iLEAD’s China Module Provides Global View for Next-Generation Business Leaders

September 24, 2015

A select group of next-generation global business leaders completed the inaugural 2015 iLEAD program’s 10-day China Module recently, experiencing unparalleled international networking opportunities, world-class academic discussions, interactive panels with select executives, visits to leading Chinese companies and practical hands-on learning opportunities.

A select group of next-generation global business leaders completed the inaugural 2015 iLEAD program’s 10-day China Module recently, experiencing unparalleled international networking opportunities, world-class academic discussions, interactive panels with select executives, visits to leading Chinese companies and practical hands-on learning opportunities.

Experience the 10-day iLEAD China Module in less than 3 minutes.

A collaboration between CKGSB, Cornell University, US China Partners Inc. and Next Opportunity Group, the iLEAD executive education program is the only one of its kind that prepares both US and Chinese legacy family leaders as well as other first-generation entrepreneurs for future global success through networking and collaborative learning, with modules in both China and the US.

The iLEAD group poses for a photo in the library at CKGSB’s Beijing campus

iLEAD’s overall learning objectives are to help next-generation global business leaders:

  • Realize the critical importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in sustaining family business
  • Understand how to globalize a family enterprise
  • Learn to do business with China and the US
  • Deepen relationship between wealth, values and family legacies
  • Master strategies for sustaining wealth over generations
  • Develop skills to lead and manage in cross-cultural settings
  • Form lasting friendships, build a pre-eminent global business network, and leverage real business opportunities

The China Module featured 6 days in Beijing before moving on to Shanghai. Participants completed the US Module in June. The enrollment process for 2016 will begin soon – contact Alan Chen at +1-646-627-7735 or

Among the highlights of this multi-faceted deep dive in China:

Panel Discussions with Select Executives and Academics

Participants were privileged to engage in several high-level discussions with top-level Chinese CEOs and senior executives. For example:

Chinese Family Business Panel

Objective: To hear first-hand perspectives on the specific issues and challenges unique to family businesses in China.


  • Wang Shuogong (Paul), a CKGSB MBA alum and creator of an app similar to Task Rabbit that does chores and other errands for customers on demand in China. He is the child of a family of entrepreneurs in the import/export business.
  • He Changting, CEO of LVC Group (山水文园), a renowned real estate company. He is also chairman of X+1 club, an entrepreneur’s club for CKGSB graduates.
  • Moderated by Shalom Saar, iLEAD Faculty Director, CKGSB and MIT Professor of Managerial Practice, and Teng Bingsheng, CKGSB Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Strategic Management.


Shalom Saar, left, Teng Bingsheng, He Changting and Wang Shuogong (Paul) during the Chinese Family Business Panel


Both Mr. Wang and Mr. He noted a similar trend: Children of successful family businesses in China often desire to strike out on their own rather than stay within the family company.

Mr. He said that 70% of CKGSB graduates feel this way. Children often see their parents in businesses that are old-style, industrial and a bit outdated, and they want to pursue social media or technology businesses instead. 

Mr. Wang followed that path in the creation of his “on-demand” app. He described the challenge of proving this new business model to initial investors who prefer something that is already established.

“It is really hard to be new,” Mr. Wang said. You have to show how you are similar to other successful business models, yet how you are different from them as well. You have to show how you are one step ahead of the competition and what your competitive advantages are.

Mr. He talked about the difficulties that can arise when children do enter into the family business.

In order for a child to take over his father’s business successfully, the child must genuinely enjoy working in that business and have a passion for it, Mr. He said. The child must get a wide range of experience in the business over many years so they truly understand how it works before they are in a position to take over when the father wants to retire.

Visits to Leading Chinese and American Companies

The iLEAD group took many visits to Chinese and American companies and start-ups with significant global impact, interacting with top executives along the way. An overview of some key visits:


Company at a glance: Founded in 1994, Haidilao is a private company that has grown to own and operate more than 100 “hot pot” restaurants all over China, employing about 20,000 people. They have recently opened some locations in the US and Canada and plan further international expansion.


