Full speed ahead: Qing Wu, EMBA ’11

Qing Wu, EMBA '11, became CEO of AON-COFCO thanks to skills she learned in the Washington University/Fudan University joint EMBA program. Courtesy photo

Since 1995, Qing “Clare” Wu, EMBA ’ 11, has been working at AON-COFCO Insurance Broker Company, a global professional services firm that offers services related to insurance, health and retirement. By 2010, she’d become the general manager of operations for the Shanghai branch and No. 2 in the company, but she wanted to go back to school to earn an MBA to improve herself and see if she could create more opportunities for herself professionally.

“I really wanted to learn something I could then bring to my job,” she says. “I took a very practical approach.”

The Washington University/Fudan University joint executive MBA program was teaching the practical skills she needed. During her studies, Wu was impressed by the strategic management and leadership courses that taught her how to build and lead her company and gave her real-world tools she could rapidly apply.

“The important thing to me was learning how to use your influence to help people do the right thing and work as a team, even when you aren’t acting as an ‘official’ leader or boss,” she says.

Not long after graduating in 2011, Wu’s boss asked her if she wanted to be CEO of AON. “Because I learned so much from the business school, I felt ready to take on the new role,” Wu says.

Wu wasn’t the only one to get a promotion after graduation. She estimates that more than two-thirds of her classmates have changed jobs, and that one-third of them took up running.

Halfway through her EMBA program, Wu took up running to relieve stress, which inspired her classmates (including Jo Feng), and led to W running marathons.

“Running marathons really changes you,” Wu says. “It physically changes your body, and it changes your spirit.”

Now, Wu has competed in more than 40 marathons all over the world including running the Boston Marathon three times. In a year, Wu runs more than 2,500 kilometers. She even started a running club with co-workers that now has more than 60 participants.

Thanks to her running, Wu is not just healthier but also better able to handle her top spot in the company. “Running is a great way to relieve the pressure,” she says. “If you’re stressed, get out and run. It’ll help make you feel balanced.”