroline Harris

Posted: June 11, 2018

Wharton Stories

LDI Kicks Off Its 19th Annual Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Program on the Schuylkill River

Image: Six SUMR scholars and three experienced Philadelphia rowers scull together on the Schuylkill River in this 60-foot long shell.
Students from 17 different universities and colleges across the U.S. immerse themselves in this three-month summer program to explore fields in health services research at Penn.

The year’s Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) program started with a “Sculling on the Schuylkill” challenge on May 29, at Philadelphia’s historic Boathouse Row.

An initiative by the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) and Wharton’s Health Care Management Department, SUMR provides underrepresented minority undergraduate students, or interested others, an opportunity to explore the field of health services.

The 23 new scholars from 17 different universities and colleges was the first SUMR cohort to row its way into the three-month program.

“We try to begin each new SUMR program with an ice-breaking and team-building event that also enables the scholars to experience some unique aspect of Philadelphia,” said Joanne Levy, MBA, MCP, Founding Director of the SUMR program. “I think rowing on the Schuylkill is about as historic as it gets and certainly promises to encourage interaction and teamwork along with great fun in a very scenic location.”

Broadening the Cultural Lens

Established in 2000, SUMR offers students potentially interested in health care careers the opportunity to immerse themselves in Penn’s community of health services researchers.Disparities in health care access and quality among different racial and ethnic groups are widespread and well-known.

SUMR is a pipeline for the growth of underrepresented minority researchers who bring broader cultural sensitivities and perspectives into national health care policies and practices.

This year’s cohort of scholars come from Penn and 16 other schools across the country, including Cornell, Boston, Morgan State, Georgetown, Spelman, and Swarthmore.

A sense of their cultural diversity can be found in their areas of linguistic fluency: Arabic, Portuguese, French, Fulani, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. Four of them are also the first in their family to go to college.

Research with Real-World Applications

For three months, scholars engage in dynamic lectures and meet with Penn’s top health services scientists on research projects of the student’s choice, which include:

  • A qualitative analysis of race, racism, and psychological stress among VA patients living with chronic kidney disease.
  • A study of the health burden of chronic pain on racial and ethnic minorities.
  • A project to integrate and use social media and statewide data to build and validate a tool for monitoring and predicting high morbidity health trends and real-time dynamic health events.
  • A research effort to better understand the mechanisms underlying the transgenerational effects of early life stress on children.

The design and evaluation of an emergency department decision support tool for physicians and patients involved in acute pain care that may require prescribed opioids.

Upon the program’s completion, scholars have a chance to present on mentored health services research projects at the closing symposium.

Sculling on the Schuylkill

The SUMR kick off event took place at the Bachelors Barge Club at #6 Boathouse Row — the country’s oldest continuously operated boathouse and home of the Drexel University Crew Teams.

The event was managed by Team Concepts, Inc., a team-building and leadership development firm staffed by Olympic sculling coaches.

Scholars were assigned to rowing teams and received classroom training and dry-land practice on rowing machines before they got in the water. SUMR scull teams raced each other through a 500-meter course on the river.

— This story was adapted from an article by Hoag Levins that originally appeared on the LDI website.

Posted: June 7, 2018

Wharton Stories

New Grad on How to Have a Successful Experience in Wharton’s EMBA Program

Tech manager and recent alumna Madhuri Alahari, WG’18, shares advice on surviving and thriving during the two-year program.

I recently graduated from the most rigorous and the most rewarding executive MBA program (Wharton), and to say the least, it was the craziest ride of my life. When people ask how I managed this while working full-time and with two young kids at home, I always tell them that it was possible because of support from my family, coworkers, friends, and classmates as well as a lot of planning, prioritization, and smart execution.

 

Here are my 10 tips for a successful experience in the Wharton EMBA program:

1. Identify your academic and professional goals.

Before you start the program, think about what you would like to achieve. Do you want to be in the top 5% or graduate with a certain GPA? Are you looking for a career switch or advancement? Most importantly, will your academic goal help you achieve your ultimate career goal? MBA admissions essays trigger these thoughts, but your goals could change, so it’s important to revisit these questions.

