2019 Best EMBAs: Jiaqi Nie, Cambridge Judge

Jiaqi Nie

Cambridge Judge Business School

“Dedicated, passionate finance executive with global experience in Canada, China, US, and UK.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Family Members: Wife and me

Fun fact about yourself: Photographer of the class

Undergraduate School and Degree: Northeastern University (China), BA. Western University (Canada), visiting scholar. Northwestern University (US), MA

Where are you currently working? GIC is an investment bank and we have offices in Toronto, Vancouver, and San Francisco. (We will open a new office in Shanghai this summer after my graduation)

I am the Chief Operating Office Global, and the President Greater China

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Dean’s scholarship of Cambridge 2017 EMBA (only one of the 84 students in the cohort)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of the Cambridge TCP group consulting experience in China. I have successfully helped Ericsson to develop a new strategy in China in the new ear of 5G, and also helped our group members to understand the business environment and culture in Beijing, China.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I used to be the CEO of Baosteel (Now Baowu, the second largest steel company in the world with over $100 billion revenue and 240,000 employees) Canada. I was responsible for the investment and sales business in the American region (2 offices in Canada, 4 offices in US, one office in Mexico and another one in Brazil). I led the team to conduct the $10 billion M&A with a major European steel company in US, and attend the negotiation with the Department of Commerce and US steel association in Washington DC.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Christoph Loch. He is the dean of Cambridge Judge business school. He has a great vision of CJBS and always looking into the future. He invited me for lunch to discuss our strategy in China and I learned a lot about how to manage board members in my company and how to lead a top business school going forward.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Corporate governance. This is definitely what I need as a global COO who manages bankers and consultants all over the world. It gives me many insights about how to communicate the board member from India, China, US, and Canada, and how to manage the CEOs in a different business unit.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I was also accepted by a M7 business school with the longest history of EMBA education. As a global executive manager international business, I would like to get out of my comfort zone in North America and know more about the business culture and expand my network to Europe.

I have been working and studying in the US and Canada for more than 15 years. Cambridge is a great choice to experience business education in the UK and expand my global network.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? As a Cambridge judge EMBA, I am not only belonging to the business school, I am also a member of the Emmanuel College and the University of Cambridge. I still remember the day of my matriculation and the international study week in San Francisco.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Self-awareness is very important for executives. Cambridge EMBA helped me to know who I am, and what I don’t know.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? It was not an easy task, as I need to fly from Canada or China to Cambridge at least once a month, and sometimes twice a month. I still remember in the winter of 2017 after the Christmas dinner at Kings College. There is heavy snow in the UK. All the train and flights were canceled. When I feel desperate in the snow, I got six calls from my classmates who want to offer me a place to stay. It was a wonderful memory.

In the second year of school, we have so many individual assignment and essays to complete. Meanwhile, I got a new COO job in an investment bank. I wake up every morning at 4 a.m. and drive to my office at 5 a.m. to get in a few hours to complete my Cambridge work before the job starts. My wife sacrificed a lot to support my study and work in such a high-pressure environment.  A nice breakfast at 4 a.m. prepared by my wife in the morning means a lot to me.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Spend more time thinking about what you need and why you want to select this program. Instead of looking at rankings and reports, talk to more alumni and spend a few days in the campus before you decide.

You also need to discuss with your family and your boss. It is difficult to jump into the journey without their understanding and support.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I saw so many smart people. The first-day professor asked me to remember all 84 names in the class, but I can only remember 10-20 names in the first 15 minutes. I was surprised we have classmates who can remember all 84. From day one, I realized I have so much to learn from my classmates.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not be able to so the EMBA in full time. Cambridge is a wonderful place with so many innovation events, entrepreneurship activities, and public speeches every day. I missed so many opportunities.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Paul. He is the global head of the NYSE with an extremely busy schedule. He can go to any top US business school, but he chose Cambridge and flies from NYC every month. He is a very smart and senior executive but is always humble and welcoming. He spends most of his spare time funding an NGO and flying to Africa to help poor children go to school. He also invited me to the NYSE to attend the opening bell last fall.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…four of the five top executive search companies in the world tell me the leader of the future should be more global.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To help our company to grow from a boutique investment firm to a global firm.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?  An honest and humble friend that you can trust to do business with or just hang out in China and Canada.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

See the Northern Lights

Take an African Safari

What made Jiaqi such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“Jiaqi is a committed, ambitious student with a real drive to jump on every opportunity that comes his way. Jiaqi is a natural connector and contributor, providing his fellow participants with opportunities to deepen their understanding of markets and governance in China by sharing his first-hand experiences. He’s a great example of how valuable members of a cohort are to each other and how they can truly enhance each other’s learning.

He was also a brilliant ambassador for the programme, contributing to blogs and articles on his experiences and sharing photos.

Jiaqi made the most of every aspect of his Cambridge experience, and we’re all richer for it. He was an asset to his cohort, and I have no doubt he will continue to lead an impactful and successful career.”

Khal Soufani

Director of Executive MBA Programme


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