Brandeis International Business School

An enduring connection in China

Brandeis students past, present and future celebrate together at recent events

Incoming Dean Kathryn Graddy (fourth from right) with alumni, faculty and staff in Beijing.
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Incoming Dean Kathryn Graddy (fourth from right) with alumni, faculty and staff in Beijing.

It was a day Ally Deng, MBA ‘08, won’t forget.

On May 17, a group of 28 students from Brandeis International Business School (IBS) arrived at Tencent global headquarters in Shenzhen, China.

For Deng, a senior product manager in the internet company’s FinTech division, the visit offered a rare chance to roll out the red carpet for her alma mater.

“It felt like a family reunion,” said Deng. “Even though many of us had never met, we’re all connected through Brandeis IBS.”

The trip to Tencent — which included a VIP tour and valuable networking opportunities with staff — was just one of several recent highlights in China.

In May, as current students embarked on the Hassenfeld immersion trip that brought them to Tencent and other top Chinese employers, Brandeis IBS hosted five alumni and admitted student events in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

For the hundreds of alumni who attended, the events also served as an introduction to Kathryn Graddy, who weeks earlier was named incoming dean at Brandeis IBS.

“There’s a lot of excitement in China right now,” said Graddy. “We have over 1,000 Brandeis graduates from China and many are building very successful careers. These events were a fun way to come together and celebrate that success.”

A ‘hub’ for alumni in China

May also marked the re-establishment of the Brandeis University Alumni Club of Greater China. In a welcome message sent to Brandeis IBS alumni on WeChat, club representatives wrote that the group “will serve as the hub for connecting our local alumni to each other and with the broader Brandeis community.”

The club is comprised of a senior committee and three regional representatives who will help coordinate events and outreach efforts — Chang Liu ‘12 (Beijing), Sean Xiang, MA ‘09 (Shanghai) and Lan Xue ’90, MA ’91 (Hong Kong).

For Graddy, who attended a reception in Hong Kong and welcome dinners in both Beijing and Shanghai, the trip to China represented the best of Brandeis IBS.

At several events, alumni were joined by the Hassenfeld fellows and groups of newly admitted students who will start at Brandeis IBS in the fall.

“These are Brandeis students past, present and future,” said Graddy. “To watch them all networking together in one room was just a phenomenal experience. It’s something we’ll surely continue in the future because the energy was so positive.”

‘I’m part of something big’

Growing up in Mumbai, India, Sudhanshu Yardi, MSF ‘18, often wondered what it would be like to visit China.

He got his chance as a Hassenfeld fellow.

During visits to tech giant Huawei and leading drone manufacturer DJI, Yardi marveled at the technological innovation on display. He was also struck by the scale of their business plans.

“All of these companies have the ambition to be world leaders,” said Yardi. “They are looking to innovate. It was so fascinating.”

Every spring, a select group of Brandeis IBS students participate in the Hassenfeld Fellow Overseas Immersion Program. For fellows like Yardi, the program offers a memorable mix of business, networking and cultural activities.

At alumni events in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Yardi made connections with Brandeis IBS alumni currently working for Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and HSBC.

“It made me feel like I’m part of something big,” said Yardi. “There are Brandeis IBS alumni working at top companies around the world. It’s something to aspire to.”

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