CityU EMBA - Diversity creates Buzz

By Eric Collins

Professor Wenyu Dou is Associate Dean of Graduate Programmes at the College of Business and Director of the EMBA (Chinese) programme. Professor Dou received his PhD in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and joined the Department of Marketing in 2004. He previously taught in St. Cloud State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Professor Dou's research interests include advertising, e-commerce, and social media marketing.

The CityU EMBA programme has been running for many years delivered in an English language version. Professor Dou has led the curriculum design of the EMBA (Chinese) for its launch in 2014, targeting Putonghua-speaking executives and entrepreneurs.

Professor Wenyu Dou

Consider this issue:

Times are hard. Your company has to cut its workforce by 20%. You must negotiate with your manufacturing, marketing, administration and finance departments. The blue collar workers are potentially hostile. Your oldest colleague heads up marketing. Administration and finance always argue they are indispensable. Where do you start?

"This is the kind of scenario we plunge our students into," says Professor Wenyu Dou, Director of the EMBA (Chinese) programme. "We put our students in the spotlight – literally. The scenario is explored over a whole day workshop, with students taking different roles; worker, secretary, manager, or CEO, and seeing the issue from various perspectives. The performance is recorded and then played back on a large screen for analysis. This is one of the programme highlights. The students just love it!"

The next Jack Ma?

The popularity of such learning scenarios is partly down to the type of students the EMBA is attracting.

"We go out of our way to work with the ambitious and dynamic," Professor Dou continues.

"We target people looking to jump start their careers, those who have international aspirations, those who have something to say. The great joy of working with these people is that we help them discover their own potential. It's all based on a global vision, a free exchange of ideas, and the realization that we can enjoy our time together. We are actively looking for people who can fit into this kind of proactive learning culture."

The majority of EMBA students are from private enterprises in China, with a sprinkling of entrepreneurs.

"We don't take highly established business leaders, like the Jack Ma's of this world. In fact we wouldn't get him anyhow!" joked Professor Dou. "But we do bring young ambitious business leaders and inspire them to be the next Jack Ma."


Most EMBA professors were born in China, educated overseas, and are now back here, so the cultural specificities of the China market are well understood. Hong Kong, with its high profile international status and unrestricted flow of information, is an ideal setting in which to teach international business. At the same time the commercial heart of Shenzhen is only a 30 minute MTR ride away.

"We incorporate trending social phenomena into our lectures. If it happened yesterday in China, we can talk about it today. We are on the same wavelength as our students," enthuses Professor Dou.

Hot topics

The EMBA (Chinese) is a new programme designed from the ground up. This allows CB to adopt innovative teaching methodologies and to integrate new elements into the curriculum. Hot topics such as big data, mergers and acquisitions, social media, and customer experience are all there.

"These courses are quite cutting-edge for business schools in the Greater China region. It means our students are totally up to date with the latest innovations," says Professor Dou.

Language issue

There has been strong demand for an internationalized EMBA programme from mainland executives for several years. However English has been an obstacle for many potential students who may think that leading overseas teaching faculty lack understanding of Chinese markets, culture, and language.

"Students want to learn advanced international business strategy - but need to apply it in the current mainland China market. For many this Putonghua-medium EMBA programme ticks all the boxes."

The human factor

According to Professor Dou there is also a human factor at work.

"Our cohorts are the more traditional Chinese type. They expect professors to socialize. Mainland students want international professors, but they also want people who they can go and have a drink with. This relationship building creates mutual appreciation, and understanding."

"CB is a high profile, trusted international brand, with a proven track record. Students come to us because they want to learn from faculty with international business expertise, but also from people they can understand and empathize with."

Creative mix

"We have a slogan: Master the wisdom of both Chinese and Western cultures – execute as a business education pioneer."

"We have a slogan for our programme Master the wisdom of both Chinese and Western cultures – execute as a business education pioneer. Hong Kong is famous as an international business centre where Chinese and Western cultures meet. We introduce advanced international business theories, but at the same time our teaching is based on an understanding of the mainland's economic environment. I think it is our responsibility to integrate these two elements. That's a creative mix."

Diversity creates buzz

A typical cohort from mainland China is quite diverse, with students coming from many kinds of sectors and industries. Commerce, finance, real estate, medical, pharmaceutical, resource companies, and the communications industry are all represented. This brings more innovative, dynamic and diverse thinking into class. Student expectations are also more varied.

"Professional diversity means that brainstorming can yield great results. There's always the potential for introducing inspiring ideas into class. Then there's geographical diversity. Even inside a single province in China, ways of doing business may vary. And we attract students from all over the country. Diversity creates buzz."


The EMBA curriculum is constantly innovating. A new course in big data, e-commerce and retailing is soon to be launched with course leader, Professor Leon Zhao of the Department of Information Systems, an expert in this area.

"The course is planned so that the students can contribute their own expertise. The goal is to compile the final result into a book, a mini form of crowdsourcing and certainly an innovative way to write," comments Professor Dou.

International dimension

The EMBA (Chinese) programme excels at teamwork building on outward bound training and hikes in Hong Kong country parks. But the programme also provides students with a rich international learning experience, giving its students exposure to overseas business, and featuring company visits and consultancy projects. Two international study trips are planned for the current cohort: to Tilburg in the Netherlands this year and to UC Berkeley next year.


The EMBA programme teaches the latest innovations in social media, and it uses them too:

"We post news reports on WeChat, Facebook, etc. and use social media for communication and relationship building. This can be a mixed blessing as we find ourselves online 24 hours of the day, but as ever we are just trying to maximize student engagement," says Professor Dou, opening his smartphone – and in the process doubtless reconnecting with some of his EMBA students.