2. Identify your personal goals.

Do you want to tone down your current social life, or do you plan to put your social life completely on hold? What balance do you want to strike in managing family activities and responsibilities? What additional value can you add to the program through the various Wharton clubs? Think long term because the program is a marathon and not a sprint.

3. Set expectations with stakeholders.

Talk to your stakeholders (your spouse, kids, team at work, manager, friends, extended family) and set expectations. Perhaps you plan to study in the library every Saturday or to travel to every global course possible – discuss with them as early as possible. This is also the time to listen to their expectations of you and come to a mutual understanding. Keep checking in with them throughout the two years, as expectations could change.

4. Delegate and lean on your support system.

Lean on your spouse, kids, family, friends, coworkers, and study team at Wharton for support – both material and emotional. It is hard to ask for help, but this is the time to work on your delegation skills. When you delegate, let go of the “how” and instead focus on “what” things get done. Otherwise, you can drive your support system crazy with micromanagement, and there is no real time savings if you continue to closely manage the delegated tasks.

5. Prioritize and re-prioritize again as much as needed.

This is a rigorous program that pushes you like you would not imagine. You won’t be able to do everything that is offered. So, prioritize and re-prioritize regularly. Would you like to go to that Global Modular Course in London, but find it hard to take time off work? Go back to your identified goals and figure out what is important in the long run. Evaluate and prioritize what you can and what you cannot do. The same thing goes for choices about electives or going on social trips – or every other choice you will make in these two years.

Madhuri and her family
Madhuri and her family

6. Look for ways to integrate your family, work, and friends into the program.

I am not going to lie; no matter how much you think you are prepared, there will be trying times. Maybe your kids will start missing you more, or maybe your manager gets upset with you not being there every other Friday, or maybe your friends become weary of you not showing up at important events. Look for ways to make it up to them by involving them in your program: invite your family to spend time on campus during class weekends; take your learnings from classes and apply them at work; bring your friends for dinner on campus. Get creative and find those “four-way wins” that you will learn about in your Total Leadership class. Even small changes can make a huge difference. The more you integrate your life, work, and community into the program, the easier it becomes to manage it all.

7. Find the most efficient way to do things.

This is true for every phase of life, but more so when you are completely swamped with never-ending deadlines and deliverables. For instance, you can divide and conquer your group assignments if you plan well, keep interactions regular but quick, and then come together to hone the final product. Figure out smaller blocks of time on your commute or in between your kids’ sports events to squeeze in work. There is no one solution that fits everyone, but always look for efficiency – a smarter path saves you a lot of time.

8. Do not hesitate to say no.

In the past two years, I’ve learned that I cannot survive without saying no. It’s hard and you will disappoint people, hopefully temporarily, but you must be able to say no to focus on what is important at that time.

9. Do not ignore yourself.

Initially, I considered the time I spent on this program as time for myself. So, despite the suggestions of my spouse, I hardly ever took any other time out for me. Later, I realized this was not a sustainable practice. I started to eat healthy, go for walks and hikes, take small breaks and power naps to recharge, go on dates with my spouse, etc. That helped me stay sane and happy, and it also helped me work and study with increased focus.

10. Don’t forget to make memories and friends.

It’s very easy to keep your head down and get into the “I need to work on my assignment” mode. But these are memories for a lifetime and you will want to make as many as possible by joining the various clubs and being a part of the social scene in your class! While going to every event that comes your way might not be possible, don’t forget to go to as many as you possibly can and make new friends and memories.

– Madhuri Alahari

Posted: June 5, 2018

Wharton Stories

A Quick Lesson on Private Equity Analysis from Prof. Bilge Yilmaz

Image: Prof. Bilge Yilmaz
The Wharton private equity and finance professor discusses the science and subtle art of how PE values a company before acquisition.

Analyzing a company’s value for a leveraged buyout is a complex process with many moving parts. In a lecture drawing from Wharton private equity and finance professor and director of the Wharton Alternative Investments Initiative Bilge Yilmaz’s Finance of Buyouts and Acquisitions class, private equity firms use a model that looks at lots of data. “But you have to use some intuition, too,” he says.

