True grit! The Gobi Challenge

Eight CityU EMBA programme students teamed up to compete in The Tenth Xuanzang Road Business School Gobi Challenge 第十屆玄奘之路商學院戈壁挑戰賽 between 22nd – 25th May, and came away with the Shackleton Prize for the highest completion rate (100%). This year the Challenge took place along the Guazhou section of the Silk Road, Dunhuang City, Gansu Province in western China, a major stop on the historical Silk Road linking China with India and Europe.

Team members representing the College in the Challenge: Limin Bai, Yudian Chen, Yan Guan, Wen Wang, Jigang Yang and Ruijun Yang of 2014 Cohort; and Yi Wang and Tianhua Wu of 2015 Cohort

Around 2,000 EMBA students from 43 global top business schools took part in the four-day Challenge. The test of physical fitness saw participants negotiating on foot over 100 kilometers of uninhabited Gobi desert. With the route at over 1,000 meters in altitude, and with over 20°C difference between day and night temperatures, qualities of physical strength, perseverance, teamwork, cooperation, courage and endurance were required.

The Challenge originated as an international cultural event, Pilgrimage Journey of Xuanzang, launched in 2006 by China Central Television (CCTV), retracing the footsteps of a Chinese Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty on his journey to India. Along the way participants had the opportunity to discover Xuanzang's values and his impact on human history. His journey also points to the commercial wisdom and pioneering spirit which emerged in the Tang Dynasty 1,300 years ago.

Students' testimonials:
"The landscape was so beautiful. You could not regret having been in that place. The challenge enriched my life and enlightened my soul. The experience broadened my horizon."
– Yudian Chen

"It was a tough yet unforgettable adventure. The reward was invaluable. I had never tried sleeping in a tent for three nights. I was never fond of walking, but I left my footprints (112km) on one of the world's greatest deserts. I felt lucky for the support of my family, friends, peers, and professors. The medal and glory belong to you all!"
– Yi Wang

At the finishing point, Professor Wenyu Dou, EMBA (Chinese) Programme Director and Associate Dean (Graduate Programmes) of the College, hailed the team's achievement: "By endurance we conquered. Congratulations to all team members, you have created history! The challenge also proved that you all have infinite potentiality and ability in overcoming all difficulties and limits. It was also a valuable experience for you to gain some insights on how senior executives apply the challenges and difficulties encountered on the journey to the challenges of the fast-evolving business situation."

This was the first year that the CB team had competed in the gruelling race. As new players, all team members underwent a series of training sessions in order to thoroughly prepare them for the journey.

The Shackleton Prize is named after Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer, best known for leading the "Endurance" expedition of 1914-16. It was set up to award those teams with the highest completion percentage in terms of team members.

For more information on the Challenge: