Stephenie Lee: Doing Better and HowTsinghua Plays A Role in That
清华大学经济管理学院 2021-06-09 浏览量: 3924 [简/繁]
Hi, everyone. I’m Stephenie, and I’m a member of Tsinghua SEMpart-time MBA program. I’m really excited to be here today to share with everyone how I ended up here at Tsinghua. My story is really one of wanting to do good and do well, and thinking about how Tsinghua plays a role in that. As a brief overview, I’m currently the founder of a company called Beacon Learning. It's actually my second startup. Prior to that, I've been in education for over ten years.
I started off my career in theUSat an organization called Axiom Learning, came to China to join the booming education technology sector by joining a company called VIPKID, and then founded my first startup just as I was about to embark on my Tsinghua adventure.
Break Through Your Plateau
When I came to China, there was a lot that I learned experientially. I joined a growing company, I had great mentors, and I had a wonderful opportunity and platform to learn from the consumers themselves by virtue of what they chose to purchase, by virtue of their decision-making.
But I really lacked something that Tsinghua was able to give me: a systemic way to look at different parts of the Chinese population, how people as parents think about education, and also how people think about their own education.
So that's where Tsinghua comes in for me. Tsinghua gave me an important opportunity to think about why we educate ourselves, what is our end goal that we are all striving towards, and how do we backwards plan from that? For me, throughout my years of working in education, I was able to discern three key points that I think education needs to achieve in order for all of us to fulfill our potential.
The first is our ability to create meaningful relationships, our ability to connect with people deeply and our ability to inspire and move others into action with you. The second is the ability to think interdisciplinary and interculturally so that we can be creative in ways that are different from how other people are thinking currently so that we are able to add value on top of what already exists. The third key factor for education is thinking about execution: how can we strategically and systematically execute great ideas as we come upon them?
Throughout my career, I was someone who tried to create structure for myself. I was someone who wanted to answer my own questions to the known unknowns. For example, I know maybe I’m not as strong at marketing, so how do I get that kind of knowledge? Or I know perhaps in neuroscience there's still plenty of room for me to learn about the cutting edge research, so I can go and pursue ways to acquire that knowlege. But what about the unknown unknowns? A systemic education is where that really comes in.
Throughout my career leading up to my decision to do an MBA, I really was piecing together my own curriculum. An MBA is a great way to synthesize, a way to reflect, a way to integrate the perspectives and opinions of other people in order for you to do well better and in order for the good that you're doing to impact even more people.
Tsinghua MBA in Magnifying Impact
Tsinghua is really key in magnifying my impact. And I'll quickly talk about a couple of ways that it does that. It helped me learn about the Chinese population, particularly when things are changing dynamically in the Chinese market right now. Policy and political undertones also play an important role in operating in China. Understanding macro-trends in Chinese policy, and how those trends come to be, are things that you can really learn through your peers.
The second is that as an educator whose experience was primarily focused on products and services, I knew I had to expand beyond that into sales, into marketing, into strategy, into human resources in order for me to execute my product vision better.
Finally, as a startup founder, I knew that I would have to forge really strong meaningful relationships. I wanted to meet people who potentially had thoughts and opinions on education, who are parents themselves, who are product of the education system that I want to find a niche in, and who were willing and open to sharing their experiences in an authentic and candid way with me. Of course, Tsinghua has also provided me with the interdisciplinary knowledge from all these different disciplines in order for me to be able to perform better as a founder.
An Experience That is Better Than You Expect
I want to talk finally a little bit about how Tsinghua exceeded my expectations. First of all, my peers play a more important role in my life than I could have conceived of. Being a founder or being an adult can be really hard. There's a lot of unexpected things that are really tough. From your peers, you do not only get all these new strategies and ways to tackle life, but also get a safe space to be authentically you and figure out what is at the core of the dilemma you are facing. Your peers are a safe place for you to be like “Man, I just don't know am I doing the right thing?” It's also a safe place for you to be like “I've got this new idea. Let's talk about it and let's work out the case.”
As for the classes that we take, the part time program has a few options as far as the schedule. I take classes every other week and it's for a full weekend. In the beginning I thought that it was a lot of time to be spending on classes. But being in classes has truly become precious for me. On a bi-weekly basis, you have the opportunity to reflect on your life and your work through the lens of whatever that professor is guiding you through and with feedback from your peers.
And then there are the perspectives you gain. People from different walks of life, who hold influential positions in completely different types of organizations are sharing their experiences, mental frameworks, and opinions in class. And then, you have time with them outside of class. Your professors are also very available to you and their perspectives are unfettered and unfiltered. Your classmates and professors candidly open up to you as long as you're willing to ask and engage. These perspectives are invaluable, particularly if you're a startup founder. Because sometimes people will give you a little bit of time, but most people will not share in as much depth and as candidly as you need in order to build a product that everyone will love.
Finally, I want to talk about some of the resources I’ve taken advantage of at Tsinghua. Tsinghua x-lab is an organization that I've spent some time with here at Tsinghua. As an incubator, they really have a broad network of resources that you can tap into. I have been able to use and leverage the mentors there, the space there, the other teams there.
All of these components of my MBA experience have exceeded my expectation and contributed to my development in the 3 key things for my own career development: developing and forging meaningful relationships, expanding my own horizons, and then honing my ability to execute ideas to perfection.
Thank you for listening today. If you have any questions, the staff here at Tsinghua are wonderful and friendly, and they'll help you out with all of your questions.