A company’s value is determined using a valuation multiple such as EBIDTA. But how will the company stack up against others in its industry? Apples-to-apples comparisons can be tricky. “The challenge is how to choose your multiples,” says Yilmaz. EBIDTA is a common multiple, but it’s not always the right one. Say you want to buy a restaurant chain that owns its real estate. Comparable rent-paying chains will have a different EBIDTA, but their values might not be different. In this case, you’ll want to look at the competitors’ EBIDTAR. (The “R” stands for “rent.”)

In another example, Yilmaz describes how analysts use judgment as well as historical data. Say you plan to buy an autoparts supplier. The average firm value is around eight times EBIDTA. However, one that recently traded at seven times EBIDTA is now at 14 times its EBIDTA ; another has been trading at 10 times its EBIDTA consistently. “I need data for the last few years so I can map the multiples of these companies over time,” says Yilmaz. “Maybe the one that was trading at seven times had a lawsuit pending. Once it went away, the multiple went back up.” Or, conversely, a company that loses a patent could see its multiple drop and not rebound. While you can’t connect the event to the stock price with absolute certainty, you can use your instinct to make informed decisions.

The multiple you choose may also depend on your exit strategy. In a third example, imagine you’re buying a hospital chain for $33 billion and taking it private. “You’ll want to sell it at a significantly higher value,” says Yilmaz. “But who will buy it?” Typically, a strategic sale—e.g., to another hospital chain—is the most profitable exit strategy, because synergies may result in a higher price. But given the chain’s size, it’s highly unlikely another hospital chain could afford it, so a more reasonable approach may be to use a lower multiple and assume you will exit with an IPO.

The bottom line, according to Yilmaz: “There is no perfect measure. Pick so you can compare apples to apples, and stick with it.”

First published in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Wharton Magazine.

Posted: June 1, 2018

Wharton Stories

Three Years On: A Look at the Penn Wharton China Center

The impact of the Beijing-based center and research fund has been far-reaching on campus and in China.

Click here to read this story in Chinese.

When Penn President Amy Gutmann drew up the Penn Compact 2020 with its core principles of inclusion, innovation, and impact, she set the stage to expand global engagement at Penn and to, in her words, “bring Penn to the world and the world to Penn.”

In launching the Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) in Beijing and the Penn China Research and Engagement Fund (CREF) on March 10, 2015, she reiterated the call for social impact and global engagement.

“Engagement with communities here at home, across our country, and throughout our world — civic engagement, for short — is at the heart of the Penn Compact 2020,” said Gutmann. “Penn’s engagement in China via research, academic and student exchanges, and broad partnerships with Chinese institutions benefits Penn’s campus and community, and enhances global understanding and discovery.”

Penn is emerging as the premier institution to offer insight into the future of China.

Pictured on the Ben on the Bench sculpture at the Penn Wharton China Center in Sept. 2015: Penn President Amy Gutmann (seated) with (from left to right) Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett; Penn Engineering Dean Vijay Kumar; former PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor; former Penn Dental Dean Denis F. Kinane; Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel; Perelman School of Medicine Dean J. Larry Jameson; Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel; Graduate School of Education Dean Pam Grossman; Penn Arts and Sciences Dean Steven J. Fluharty; and School of Social Policy & Practice Dean John L. Jackson Jr.
Pictured on the Ben on the Bench sculpture at the Penn Wharton China Center in Sept. 2015: Penn President Amy Gutmann (seated) with (from left to right) Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett; Penn Engineering Dean Vijay Kumar; former PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor; former Penn Dental Dean Denis F. Kinane; Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel; Perelman School of Medicine Dean J. Larry Jameson; Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel; Graduate School of Education Dean Pam Grossman; Penn Arts and Sciences Dean Steven J. Fluharty; and School of Social Policy & Practice Dean John L. Jackson Jr.

“Three years on from the opening of the Penn Wharton China Center, Penn is witnessing deeper and more diverse engagement with China than at any time in its history,” said Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Zeke Emanuel. “With the PWCC in Beijing and campus-based organizations like the Center for the Study of Contemporary China, the Center for Global Health, and Perry World House, and the CREF fund to support individual faculty, Penn faculty are able to consider China’s role across multiple issues — everything from geopolitics, to urbanization, to health care, and the future of technology.”

