Alibaba has started to hire MBAs, too

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Alibaba is China's Ebay, Alibaba's payment system Alipay its Paypal. Founder Jack Ma brought e-commerce to everyone. When it comes to hiring senior executives, though, his company is circling in on an elite group – those who underwent an MBA programme at a top business school. According to the Financial Times, Alibaba's business development managers are meeting careers teams at China Europe International Business School (Ceibs) in Shanghai, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, and the London School of Economics in the UK. 

Ma himself underwent the chief executive programme at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing in 2006, but in the past has been critical of MBA graduates. His new interest in MBAs “reflects the fact that Alibaba now has global impact, with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange,” writes the Financial Times.

One entry point for MBAs is the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy (AGLA), a one-year scheme for graduates with at least three years’ work experience. The first class is about to be sent on assignments all over the world. Coming from 14 different nations, half of the cohort has returned to their home nations to work at the local offices of Alibaba. The other half will be involved in global business units based in China. In 2016 3,000 people applied for AGLA's 30 places.

Brian Wong, an American MBA graduate who grew up in Silicon Valley, created the AGLA programme. He stresses other ways for MBAs to find a role at Alibaba. “We just hired 44 business development people for our cloud-related services,” he is quoted by the Financial Times.

Alibaba has not always been so keen on hiring staff with formal or even MBA qualifications. Jack Ma kept saying he disliked professional managers, because they were good in taking orders, but rarely take chances. “When we talk about leadership at Alibaba, a lot of it relates to grit and resilience, and that resilience only comes from experience – life experience,” said Mr. Wong.“ According to Jack Ma the best way to identify a leader is “to throw them in the battlefield and see who comes back alive.”

In most Chinese MBA programmes, courses are taught by both Chinese and foreign professors. MBA in China expect applicants to have at least three years working experience and a bachelor’s degree or above.

China Europe International Business School or CEIBS offers China’s largest full-time, English-taught MBA (EMBA) programme, which is currently the world’s largest EMBA programme. CEIBS is also the first business school in mainland China to have been accredited by both Equis and AACSB and the only business school in Asia to have simultaneously made it to the Financial Times top 30 list of MBA, EMBA and Executive Education programmes.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University Antai College of Economics and Management is consistently ranked among the Top three business schools in China. It is also is the first business school in Mainland China to be triply accredited by AACSB, Equis, and the Association of MBAs. Antai offers full-time and part-time MBA programs.

Renmin University of China Schools of Business or RBS was the first business school to offer an MBA in China and is considered by many a cradle of China’s Business Education. Professors provide students with expertise in Chinese and international business practices, reflecting the School’s mission of “China Root, Global Reach”.

MBA Studies has a list of MBA programmes in China:


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