Success story: Mao Jiongni, the brilliant student from China who became a PhD researcher
Focus on the extraordinary career of Mao Jiongni, student from ZUEL Elite class in China who joined the Rennes School of Business MSc in International Marketing … and then joined the prestigious PhD program of Bocconi University!
Dr. Laurent Scaringella, professor at Rennes SB, tells us about Mao’s exceptional career : “In April 2017, I was teaching Strategic Management to the Elite class at ZUEL where I met Mao who was organizing my stay. Based on our discussion, she changed her trajectory of study and decided to join the MSc in International Marketing – as I was the former Program Director – instead of the MSc in Auditing and Accounting. During her MSc IM, she joined the research group I was leading to conduct an excellent Graduating Project. She performed very well and I suggested that she go further and send the academic paper at EURAM. The paper was accepted at EURAM which is exceptional for a Master’s student. Afterwards, I strongly encouraged Mao to apply to top PhD programs. She applied at Bocconi University in Italy and has been accepted in this prestigious PhD program, ended up 2nd in the worldwide ranking which strongly matters as only the top 3 students receive financial aid. Following her acceptance at Bocconi, she presented her paper at EURAM with a lot of confidence and got excellent feedback.”
We asked some questions to Mao who agreed to tell us about her journey…
Why did you choose Rennes School of Business for your studies?
Well, Rennes SB has partnership with my university in China (Zhongnan University of Economics and Law). Students can obtain bachelor’s degree in three years in China and pursue for master’s degree in France in their senior year if they are enrolled in Elite Sino-French Class. I thought it should be a good choice because the program seemed time-saving and there was a range of business tracks to choose from.
What made you decide to change your direction from the MSc in Auditing and Accounting to the MSc International Marketing?
I was enrolled into Elite Class when I was a freshmen with unclear picture of my future career. To some degree I was following the crowds. My peers tend to select finance, accounting and such as the main focus for the master. I also thought having a practical and popular major could make me more competitive in the job market. Therefore, I planned to study MSc in Auditing and Accounting initially to stay in the supposed safe zone.
However, the situation changed when Dr. Laurent Scaringella – Rennes SB professor – came China to teach a two-week-long course about International Strategic Management. Working in groups, I led our team to research on both external and internal situations of a local tea company and suggested a strategic plan. My performance impressed him and he talked with me a lot about my future career. He strongly recommended me to do research and to pursue for a PhD later. Thus, MSc in International Marketing which is a research oriented program is a better choice for me.
It really took a long and struggling time for me to consider his suggestion. But finally I made the big decision to change my major. I realized that compared to following the crowds, it would be better for me to do something that I am interested in and good at as well.
Have exchanges with your teachers at Rennes SB been important to you?
Yes it was very important to me. It’s more like a turning point in my life. Without Laurent Scaringella I might choose a totally different career. I was able to calm down and think carefully about the future. I managed to slow down and avoid making the big decision under an anxious mental state.
Tell us about your overall experience at Rennes SB: what do you remember? What do you like the most?
For me the memory in Rennes and at Rennes SB will stay green in my whole life. I remember the nice schoolmates from school who picked me up at the airport on the day I arrived at Rennes ; I remember the home party I attended at a local classmate’s residence ; I remember different accents of the teachers from different countries when they gave lectures, mainly French accents, though ; I remember the class time with my peers where I made friends of multiple cultural backgrounds.
I like the experience in research group most. Starting from reading papers and writing summaries, I formed my personal research interest in co-creation step by step. Then I considered it as my general topic for graduation project of Master’s degree. In the whole process, I have learnt the way to dig into main points and contributions of a paper. I have also obtained some basic knowledge to design academic questionnaire, conduct data collection and analysis, and run marketing modelling in use of Structural Equation Modeling. I can feel my progress day by day when doing research, and the sense of achievement is beyond all comparison. I really appreciate my supervisor for his research spirits and generous help.
Your research may be published. As a Master’s student, it’s exceptional. How do you feel about this?
Actually it has not been published yet. It was accepted by EURAM conference in March and I presented my paper at the conference in June. There is still quite a lot to do to get it published. For a master student it is really beyond my expectation. I felt very surprised and inspired. I have more confidence than before to do research.
What are your plans for the future?
It seems early to talk about future now. At present I plan to focus on the courses and learn the systematical way to do research. I hope I can be an exceptional researcher with my papers published on top journals as soon as possible of course. And I would like to be a professor like Laurent to bring value to my students in the near future.
Any advice to students specifically chinese students who have recently integrated Rennes School of Business?
Well, just follow your heart and devote your passion.