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13.12.2022 | School of Business

«Being a professional mixologist and MBA student has more in common than meets the eye.»

Zengquan Jayson Wang is currently pursuing the Swiss-Asian MBA programme at FHNW. In earlier years, Jayson worked as a world-class bartender. He sees striking similarities with the seemingly different management discipline: Professionalism, teamwork, and the drive to provide outstanding service.

Like many of his peers, Jayson has an international and diverse background. Having grown up on the family farm in Heilongjiang Province of North-Eastern China, Jayson relocated to major cities like Harbin, Beijing, Xiamen and Hong Kong for training and work. He now lives in the Swiss Canton of Aargau with his wife and two children.

FHNW: Early in life, you chose to leave your rural homeland to live in major metropolises. What were your aspirations at the time?

Jayson Wang: Growing up on the family farm, I have always dreamt of living in a buzzing city and my father has inspired me to seek opportunity there. Being a curious person, it did not take long before I ventured to Harbin for training and work in mixology. This was my springboard to move to even bigger and more international cities like Beijing, Xiamen and Hong Kong. It was really important for me to follow my dream and dive into city life. While living in Hong Kong, my wife and I went on holidays in Switzerland and the rural landscapes of Switzerland reminded me of my childhood on the family farm. With my wife, who grew up in Hong Kong with her Swiss parents, I started to reflect on where we wanted our kids to grew up and we quickly concluded that it should be close to nature. We have been living in the Canton of Aargau since 2019 and feel very much at home.

Jayson Wang.jpg

Did the global community of your peers in the Swiss-Asian MBA programme help you feel at home in Switzerland while at the same time maintaining links to Asia?

Absolutely, I feel that I am fully integrated in Switzerland now. Coming from Hong Kong, I didn’t know anybody here at first. However, I quickly made friends with my local peers in the programme. At the same time, I feel very close to China and Hong Kong. Given some of my peers have similar backgrounds, some of them even living in Switzerland and neighbouring countries, I can speak my mother tongue regularly and keep my heritage alive.

Students in the Swiss-Asian MBA programme participate in four residential weeks (one in Switzerland and three in countries across Asia) and as such, you have recently been to Malaysia. How did you experience the study trip and what were your lessons learned?

It was an enjoyable study trip. First, I was very excited to be back to Asia after not being able to visit for almost three years due to the pandemic. I have been on holidays in Malaysia before, but never on business. Having visited numerous companies on this trip, I was impressed with Malaysia’s inclusive multiculturism, how well diverse cultures work together. I think international corporations with employees from many different backgrounds can learn from that. Second, I was reminded of how important food is in the Asian culture. When people meet for business, they often talk about food first and then actually enjoy a pleasant meal together. This is such a great way to combine business with pleasure and build relationships.

You have a wealth of experience in different fields including mixology and as an MBA student you see striking similarities with the management discipline. Can you elaborate on this?

Imagine a busy bar, many customers wish to order at the same time, the queue is getting longer and longer. The pressure is on for the team behind the bar, every second counts. Everyone needs to work in sync, processes need to run smoothly. These are moments when the team must deal with pressure and remain professional and friendly at the same time to provide excellent service. To me, this sounds exactly like a typical day in management. And on the matter of resources, a lot is also down to improvisation, be it at the bar or in management: We check for available resources (ingredients in case of mixology) and try to make the best out of them.

On the 27th of January at the farewell celebration of Residential Week Switzerland 2023 of the Swiss-Asian MBA programme, you will mix non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks for your peers. What can they look forward to?

For as long as I can remember, tradition has always been important to me. At the same time, I have always been keen on experimentation, learning by doing, trying out something new. And this is also true for my drinks. My peers can look forward to classic cocktails, tasting the oldest recipes and what none other than James Bond likes to drink. But I also like to play around with traditional recipes and give them an experimental twist.

You are about half-way through your MBA journey now. How has the Swiss-Asian MBA helped you so far and how do you think will it shape your professional future?

Apart from meeting great peers and making friends, it has provided insights into international management. For example, this includes topics like cross-cultural management, leadership and digital transformation. Regular interactions with lecturers in different disciplines have opened my eyes for key aspects of management and allowed me to develop a management mindset. As for the future, I believe that the programme will enable me to address challenges with the skills we acquire in the programme. This may not only come handy as a future manager, but also as an entrepreneur. In fact, I have developed a few concepts for my own startup since joining the programme.

Which characteristics best describe the Swiss-Asian MBA programme for you?

The programme is very international in terms of students and lecturers, flexible due to a large portion of online learning, makes use of state-of-the-art teaching approaches and nurtures close and regular exchange among peers and lecturers.

In terms of career development, whom would you recommend the programme to and why?

The programme is suitable for people who want to develop themselves and take the next step in their careers but need a flexible setup. No matter where they live and work, they can pursue the Swiss-Asian MBA programme because most lecturers are conducted virtually. At the same time, they will have close interactions with their peers and lectures from around the world, especially Europe and Asia. The online learning experience is complemented by four residential weeks where everybody gets together, builds an international network and explores how business is done.

Swiss-Asian MBA FHNW

Do you wish to join Jayson and his peers on this exciting journey and get ready for a bright future? Find out more about the Swiss-Asian MBA programme here.

Swiss-Asian MBA