Learning American management in Shanghai

For Kevin Xu, EMBA ’14 (Shangai), the pursuit of quality education and continual self-improvement has led to a successful ­academic and professional career. When he enrolled in the Washington University–Fudan University Executive MBA program in 2012, Xu was already the president and CEO of RUIchem Group, a unit of one of the ­largest organic chemical companies based in China. When he founded RUIchem in 1999, it was a two-person operation. By 2012, Xu had grown it to a 400-employee enterprise, and he was eager to grow the company even further by developing his management skills in the EMBA program.

Before becoming a successful CEO, Xu attended Zhejiang University of Technology in China, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1996. Three years later, he founded his company and committed to a constant course of study. He hoped continual study would help him gain the skills he needed to expand RUIchem. Over the years, Xu enrolled in five job-training programs from three different universities. Though enriched by his experiences in these programs with Chinese professors, Xu sought to learn a management style that would allow him to create an ideal organizational structure for RUIchem. He believed that this method of management would be taught best by Western professors.

“I wanted to study the original management method, and Olin’s EMBA program ranks No. 1 in China.”

Kevin Xu, EMBA ’14

“I wanted to study the original management method, and Olin’s EMBA program ranks No. 1 in China,” Xu says. 

At Olin, Xu received the insight and skills he had hoped for, and he emerged as a leader in his class, serving as president of the Executive MBA Shanghai Class 12. For Xu, the experiences at Fudan University shaped his perceptions and knowledge as a businessman and innovator.

The program’s emphasis on strategic management has proved helpful in running RUIchem. Xu explains that this management style is still helping him meet daily challenges. “Now, IBM Business ­Consulting is helping us improve employee productivity. Because of my EMBA knowledge, I understand very well what they are doing. Moreover, I can join in and discuss management innovations together with them.”

Since graduating, Xu’s achievements have continued to accrue. RUIchem has become the leading provider of titanium dioxide in China with products that are exported to more than 50 countries or regions around the world.

Xu is looking ­forward to helping Washington University closer to home. With help from his 2014 EMBA graduating class, Xu is working to create the first Washington University and Olin Executive MBA alumni center in China.

But he’s already begun making major contributions to the university. In December 2014, Xu celebrated the opening of the Dean’s Suite named in his honor in Bauer Hall on the Danforth ­Campus. The naming ceremony included performances by campus groups and speeches by Mahendra Gupta, PhD, dean of the Olin School of Business, and
Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton who thanked Xu for his generous contribution and recognized his achievements as an alumnus, businessman and Olin supporter.

Xu hopes that his named suite will have a constructive impact on Olin students and ­faculty. By creating a comfortable environment for students and professors, he hopes to enhance the academic experience at the business school and to motivate students to pursue their goals: “I hope that they have a dream and always walk on the dream’s path,” he says.

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