On Oct 18th, at Guanghua School of Management , students gathered for the “Current Topics in Chinese Strategy and Investment” class by Jeffrey Towson. Jeff is an investor, best selling author (USA Today and Inc. Magazine) and Clinical Professor for Investment & Strategy at Guanghua, focused on emerging markets (China, Middle East, Latin America) and their increasing collision with the West.
The class opened with questions on three entities: Carlos Slim, Burj Dubai, China Mobile- three emerging market entities that are (or have been, but still close to) #1’s in the world. Being in an emerging economy themselves, students quickly catch on to the point – the tremendous growth of these entities and their economies.
We dove into the featured case of the class, the Shanghai Disney project. The class was divided into groups and took on roles – Shanghai municipality, local developers and partners, Disney and international partners, and deal makers – investment banks and consultants. Discussion questions ensued on the benefits, motivation, and challenges each faces for the project, and whether they could cooperate.
Jeff led the students in group discussions, and indeed it was discovered that the project benefits all groups through cooperation. As the driver for the project, Shanghai municipality could provide subsidies and special provisions to incentivize each participant, while it benefits from a better city image, international tourism, and social entertainment.
So what if the Shanghai Disney project size is doubled, tripled, or ballooned to Dubailand, an entertainment park project 12 times in size? Would such, not-necessarily-economical projects, crash the Chinese economy in the future, or had such projects already taken place and China is destined to crash like Dubai? Fortunately for the students studying in China, Jeff does not think China is destined to crash, due to internal demand and awareness of its challenges.
Jeff’s insight and investment experience in emerging markets give the course relevance and credibility, and his unique style is engaging and intellectually stimulating. Students are not led to the goal of the lecture, but arrive there themselves through discussion and critical thinking.