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Jinyu's multicultural journey: From China to Grenoble to... Texas!




Jinyu Mao graduated from GEM in 2011. She is currently working as Personal System Customer Experience & Portfolio Strategy at HP in Houston, Texas.

Jinyu’s dream was to explore France, her schoolmates convinced her to join GEM. While studying, she enjoyed the hands-on experience, diversity, and case studies.
Searching for an internship lead her to her first CDI at HP. From her French experience, she fondly recalls the French lifestyle, French humor and sense of friendship.
Her advice to young Chinese students arriving in Grenoble: learn French, read case studies before going to class and enjoy the mountains!

Isabelle:  Where did you hear about GEM for the first time?

Jinyu: I heard about GEM from my University Senior year exchange program. I studied at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. We had exchange programs with a few French universities for 6 months. At that time, I was selected to join a private Business School in Lyon (IDRAC); but some of my other schoolmates went to GEM. I learned about GEM from my schoolmates at that time.

Was it always a long-term goal of yours to study in France?

Jinyu: Yes. I was a cultural exchange student when I was in Senior High School. My school collaborated with the Chinese Education Bureau for us to have the opportunity to participate in the AFS (American Field Service) program for one year. I was selected and lived with a host family for one year in Brussels, Belgium where I learned French and went to a local school for that year. I found the experience to be quite eye opening and I learned a lot about western culture that I really liked. However, I hadn’t had a real chance to explore France while speaking French; therefore, going back to Europe had always been my dream.

What is your favorite memory as a student in the classroom?

Jinyu: Diversity – I really like the diversity of the class; it was the right mix of each class. We are not only studying the academic curriculum, most importantly we learn from each other’s culture, way of thinking, and sometimes the case studies are very much tied into one specific country, so having diversity in the class helped us learn about the background of the case.
Teachers - All the teachers are very good; they are all very strong in academics; but also given their professional experiences; their classes are very much connected to real business situations.
Hands-on experience was valuable – I couldn’t remember which class maybe was the Value Chain or Strategy class, where at the end of the curriculum, we had a simulation tool to play with the innovation investment vs. return. That was very fun and putting us into a real company’s background was very useful.
Case studies – I love case studies, I learned a lot from the live business cases; so that we could apply our learnings into business. However, it was a bit hard because the MIB program students did not necessarily have previous professional experience. If I look back now while doing some MBA classes, I can relate to more than 10 years ago when I was studying my MIB.

What is your favorite memory as a Chinese person in France? 

Jinyu: French Lifestyle - I love French Lifestyle. Growing up in a big city like Shanghai; it’s always crowded by people, noise, rush and fast pace to be successful. Living in Grenoble being so close to the mountains particularly helped me to learn how to enjoy life in a grateful way; enjoy nature and let it inspire us to cherish people around us, and enjoy food thanks to the respect of environment protection.
I love French humor a lot. People complain a lot when speaking; but actually, they are very passionate about life; everything they complain about has a good reason behind it.
Friendship - French people might not be the easiest to become friends with, but once they are your friends, they are sincerely your friends. Very warm and inviting for home dinner and events; open to share their thoughts; you could argue with each other openly to share your own values and points of view. This is something I really miss today living in the US.

How did you manage to land your first job?

Jinyu: I just applied online to a couple of top companies’ websites. Sometimes if they have the email address of the Hiring Manager, I will write to them directly.
Thanks to my internship opportunity at HP; they hired me before my internship ended. Therefore, I didn’t really have to look for a CDI job outside.

Do you have any examples of how your experience at GEM and/or being a #GEMAlumni has helped you?

Jinyu: I don’t actually; and I am not a very social person, might also be my bad not engaging too closely with the organization. Would love to if time and location permits.

What would be your advice to a young Chinese student arriving at GEM?

Jinyu: Aloha – I don’t know if this still exit. (Well it does !) They helped a lot with student on-boarding, housing, opening a bank, and stuff for orientation. This is really good for future students to engage with Aloha as early as possible; so they are prepared before arriving at GEM.
Networking – get to know your classmates. Sharing about each other’s backgrounds, objectives, and expectations from the program will help them to find the matching “friends” out of so many.
Learn French – It’s crucial to be able to speak French to get a job in France. The ability to learn French in 1 year is very limited, it would be a good idea for them to learn French before coming.
I lived with a French landlord in Grenoble, rented a room from his apartment. I feel that’s a good way to not only save on rent money, but also be close to a real French person and learn from their real life. Instead of living with friends; especially living with a group of Chinese; they should try to have some experiences with local French or students from other countries.
Read case studies before going to classes. This is the only way you can get the most out of learning at classes.
Enjoy the mountains hiking, skiing…



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