Welcome to MBA Voices
Zhilei has one of the transformational stories to tell about his path to MBA – a story of relentless determination, hard work and sacrifice to achieve his goals. Having born in Suwan, a small town in Anhui Province of China – he got into the elite Fudan medical school, Shanghai. As he pursued his medical course, he parallelly enrolled himself to a second bachelor’s degree in economics and completed it successfully.
After completing his post-graduation in Medicine, he became a successful neurosurgeon (a speciality that is highly competitive amongst the doctors in china) in a top hospital and has performed thousands of critical surgeries. Following that, he moved to a corporate career raising through the ranks quickly and now finally pursues his MBA from CEIBS and is set to graduate in 2016.
Oh wait, on top of CEIBS MBA, he is additionally pursuing a Master’s in Public Health in USA. Read his full story below (covered in 2 parts).
Zhilei Guo – Neurosurgeon turned CEIBS MBA (Part 1/2)
Name: Zhilei Guo
Business School: China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)
Year of Graduation: 2016
Career Specialization: Healthcare
Love: Movie and Hiking outside
Hate: Disorder and disease
Interesting Works: Healthcare Investment, Conducted regular free clinics for individuals without medical insurance as well as trained country doctors in rural China
What are your childhood factors that prompted you to become a doctor, especially a neurosurgeon?
Every kid has a dream. My dream kick started during my highschool days when my Grandfather and Grandmother died from stroke and cancer. At that time, the medical services in rural china weren’t that good. I realized that if I could become a doctor, I can save many patients who otherwise will not get proper care.
Neurosurgery is one of the top areas where medical students specialize. The standards are quite high to get into. But, I was fortunate to get into it due to my academic credentials and interest to perform surgery.
When you were studying for Medicine you also pursued a degree in Economics in parallel. Why?
I grew up in a small town. However, I was studying for medicine at Shanghai which was the leading city in China’s growth. I was very interested to know how the economic and business worlds operate and felt studying Economics will help me to understand them both.
From my medical school in Fudan University, only 2 students chose to study a second major apart from medicine and I was one of the two. It was a difficult choice because it cost me 2 hours on the road every time just to get to the other campus. In spite of this and my regular medical course, it wasn’t that difficult for me since I chose to study Economics based on my interest.
I knew that studying two majors at the same time will be demanding but, wanted to give it a try. It exposed me to various subjects and has widened my knowledge.
What is your motivation in moving from a neurosurgeon to corporate role?
Huashan hospital is one of the top hospitals in China. They have a reputed neurology department and again was very fortunate to be a neurosurgeon in the neuroscience department.
I operated and treated many patients with critical conditions. I discovered that my personal interest was more towards operating and not carrying out research as the situations were leading me into. While the surgeon role was good, it was very demanding as I had to perform several surgeries as well as attend to a large volume of patients every day. Many of my classmates from Economics were into successful corporate careers with a good work-life balance and it was a pull.
Hence, I was open to move into the business world leveraging my qualification as a doctor and neurosurgeon. The choice to make the transition was very difficult as my parents, friends and family were against quitting my surgeon role. But, I had to listen to my inner voice deep down and make the move. I felt, this would be good for my future career. Hence, I decided to resign from my surgeon role and move into a corporate career.
You worked for different pharmaceutical companies with quick growth. What did you learn?
I joined Novartis on an entry level role. It was difficult for me to give up a prestigious role as a neurosurgeon in a top hospital and start at such a level. But, I knew deep in my heart that if I wanted to build a corporate career, I need to undergo this change since I did not have corporate work experience before.
I was okay with this as I believed that my neurosurgeon work experience would accelerate my growth in the corporate world. After several years, this proved true. The work experience helped me to understand the dynamics and expectations of working in multinational companies.
Why did you want to do an MBA? Couldn’t you have waited to gain more work experience?
One of my classmates from my medical school chose to start his career in the consulting world without practising medicine. After 3 years of work experience, he decided to pursue his MBA. He suggested that if I want to accelerate my career in the corporate world, an MBA is a good way to do that. That’s true and it holds good.
When I accumulated 3 years of work experience in the corporate world, which is usually the minimum required by top business schools, I decided it was time to do an MBA. I believe MBA will help me to achieve a quick career growth and hence decided to enrol.
Why CEIBS? You could have done in Europe/North America?
There were several reasons to choose China and CEIBS over others.
- I wanted to develop my future career in China and not in Europe/USA
- There are lot of opportunities in China in the Healthcare sector and I want to be part of it
- CEIBS has a great reputation in China and has several high ranking alumni in the healthcare industry which is very valuable for me
- I also got admitted into a top Business School in USA, but decided to pursue in CEIBS due to my future plans and family situation
Tell us about CEIBS – the class, classmates, faculty, social life etc.
My classmates are quite diverse as we would see in any world class business school. They come from finance, consulting and various other industries. We also have international students from USA, Europe, Latin America and Asia represented in the class.
About half of our professors are Chinese but, have studied and worked in top business schools around the world and the other half of professors come to CEIBS from all over the world to deliver lectures. So, we have good diversity and global perspectives. There are exchange programs and students events. So you have the possibility for a lot of interactions.
CEIBS also attracts high profile speakers from across the globe and in June 2015, Reid Hoffmann and Peter Thiel delivered a master class that was an inspiring event.
Social life & Network – I joined different clubs and attended different events. CEIBS organizes a lot of networking events along with EMBA and Chinese business community and I do participate in all these events.
What was your favourite part of CEIBS so far?
My favourite part of the CEIBS MBA was when I organized the Health care entrepreneurship conference event in the very first month of the course. It was attended by several experts in the business, medical and policy making circles. Through this event, I developed a very good relationship with the CEIBS healthcare alumni and industry leaders as well as how to communicate with them. I also learnt how to proactively develop relationship and network with industry leaders.
For MBA’s the most important thing is network – both for your job search as well as career. Earlier, I did not know how to network. But through this event and later, I developed my networking skills and practiced it.
Graduating from an MBA itself is stretching, why do you simultaneously pursue a Master of Public Health in a totally different continent? How do you manage to do both?
Currently, I am also studying for a Master of Public Health in Johns Hopkins University, USA as it has a global reputation. I decided to do this course after enrolling on my MBA. I am interested in healthcare leadership, management and administration and see it as directly related to my career interests and this will prepare me well. I also wanted to have overseas healthcare exposure.
The first year of the MBA is always intense and I finished all my core courses. This helps me to focus on the other course. However, my aim is to finish both these courses successfully. It is not difficult for me.
To access Part 2/2 – Click Here
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