2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Andreas Hornfischer, CEIBS

Andreas Hornfischer

CEIBS (China Europe International Business School)       

Age: 47

“German, LEAN advocate, rooted in China, curious about learning to grow myself and others.”

Hometown: Chosen since 2007: Taicang, China, Born: Unterseen, Switzerland

Family Members: My lovely wife Yixiang, sons Hans (13) & Elias (11) and my daughter Lina (4)

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a passionate staircase walker, cyclist, Muay Thai boxer and serious LEGO Player.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Chemnitz/Germany, Mechanical Engineering Diploma (Dipl.-Ing.)

Where are you currently working? General Manager, E.G.O. Components (China) Co., Ltd.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I see myself as a bridge between China and Germany. I especially promote the city of Taicang and was recognised in 2023 as one of the “10 outstanding friends of Taicang/Jiangsu Province”. This award considered the last 30 years of Sino-German relationship in Taicang. For me it is also important to give back to society, so I do volunteer work as Chairman of the Board for the Inclusion Group in Taicang. The Inclusion Group is a social enterprise dedicated to the employment of people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 2014 in Taicang, Jiangsu Province, it is one of China’s leading employment solutions providers for people with intellectual disabilities.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of how I was able to apply the learnings from the leadership modules to create new leadership trainings for my company team. It showed me that I can take what I’ve learned beyond my own personal development and share it to the benefit of my team, my company and the wider industry.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my professional career, I am most proud of being able to grow my current company by more than double. I’ve presided over its growth in turnover but also its formal recognition as one of the Best Workplaces in Greater China. In 2022, E.G.O. Components (China) Co., Ltd. was honoured as the most socially responsible employer in Greater Suzhou for its social commitment and positive impact on society. At the end of 2022, it was even recognised at the national level for being one of the “Best Workplaces in Greater China”. Also, our annual summer camp makes our employees and I very proud and we are happy to organise it again this year after the pandemic restrictions were lifted. We previously received the “More than a Market” award from the Bertelsmann Stiftung for organising an annual summer camp for the children of its migrant workers, enabling the families to spend more time together. The More than a Market Initiative was kicked-off by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, shining light on the social engagement of German companies operating in China.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? At CEIBS, all the professors are excellent so it’s not easy to name just one. If I must, it would have to be Professor Katherine Xin. She taught the opening leadership modules very well and I learned a lot about myself and the nature of my leadership style. She started our EMBA journey with the opening residency module: leadership stream, continued it halfway through with the mid-term leadership module, and finished the journey by leading our exit module: High Performance Leadership. Throughout every module, she exposed us to invaluable new insights and helped us to think about leadership in wholly different and innovative ways.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? CEIBS is one of the world’s top-ranked business schools, so it was an obvious choice. China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) was co-founded by the Chinese government and European Union (EU) and balances China Depth and Global Breadth for high-achieving business leaders. Luckily, I am also based in Shanghai, making it a convenient choice as well as an aspirational one.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lessons I learned happened during the leadership modules. It covered the nature of leadership and how to gain a much deeper understanding of my own leadership style, along with its inherent strengths and shortcomings. It had such an impact on me that I first organised similar trainings for my team in the company, and then later trained myself to be able to deliver said leadership training courses to my team. This led to plenty of intense, invaluable learning experiences for both myself and my team members. I believe that you learn even more when you approach a subject from both sides – as student and teacher.

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 always easy to do the homework for the modules. I was very happy to get the support from my family members. To my surprise, my experience also helped my children in their homework efforts. They could see and understand that their daddy was working hard on his homework, so they found it inspiring and were eager to follow this good example. The previous strategy we used to help push the kids to do their homework has changed to this: “Let’s work hard and do the homework at the same time as daddy.”

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice is to just do it, and then immediately apply what you have learned during the programme. The positive impact you make on yourself and your environment will be very apparent. This applies to both your personal and professional life. It’s essential to take what you have learned and actively practise it. Otherwise, it’s like buying a tool and then just leaving it on the shelf, rather than picking it up and putting it to good use.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret was missing out on the global part of our studies, since the overseas modules were impossible to deliver due to COVID restrictions. Now that the COVID restrictions have been lifted, CEIBS has a plan in place to allow us to catch up on our overseas modules even after graduation. Fortunately, this regret will become a future highlight that I’m greatly looking forward to experiencing.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most is Shuwei Wang. In the opening module, he demonstrated that he had already thought about how best to utilise his facility for future leadership trainings. Alongside other venues, he also overlooks the Shanghai F1 International Circuit. During the programme and despite the difficulties due to the pandemic, he managed (together with the CEIBS professors) to set up a leadership training course on the F1 racetrack in Shanghai. He also visited my company and my team to attend our SMED activity (SMED: “Single Minute Exchange of Die” — a lean approach that minimises changeover or setup times in a process, such that it can be accomplished in less than 10 minutes). His visit and participation in the SMED activity was a great motivator for me and my team, and it helped us make great progress.

Thanks to his welcome support, we were even able to carry out a leadership training course on the Shanghai F1 racetrack for my team. We changed the tires of a F1 car (a real thrill and lifelong dream for many of my engineering colleagues!) and learned more about SMED but also how manage paradoxes as a leader.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The CEIBS part-time Global Executive MBA enabled me to continue doing my full-time job. Online was not a viable option for me personally, as I firmly believe that face-to-face interactions are very important for the learning and understanding process. This kind of interaction with my professors and classmates was the backbone of the Global EMBA experience.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’m on a learning journey, and so are all my team members. I want to carry on guiding them as well as myself along this path. I aim to keep searching for the best opportunities to develop my own leadership and subsequently find ways to share what I’ve learned with those around me. Moreover, I want to continue to be a bridge between Germany and China, like CEIBS is a bridge between Europe and China.

What made Andreas such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“It was an easy choice to nominate Andreas for this year’s Best & Brightest, as he exhibits a constant drive to excel. Even among his outstanding group of classmates, Andreas is an exemplary student when it comes to taking the practical uses of any given learning experience to the next level. His initiative in bringing the leadership module learnings back to his company and replicating his personal success there is indicative of his dedication to making everything he learns practical, applicable and shareable. While he strives for efficiency and tangible gains in his work, it’s clear that he also cares deeply about the personal development of his team and the wider contribution to society they make together. This is what responsible leadership is all about, and Andreas has clearly taken this lesson to heart. He continues to be an impactive figure in his chosen home of Taicang, aiding the local business community while helping his company on its ESG journey.”

Professor Bala Ramasamy
Professor of Economics, Associate Dean; Director of GEMBA Programme


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