Group Photo with Professor after Class
In the late autumn of 2015, the BiMBA classroom provided a warm respite from Beijing’s harsh weather for the program’s latest cohort. This warmth came from not only the excitement of receiving new knowledge, but from the closely-knit teaching and learning community within BiMBA’s Langrun garden.
The first course at Peking University’s National School of Development BiMBA Business School was Business Statistics. This course, challenging as its name suggests, acted as a catalysts that sparked the transformation of the students’ way of approaching data. Students were blown away by the inspiring learning experience provided by what they thought would have been a dry course.
The professor that worked such magic was Sean Chen from Fordham University in the USA. Since the inception of BiMBA’s MBA program in 1998, it has invited top Business Statistics professors from Fordham, which was its earliest partner school. Whilst BiMBA’s current business school partner is Valerick Business School in Europe, top professors from Fordham and the ACBSP remain an integral part of BiMBA’s teaching team.
Professor. Chen received his bachelor’s degree at Tsinghua University, followed by a PhD at Harvard University. His main research interests lie in financial derivatives, stochastic process modelling and statistical simulation. A good teacher must not only have strong academic skills but also teaching skills. We can catch a glimpse of Sean Chen’s lecturing skills in action from three rather interesting details.
Sean Chen’s Class
First, many BiMBA students were not quite familiar with who professor Chen was prior to attending his class. Only the most attentive will search for his profile on the school’s website. However, even those who have done extensive research might not have known that professor Chen was regarded as the most popular choice among Fordham’s trail class lecturers for the university’s MBA candidates.
Second, many students have been using social media to voice their concerns about taking the difficult class. But once they listened to the professor speak, business statistics went from being daunting to interesting. Some even thought that they wish they had taken statistics at college. Some other students, who did take statistics courses in college, said that the new learning process was much easier than what they went through before, and what made it more amazing was that professor Chen was teaching in English instead of Chinese! Yet other students said that Sean Chen’s Business Statistics course helped fill many gaps in their statistics knowledge and also changed their mind-set. As Peking University students, developing independent thinking is key and Business Statistics provides perfect training for this critical skill. Very often, when we see data, we feel too comfortable to jump to conclusions before making enough analysis. Professor Chen challenged the student’s to look beyond the surface, and dig deeper the reach the truth. The tool to do that? Statistical analysis.
Third, even before the course has ended, students already developed an inseparable bond with Prof. Chen – a feeling that all MBA classes share. What set the part-time class of 2015 apart was that they not only kept this feeling in hearts, but also turned it into action.
A Surprise Gift for Prof. Sean Chen
Whether it is planning for team building or birthday parties, quick execution is the signature of the part-time class. Under the organization of Duan Nan, Sun Yu, Wang Wei, Zhang Wei, Jiang Zhixuan and other students, the class decided to design a T-shirt and, in their final class, presented Prof. Chen with this surprise gift. During that day’s class break, the students quickly changed into their new t-shirts printed with the words “Mean Lovers PT15” and the phrase “The mean of the means is still the mean”- a phrase often used jokingly by Prof. Chen. A blind-folded Prof. Chen was rendered speechless by this touching display. “This is the best present I have received, both in design and creativity; the design is very simple and putting the “is” in the middle line shows emphasis – the black and white coloring is simple. I like it very much – there is so much I want to say but feel speechless.”
To answer the question of whether the professor taught well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Although the course finished in a flash, it left an indelible mark in the hearts of both students and professor.
In the words of one student: “you opened our minds and we will dazzle your eyes”.