Build your awareness around sustainability in the CBS MBA

Having already spent time in two vastly different cultures in China and the USA, Ning Li experienced yet another culture change after moving to Denmark to study at Copenhagen Business School. Here’s her MBA story.

In short

Can you tell us a little bit about your story?

I finished all of my education – a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Ph.D. in Computational Biology – back in China. Then I moved to the US to pursue my postdoctoral training before moving on to a more formal job in biomedical research. I spent nine years in the US, mostly in the Boston area.

Right before I moved to my MBA program in Denmark, I worked at Novartis in R&D for three years. That’s where I started thinking about taking an MBA. One year ago, I moved to Copenhagen for my program and I just finished one year back in August. It has been a very exciting year and also a very challenging year, I have to say!

What were your main reasons for studying at Copenhagen Business School?

The small class size is one of the reasons. Sustainability, too; although I’m not working in that field, I think everyone should have some awareness about sustainability no matter where they work.

How did COVID-19 affect your studies?

I think corona definitely had a very big impact on us. Fortunately, we had finished all of the main courses by the time of lockdown, so we only had to take electives online and we had to conduct our final project with our teams online. We gradually adapted to the situation. Overall I think it was challenging but also a good way for us to adapt to the challenging environment.

What were the biggest learning moments for you during the MBA?

Before I went on the program I was focused on the leadership focus program and also became very interested in sustainability. [CBS] has a very strong academic background in sustainability, so I was just curious to understand what’s happening in Denmark, what’s the current status…going through those was a good learning experience.

The leadership discovery is just a personal journey across the whole year. So sort of understanding myself, bringing more awareness…it’s not just about leading others, it’s also how to lead ourselves.

How is life in Denmark for international students?

In Denmark, a lot of people speak English and that helps a lot as a foreigner. But there are a lot of cultural differences for sure. I came from China (a different culture), lived in the US (a different culture), and Denmark is also different. I think it takes some time to understand and adapt to the working culture – but it’s not a problem. People are open-minded here. I learned some very interesting things about the work-life balance in Denmark. I experienced how people live in Copenhagen versus Boston or the US, and the different lifestyles.

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