A “Many Faces” actor entertains the iLEAD crowd during a group dinner at a Haidilao restaurant in Beijing


Two managing directors of the company led a tour of a major distribution center that supplies 30 Beijing-area restaurants each day. The Haidilao executives described the emphasis they put on high quality, local ingredients. They also focus on employee training so that busboys can work toward managing a restaurant over time. Haidilao also offers unique services for its customers, including a free game room and free manicures while waiting for tables. The restaurant also features free entertainment such as a “Many Faces” actor and a “Noodle Cowboy.” The iLEAD group enjoyed a wonderful “hot pot” meal at a Haidilao restaurant that evening.

Shanghai Stock Exchange

Company at a glance: Founded in 1990, the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) is a membership institution directly governed by the China Securities Regulatory Commission. The SSE has become the most preeminent stock market in Mainland China and the third largest stock exchange in the world after the NYSE and NASDAQ.


The iLEAD group with the Gong at the Shanghai Stock Exchange

Touring the SSE’s museum and visiting the Gong where trading opens and closes and IPOs are celebrated, the iLEAD group also met with an SSE official who shared the company’s history as well as its future plans for growth and expansion. The tour took place in the midst of July’s dramatic stock market slide in China and offered a unique inside look into the effects of the Chinese government’s attempts to stabilize the market.

Also among the companies the iLEADers visited:

Perfect World

Company at a glance: Perfect World is a company of online game research and development, operation, marketing and service. It was established in 2004 and was listed on NASDAQ in 2007. Headquartered in Beijing, Perfect World has its wholly-owned subsidiaries to operate its games independently in North America, Europe and Japan, and has successfully licensed its games to the leading game operators in a number of countries and regions in Asia, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and other Russian-speaking areas. Perfect World has built a significant presence on the overseas market and has been exporting its games to more than 100 countries and regions in the world, providing high-quality online entertainment service to global internet users worldwide.


Company at a glance: Longfor Properties, founded in Chongqing in 1993, has built a nationwide presence in China as a premier developer focusing on quality products and services. Longfor Properties is currently engaged in property development, investment and management. Listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2009, the Group now has nearly 15,000 employees and a presence in 24 cities in Western China, the Pan Bohai Rim, Yangtze River Delta, South China and Central China. It has developed more than 100 projects.

Company at a glance: Based in Shanghai and established in 2008, offers online cosmetic retail with the aim to become a “primary portal of quality life for millions of Chinese women.” It was the first cosmetics shopping site in China that attracted numerous experts and stars representing the products it sells. embraces the fashion philosophy of unique style and personality, and advocates a joyful and positive life attitude in order to cater to the needs of female customers. As of February 2014, operates as a subsidiary of Vipshop Holdings Limited.

Experiential Learning

To culminate their time together, iLEAD students took part in a unique physical Team Building Activity in China Century Park in Shanghai near the CKGSB campus. Divided into three teams, the students competed against one another in a range of exercises that increased in difficulty as the rounds progressed. Though one team emerged victorious, all reflected on the team-building lessons learned along the way.


iLEADers prepare for a unique team-building activity in Shanghai

Another important team activity required students to give group presentations on how the companies they visited could improve their performance. A panel of iLEAD judges graded them and deemed one group the winner.


Members of the 2015 iLEAD group in front of a section of the Great Wall

The iLEAD group also bonded and created their own network as a peer group of next-generation leaders during cultural activities ranging from tours of the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and Ming’s Tombs to dinners at many of Beijing and Shanghai’s most notable restaurants.

Rounded out with daily engaging lectures on core topics by academics from CKGSB, the China Module was a powerful tool for growth and preparation for future success. Participants received a Professional Masters Certificate from Cornell University and CKGSB during a special graduation ceremony.

To learn more about the upcoming 2016 iLEAD program, visit the iLEAD website, or contact Alan Chen at +1-646-627-7735 or

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