COVID-19 accelerated changes in industries, societies, and countries worldwide, says Marcel Austin-Martin, senior manager, marketing and admissions at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).
And for EMBA recruiting activities, it turns out the sudden shift offered some good news.
“We were ‘forced’ into increasing the digitalization of our marketing events, in particular introducing webinars,” says Austin-Martin. “This has ultimately been a hugely positive addition to our suite of marketing activities, and we plan to continue to utilize webinars as a core part of our marketing activities even once everything returns to normal.”
The pandemic makes it difficult to determine any clear trends in recruitment and admissions, he says. Some candidates have decided not to apply because of the uncertainty, while others have chosen to study this year because they will travel less and have more time. Some companies also have changed their sponsorship policy as a result of cost-cutting measures.
“Overall, we have observed a tendency for candidates based outside of China to be more cautious about applying, given the restrictions and fears about international travel,” he says. “Domestically, our applicant numbers are up on past years, whereas applicants outside of China have taken a drop.”
With the pandemic more under control, China is seeing a strong economic rebound.
“There is a real feeling of pragmatism domestically and a desire to ‘get on with things’ where possible. Equally, with growth in China now so lopsided with the rest of the world, many companies are pinning their global growth hopes more on China, which does make the program more appealing.”
While CEIBS has resumed in-person events, it moved all its recruiting activities online from February through August 2020. Given the circumstances in the world, CEIBS also adjusted its strategy to take an approach that supports CEIBS’ reputation as a thought leader in the business community, says Austin-Martin.
To that aim, CEIBS took advantage of the school’s best resource for knowledge and academic perspectives—its faculty, who participated in online recruitment events. The school also focused more on the domestic market, based on the challenges with international travel and the enthusiasm in the domestic market, he says.
During this time of change, constant communication and engagement with students and alumni remains essential, says Austin-Martin. Constant vigilance and openness to new directions also helps.
“Preparing to be agile and flexible seems to be the most important at the moment. It is difficult to anticipate exactly what will happen globally, so we are staying on our toes and ensuring that we are monitoring developments, planning accordingly, and remaining fully transparent with our students and candidates.”
CEIBS has positioned itself well to weather current and future challenges, he says.
“As the largest business school in China and one of the early movers in business education here, we are fortunate to have entered COVID from a position of strength and solidity. CEIBS has been through the Asian financial crisis, the dotcom crash, 9/11, and the global financial crisis and always come back stronger.”