Research and Engagement

Penn CREF is a five-year, $10 million competitive matching program designed to stimulate and support activity in China and engagement with PWCC. The result has been growing interest in China across all of Penn’s 12 schools. CREF-awarded research largely falls into five themes, which, in turn, are informing Penn’s ongoing and future engagement in China: health and health care; business and political economy; innovation and technology; urban development; and media, culture, and humanities.

As of January 2018, CREF has facilitated Penn’s commitment to collaboration and innovation. The fund has supported 28 proposals at a funding level of $5.4 million, enabling collaborations between Penn faculty members across schools and more than 35 unique Chinese institutional partners and seven organizations around the world.

In addition to supporting faculty research and student activities, and facilitating new relationships with Chinese institutions, PWCC also serves as a base for almost 2,000 Chinese students studying and learning on the Penn campus and more than 4,500 alumni from all over the world who call China home.

“In the past three years, PWCC has become a bustling place where our students, alumni, parents, and friends gather to learn and to exchange new ideas. It is a place for knowledge dissemination, for lifelong learning, for cutting-edge ideas, and for reminiscence of the Penn and Wharton experience. In short, it is a happening place in Beijing,” said PWCC Director John Zhang, Wharton’s Tsai Wan-Tsai Professor of Marketing.

In a large classroom at the Penn Wharton China Center, scholars from Penn’s Fox Leadership International program and Kleinman Center for Energy Policy present work in the area of U.S.-China energy and environmental cooperation as part of the Dimensions of U.S.-China Leadership conference in Oct. 2016.
In a large classroom at the Penn Wharton China Center, scholars from Penn’s Fox Leadership International program and Kleinman Center for Energy Policy present work in the area of U.S.-China energy and environmental cooperation as part of the Dimensions of U.S.-China Leadership conference in Oct. 2016.

“As of the end of February this year, 276 events have taken place at PWCC, and they have attracted over 17,000 alumni and friends. PWCC is also a great branding tool for Penn and Wharton,” Zhang added. “Our study has shown that the hits from the Baidu Chinese keyword search for ‘University of Pennsylvania’ have increased from 2,780,000 for the two years and eight months duration prior to the PWCC’s opening to 3,990,000 for the two years and eight months since. The same measurements for Wharton are 972,000 and 1,300,000 respectively.”

The University also launched Forerunner China, a student-orientation program organized by Penn Global and the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Held at the PWCC, the program ensures that international students can hit the ground running when they arrive in Philadelphia. The program has been so successful that it was replicated in India in 2016.

Forerunner China has continued to grow, from 150 participants in 2015 to more than 240 in 2017, with 149 new graduate and undergraduate students and 99 others, including new parents, current students, current parents, alumni, and Penn ISSS staff.

Participating in Forerunner China, Penn graduate students Hong Zhang, Arts and Sciences, Lixu Wang, PennDesign, and Xia Qu, Penn Law, help to pre-orient admitted Penn students at the Penn Wharton China Center, July 2015.
Participating in Forerunner China, Penn graduate students Hong Zhang, Arts and Sciences, Lixu Wang, PennDesign, and Xia Qu, Penn Law, help to pre-orient admitted Penn students at the Penn Wharton China Center, July 2015.

Opening Doors

In 2017, the Beijing-based Center brought together students, alumni, and expert faculty at dozens of events each month — more than 100 in the year — ranging from CREF symposiums to alumni receptions, gatherings, and lectures featuring industry thought leaders from the U.S. and China.

In the Global Business Week program, held in September and led by Karl Ulrich, Wharton’s vice dean for entrepreneurship and innovation, PWCC hosted 60 students from the MBA Program for Executives. The program included a week of daily on-site visits to a number of leading local corporations, such as Hua Wei, Tencent, and Alibaba, and concluded with debriefings at PWCC. The program culminated in final presentations and a panel with two local Wharton alumni, Mi Dai, WG’10, from Joy Capital, and Xing Liu, WG’04, from Sequoia Capital.

In addition to Penn’s standing as a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, the University’s reputation as a research powerhouse is also represented by the CREF symposiums held at the PWCC. Many CREF projects are reporting progress on the Fund’s goals of research, engagement, innovation, and impact.

