Prof. Lin Zhou Takes Helm

Whether it’s tapping into opportunities created in the advent of the “Asian Century” or maintaining its unique status as one of the leading business schools in the world’s gateway to China, the key to expanding on The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Business School’s success is to continue to “look forward” and respond to rapid change, said the school’s new Dean.

In taking up Deanship on 9 December 2019, Prof. Lin Zhou confidently stated his vision for the school. “I want CUHK Business School to be one of the leading business schools not only in Asia, but for the entire world.”

This goal is entirely within reach, according to Prof. Zhou, pointing out that the 21st century, being dubbed the Asian Century for the region’s expected resurgence in economics, politics as well as culture, will translate into huge opportunities not only for its people but also for business schools. Rapid growth entails rapid change, and as a leading business school, CUHK Business School is well positioned to help different segments of society – from students to businesses – to navigate it.

 

“We empower young people so they can seize opportunities and benefit from the tremendous growth that will take place,” he said, adding that being in the midst of the great Asian transformation – after spending more than twenty years in the United States at both prestigious institutions such as Princeton University, Yale University, Duke University and a dynamic public university Arizona State University – was what brought him back to the region in the first place.

Another advantage that makes CUHK Business School stand out from the pack is the university’s Chinese roots. The traditional Chinese culture has not only buttressed the longest living civilisation, it also has impacted many other Asian societies. Hence, CUHK is able to offer a comprehensive Asian perspective to businesses elsewhere that are eager to look to Asia to replicate business practices and processes that have driven the region’s blistering economic growth.

Change will also come to CUHK Business School. “Like any business school, we need to be working with our stakeholders because things are changing rapidly so we need to change as well,” Prof. Zhou added, noting that the school must stay ahead of the curve in the knowledge and content delivered.

“I want CUHK Business School to be one of the leading business schools not only in Asia, but for the entire world.” — Prof. Lin Zhou

The continued advance of technology also means the school must endeavour to push the envelope in how content is delivered, he said. The School must expand digital learning and experiential learning, figuring out how they could best be adapted to CUHK Business School’s existing curricular to help students learn more efficiently and effectively.

While on the programme level the school has been highly successful in maintaining strong ties with stakeholders such as its alumni and corporate partners, Prof. Zhou intends to increase outreach of the School as a whole to seek support and guidance from all sectors of society.

This extends to outreach of other CUHK faculties as well. “Business now is more complicated. It’s impacted by forces ranging from politics to social movements and technology,” he said, adding that this meant that CUHK Business School should seek to build its cross-faculty ties – such as in engineering and the social sciences – in order to provide the most comprehensive education to students so they are equipped to address this increasingly complex business world.

Prof. Zhou also said he was highly excited by the opportunities posed by the establishment of CUHK-Shenzhen in 2014, and will seek to forge a closer relationship with colleagues there. “We are going to try to see if we can provide joint teaching programmes in addition to the joint research institutes we already have in place,” he said.

It also follows that the school should continue to develop closer ties with the business sector, not only to enhance the quality of education provided to students, to help them seek out lucrative job opportunities, but to stay glued to the latest changes in business practices that are relevant to management thought leadership.

“Talking to business partners will help us enhance the level of our research both in its rigor and its relevance,” Prof. Zhou said.

On the concept of balance, said Prof. Zhou, who spent the bulk of his early career teaching and in research, focusing on fundamental topics in economic theory including game theory, mechanism design as well as social choice and welfare, this applies equally to the divide between education and research.

“The primary responsibility of a university is to provide quality education to young people. Teaching is and always will be of the utmost importance, but on the other hand, to be a leading university you have to have research capabilities so you can provide students with the most advanced knowledge in different fields.”

“Research is a very important area for a university which aspires to be the very best university in the world, so we must keep a proper balance. With the university well-endowed in both financial and human resources, I am confident we can do both.”

“We empower young people so they can seize opportunities and benefit from the tremendous growth that will take place.” — Prof. Lin Zhou

Following on the heels of this two-term stint as the Dean of Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he transformed the school from a domestic name into a global player in business education, Prof. Zhou also said he’s interested in applying the skills and network acquired in his previous job and while sitting on the board of various accreditation boards to help raise the awareness of CUHK Business School on a global level.

Strategic planning will be a crucial task for Prof. Zhou, who added he is excited for the opportunity to liaise with the stakeholders to revise the school’s vision and mission for the next five year strategic plan starting in 2021. “Dean Kalok Chan and his team did a great job raising the academic research capability and reputation of the School, we will leverage on that and move the School forward in many directions.”

In face of the unprecedented challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Prof. Zhou said the school seeks to bring its considerable knowledge and skillsets to help society. He believes that with a forward-looking attitude, CUHK members will navigate this historic moment to emerge as a more resilient community. Besides the smooth resumption of classes, he will be busy in the coming year reaching out to students, faculty members and corporate partners to seek views on the way forward for the school.