I visited Shanghai this week as part of my program’s collaboration with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in the China Leaders for Global Operations program (click through to see yours truly in a lineup with dignitaries). This program was modeled on the MIT LGO program and delivers a similar dual-degree MBA / engineering master’s program for top Chinese Engineering grads. The courses are all in English and most of the faculty have been hosted at MIT to be mentored in the courses they teach at SJTU.
Being introduced as “Professor Jacobs” to the CLGO students and invited to comment on their project mid-stream reports represent a few more steps on my Weird Journey (Back) to Manufacturing. But my peculiar expertise actually turned out to be relevant when talking to one student, who said that at his project host company (a major US-based computer manufacturer) he keeps being urged to be more aggressive and proactive. “But,” he said, “at school I have other interests, like Chinese classical literature, so at [the company] it is very different.” Tell me about it, brother! In general, the China LGO students do not yet have the high-gloss MBA polish of their MIT counterparts, but are highly valued by the CLGO partner companies for their combination of technical strength, MIT-based business/leadership experience, and Chinese cultural grounding. For the MIT students, regular summer visits to Boston by the CLGOs and opportunities for many to visit Shanghai for projects have made the connection to CLGO an important part of their experience (click through to read an LGO’s blog about the CLGO summer visit).
I got to see a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist temple right in the heart of the Shanghai super-luxe area. Jing’an Temple was apparently burned down during the Cultural Revolution and then reconstructed in the 80s. How does state government investment in Tibetan Buddhist cultural sites in Shanghai relate to state policy towards Tibetan autonomy and cultural identity in Tibet? Discuss. I would love for some distinguished authority on Chinese history (or Tibetan Buddhism) to clue me in on the many meanings I missed amidst the beauty, smell of joss sticks burning, and sense of combined serenity and routine that I associate with Buddhist observance. Looming over the temple is a giant image of a self-satisfied Hugo Boss model, because that’s how Shanghai rolls.
Went back with my colleagues to Tian Zi Fang, an old alleyways community that got reclaimed by artists in the 80s/90s and is now still kind of real-feeling–still has people living there–even as encroaching gentrification threatens Disney-fication.
I had dinner last night with a Shanghainese guy who went to Middlebury and married a Jewish girl from Connecticut. They had various international adventures and decided to have the family base be right in our neighborhood in Boston, while he spends 75% of his time back in SH managing the Greater China operations of a sexy lifestyle headphone company, Skullcandy. If you are reading this you are almost certainly too old to wear them–sorry. We went to Spicy Moment, a Western-style hip Hunan place that is in a beautiful side street that feels a bit like the West Village. An amazing city, getting pricier by the minute.