“Our physical presence in China has precipitated a transformation on the Philadelphia campus,” said Executive Director of Penn Global and Penn China Initiatives Amy Gadsden. “China-focused activities are underway in all 12 Penn schools, and for faculty in many disciplines, engagement with China is becoming critical to their research. With PWCC and CREF, Penn can stay at the forefront of China-based and China-focused research, ensuring that we become a leading institution in the study of the future of China.”

Medical Advances for Stroke Victims

CREF is helping to expand on the long history of cooperation and engagement between medical professionals at Penn and in China: University graduates first traveled to China in the 1820s and were prominent collaborators in developing Western medicine there.

Renyu Liu, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, received a 2018 CREF award to enhance the stroke awareness campaign in China. There, 2 million stroke patients die each year — five times the mortality rate for stroke in the United States. The program’s goal is to improve stroke awareness, rapid recognition, and reducing pre-hospital delay.

Penn’s Renyu Liu (left) and Fudan University’s Jing Zhao with a campaign poster for the Stroke 1-2-0 strategy.
Penn’s Renyu Liu (left) and Fudan University’s Jing Zhao with a campaign poster for the Stroke 1-2-0 strategy.

“Even in urban settings, the median time to get a stroke victim to the hospital is as long as 15 hours. In rural settings, it could be days,” said R. Liu. “If this will help people recognize the signs and call the number, many lives will be saved and disabilities avoided.”

R. Liu created Stroke 1-2-0 with Jing Zhao, associate professor at Minhang Hospital affiliated with Fudan University. The campaign uses the phone number for a medical emergency in China, 120, as a stroke-recognition system, similar to the English program, FAST (Face, Arm, Speech, and Time.)

In June of 2017, R. Liu was at PWCC to help promote a new series of videos about the Stroke 1-2-0 Rapid Response Program produced in a number of dialects. That campaign was jointly launched by the Special Action Group of the CSA, Tencent Public Welfare, Tencent News, PWCC, and Life Times.

“With the CREF funding, we plan to produce more educational videos related to Stroke 1-2-0,” says R. Liu. “We will investigate the impact of our program.”

The day after Stroke 1-2-0 was published online in Lancet Neurology in September of 2016, the program was officially endorsed by the Chinese Stroke Association (CSA), followed by widespread media and television coverage throughout China. It has since been incorporated into CSA’s practice guidelines. Hours after China Central Television broadcast a special introduction of Stroke 1-2-0 nationwide, the station’s social media account Weibo had more than 101 million views of the program.

The potential impact of the campaign and the related research is profound, and the China-specific program has grown into an international effort.

Said R. Liu, “We have also produced a new program similar to Stroke 1-2-0 — Stroke 1-1-2 — which is suitable for more than 70 countries and regions across the world, helping more potential stroke victims in non-English speaking areas.”

Training for Cardiac Imaging

Yuchi Han’s project, now in its third year, advances cardiac imaging techniques in China and has helped to train more than 170 cardiologists, radiologists, technologists, and physicians throughout the country. Through CREF, Han and colleagues have organized a Penn China Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging Training Course held at the PWCC as part of an annual Cardiac Imaging and Cardiac Intervention Summit since 2016.

Penn Medicine’s Yuchi Han discusses case studies with cardiologists attending the 2017 Penn China Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging Training Course at the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing.
Penn Medicine’s Yuchi Han discusses case studies with cardiologists attending the 2017 Penn China Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging Training Course at the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing.

Han, assistant professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, along with Penn Medicine’s Howard Herrmann, Dinesh Jagasia, Ron Jacob, Walter Witschey, and Harold Litt, has also given lectures and presented case studies to participants via quarterly teleconferences. The ongoing partnership with PLA General Hospital in Beijing, West China Hospital in Chengdu, and Shanghai Renji Hospital has resulted in numerous publications.

“Without the PWCC,” said Han, “we could not have organized our events so seamlessly in such a beautiful facility.”

The Toxicity of Lead Exposure

In the area of CREF-supported health and health care, Penn’s schools of Dental Medicine, Nursing, and Veterinary Medicine are also represented.

In 2017, Penn Global awarded Nursing School Associate Professor Jianghong Liu funding to organize and teach a multidisciplinary Global Seminar, “Environmental Health Issues and Global Implications,” which introduces students to the field of environmental health using interdisciplinary methods. The course is meant to expose students to the basic principles of environmental toxicology and epidemiology.

Penn Nursing students with graduate students from Jiao Tong University at Shanghai’s Key Laboratory of Environmental and Children Health. Pictured center bottom row are, left to right, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Jian Xu and Chong-Haui Yan, and Penn’s Jianhong Liu.
Penn Nursing students with graduate students from Jiao Tong University at Shanghai’s Key Laboratory of Environmental and Children Health. Pictured center bottom row are, left to right, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Jian Xu and Chong-Haui Yan, and Penn’s Jianhong Liu.

This spring, J. Liu is offering the campus-anchored course for the second time. Last May, she traveled to China with a group of students, spending two weeks in Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai, where, in collaboration with Shanghai, Jiaotong, and Southeastern universities, they studied the toxicity of environmental lead exposure.

The seminar builds on J. Liu’s major NIH-funded longitudinal study in China, where, for the past 10 years, she has researched the effect of early lead exposure on 1,600 kindergarten children in the industrial city of Jintan, about 100 miles northwest of Shanghai in the eastern part of the country.

J. Liu noted that her findings have implications for nursing in both China and the U.S. “Nursing is increasingly concerned with disease prevention and health promotion,” she said. “Nurses are in a good position to teach parents about healthy lifestyle and child-rearing habits, as well as ways to reduce their children’s exposure to environmental toxins like lead.”

Penn Nursing students visit “Dr. Lead” Chong-Haui Yan’s Clinic in Shanghai. Yan is an expert in pediatric lead toxicity.
Penn Nursing students visit “Dr. Lead” Chong-Haui Yan’s Clinic in Shanghai. Yan is an expert in pediatric lead toxicity.

A Partnership with Pork Producers

In another CREF-funded project, a Penn Vet-Wharton team is partnering with Chinese pork producers to study the country’s pork industry and improve China’s business practices and expansion while addressing animal welfare and food safety and embracing ideas of efficiency and sustainability. The study is led by Thomas Parsons, associate professor of swine production medicine at the New Bolton Center and director of the Swine Teaching and Research Center, and Wharton’s Anne Greenhalgh, deputy director of the Anne and John McNulty Leadership Program and an adjunct professor of management.

“We’ve certainly seen a lot of our colleagues go to China and mostly where they’ve gotten involved is in what I would call slat-level training: sharing information about how to care for pigs at the level of the barn,” Parsons said. “But through the Penn Wharton China Center, we could see a path that would allow us to get involved in China in a more unique way, offering guidance on a broader, more strategic level, and that was really attractive to us.”

Together, Parsons’ team at Penn Vet and Greenhalgh and her Wharton colleagues arranged the first gathering of a delegation of Chinese pork producers — representing three of the six largest pork producers in the country — as well as Chinese academics, at the PWCC in the spring of 2017. In September, the delegation from China traveled to Philadelphia for a mix of seminars at Wharton and hands-on learning at Pennsylvania swine farms, feed mills, and slaughterhouses.

Communicating across Cultures

Last June, for the third consecutive year, the PWCC hosted a symposium on communications with Guobin Yang, the Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Sociology and Communication in the Annenberg School for Communication. The two-day symposium, “Digital Formations and Chinese Experiences,” was jointly organized by Penn, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Communication Studies, and the School of Media and International Culture of Zhejiang University.

Upwards of 70 scholars from more than 30 domestic and foreign universities attended the symposium, which addressed the way institutions and practices associated with Chinese digital networks such as WeChat and Weibo have revolutionized numerous cultural, social, political, and commercial patterns in the country.

