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Real Humans of the CEIBS MBA Class of 2023

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Archie Preston, CEIBS MBA Class of 2023ceibs mba class of 2023

Age: 30
Hometown: London, UK
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Cambridge, Chinese Studies
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8 years, finance

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I have two very clear reasons why I would like to attend business school, one is to study and the other is to meet more people and learn from them. As my undergraduate was not business or finance-focused, I am keen to get better insight into management and business models, building on the foundation I have accumulated during my career. I also want to meet more driven, impressive people around my age and share experience and knowledge. 

I was originally considering starting last year, but there were two projects which I wanted to finish at my company. By this year, it felt like the perfect time for me to be getting the most out of business school. 

Why did you choose CEIBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I only ever considered CEIBS in terms of a business school in China; however, I did also receive offers from US schools. The decision of whether to study in China or the US came at a really interesting time in the geopolitics of the two nations. After thinking at length, based on my background and where I felt the dynamism in the world economy lay in the short to medium term, I felt that it made much more sense for me to spend time focused on the Greater China region and building out my network here. My decision was predominantly led by where I saw my career going in the short to medium term and what would position me best for post-MBA life. That’s not to say that I don’t think there is a huge amount of value in a US MBA (and indeed in the future growth of the US economy), but it was a personal choice based on my own areas of interest.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
Due to my role of heading China execution for a cross-border China-Europe investment bank, I have been lucky enough to get significant exposure to a wide array of founders, Chairmen and CEOs in China. In this role, I have learnt a lot about doing business in China (and still learning every day) and feel I can contribute value to my fellow classmates in this regard. Also, as someone who has spent a fairly significant amount of time at the juncture between China and Europe, I hope I can assist in binding together the CEIBS family. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
Presumably, this needs to be a fun fact about myself. One of my side hustles is acting, I have performed in several professional productions in Hong Kong. Sadly, I always seemed to be cast as the arrogant finance guy, which I started to take personally… 

Post-MBA career interests:
Finance, healthcare, consumer… I haven’t decided yet and am excited about exploring each of these areas in more details.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Get advice from current/previous students on how to approach the application and understand what each interview would likely entail. I had a friend who was very familiar with the MBA application process and he gave me loads of great advice.

What is one thing you would change or do differently?
There was one school which I applied to that I knew I didn’t want to go to and would never have accepted. I would say be really selective about which schools you are going to apply to because each application takes a lot of your and your referees’ time.

What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Because of COVID, I ended up flying to a Thai island and doing most of my GMAT preparation outside a small wooden hut just off the beach. Doing algebra near the beach was a depressing feeling. The Tiger beers and occasional dip in the ocean did help a lot though.

What is your initial impression of the CEIBS students/culture/community?
A really impressive and diverse bunch of people. I don’t know what I was expecting on that first intro session, but I can honestly say I was taken aback at how interesting everyone’s background was and the consistently high caliber of my classmates-to-be.

What is one thing you have learned about CEIBS that has surprised you?
I was surprised to learn how busy all the current students were! I applied to CEIBS because I wanted to learn, but I was not expecting to hear quite how much work there was going to be – from what I understand, students are kept extremely busy in the first two terms. This came as a bit of a shock. I guess I will find out for myself soon.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
Not really, save for my GMAT preparation as mentioned above.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m not a very anxious person. I’m looking forward to the course and if I was anxious about anything it would be to make sure I use my time well and don’t miss out on any great experiences.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Hopefully keeping a bit fitter than I did when I was working long hours in the office every day! Apart from that, I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know my classmates.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.