Participants in the inaugural Penn Media Scholars in China program, top row, left to right, Ran Liu, Danielle Goh, Nick Hunsicker, Gene Pak, and Prof. Guobin Yang. Bottom row, left to right, are Skylar Tang, Nick Joyner, Youlim Lee, Joy Lee, and Karen Yang at China Radio International, June 2017.
Participants in the inaugural Penn Media Scholars in China program, top row, left to right, Ran Liu, Danielle Goh, Nick Hunsicker, Gene Pak, and Prof. Guobin Yang. Bottom row, left to right, are Skylar Tang, Nick Joyner, Youlim Lee, Joy Lee, and Karen Yang at China Radio International, June 2017.

With funding from Penn Global and CREF, Yang also led the first Penn Media Scholars in China program, immersing students in China’s media industries, institutions, and citizens’ everyday media practices. Eight Penn undergraduates participated in the inaugural course. They attended the June symposium and spent three weeks between Beijing, where they were hosted by PWCC and the School of Journalism Communication of Renmin University, and the city of Hangzhou, where they were based at the College of Media and International Culture at Zhejiang University.

Nick Joyner, a junior from San Antonio, Texas, who is double majoring in cinema and media studies and communication, said the course opened his eyes to new possibilities and experiences.

Left to right, Danielle Goh, Joy Lee, Karen Yang, Nick Hunsicker, Gene Pak, Nick Joyner, Youlim Lee, and Skylar Tang visit the summer palace, Beijing.
Left to right, Danielle Goh, Joy Lee, Karen Yang, Nick Hunsicker, Gene Pak, Nick Joyner, Youlim Lee, and Skylar Tang visit the summer palace, Beijing.

“As someone who is interested in pursuing journalism, I appreciated how the program allowed me to observe the interaction between national media and governmental systems,” he said. “Though I’ve traveled abroad, I’d never experienced something as immersive as PMSC. The local university partnerships were especially instrumental in ensuring that we could be embedded in student life. I’m also glad that we were able to visit several schools that sponsor international graduate fellowships, including Tsinghua and Peking universities, which I’ve begun considering as possible post-graduate opportunities.”

Extending Penn’s Global Presence

Expanding student opportunities in China is a big part of the mission of PWCC, which offers resources and services for students, faculty, and alumni. The Center also serves as a gathering place for the Penn community.

Junior Liliane Kevine Ikirezi, from Kigali, Rwanda, at the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Junior Liliane Kevine Ikirezi, from Kigali, Rwanda, at the Forbidden City in Beijing.

This spring, junior Liliane Kevine Ikirezi, from Kigali, Rwanda, spent spring break studying in China as part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s semester-long Penn Global Seminar on “Technology in Business and Society” which included a weeklong immersion in Beijing and Shanghai.

“Being in PWCC felt like being at Penn, yet in the middle of Beijing,” said Kevine Ikirezi, “from the statue of Benjamin Franklin sitting on a bench with a Pennsylvania Gazette in his left hand to the very modern conference rooms, which look like an advanced version of the Wharton classrooms, and staff, who were very helpful in introducing us to China. While there, we spent the evening having great conversations with some Penn alumni in China. In Beijing, we also visited many companies with Penn connections, including Venustech, a network security company in China founded by 1996 Penn grad Jane Yan.”

Ikirezi is majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in entrepreneurship. “I was amazed,” she said, “by how the Penn influence and impact not only abounds in the U.S., but goes across the Pacific in China and many other countries.”

The Penn Wharton China Center has been instrumental in extending Penn’s influence and reach.

Angela Duckworth of Penn’s Department of Psychology speaks to a Chinese audience via telepresence as part of the Penn Wharton Research Frontiers Speaker Series at the PWCC.
Angela Duckworth of Penn’s Department of Psychology speaks to a Chinese audience via telepresence as part of the Penn Wharton Research Frontiers Speaker Series at the PWCC.

As part of this reach, advanced teleconferencing capabilities allow for real-time exchange between the campus and the Center. The new Penn Wharton Research Frontiers Speaker Series, launched in March 2017, allows Penn experts to speak to Beijing audiences on a range of research topics across many miles.

Series speakers have included School of Social Policy and Practice Dean John Jackson with former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; MacArthur Fellow Angela Duckworth, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences; Penn Engineering Professor Shu Yang; and Wharton Professor Kevin Werbach, among others.

This story was adapted from a Penn Today article by Amanda Mott. 

Posted: May 31, 2018

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