BOSTON—Jeffrey R. Williams has been named as the inaugural executive director of the Harvard Center Shanghai. A graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Business School and an executive with decades of experience in Greater China as a banker and consultant, Williams will officially assume his duties effective immediately.
The Harvard Center Shanghai, which formally opened on March 18, 2010, in the city's Pudong district, supports a wide range of Harvard activities, primarily via the University-wide Harvard China Fund (HCF) and the Harvard Business School (HBS).
As Executive Director, Williams will be responsible for the Center and its staff in support of those activities, which include student programs, faculty research, case writing, conferences, and executive education programs offered in partnership with Chinese institutions,. He also will build relationships with key academic, business, and government leaders in Greater China. Additionally, he will serve as the Center's chief public representative by providing information about Harvard and about the Center's work to organizations in China and throughout the world.
"With three decades of experience in Asia, strong ties to the University, and an understanding of our research and global activities and goals, Jeff is exceptionally well-prepared for the position of executive director," said William Kirby, chairman of the Harvard China Fund, Chang Professor of China Studies in Harvard University, and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Busines School. "He has the skills to implement collaboration between Harvard and other academic and corporate institutions in Asia. We look forward to the research and developments that will come from the Center under his direction."
"The Harvard Center Shanghai supports HBS's global strategy of being close to practice and emerging trends in management, wherever they occur. This is an important time for such a presence in mainland China, a country which is one of the world's largest and fastest-growing economies," said Krishna G. Palepu, Harvard Business School's Ross Graham Walker Professor of Business Administration and its Senior Associate Dean for International Development. "We see the Harvard Center Shanghai as an important complement to our Asia-Pacific Research Center in Hong Kong, and I am confident Jeff will do an outstanding job in leading the Center's efforts to broaden our collaborations in the region."
"Harvard's engagement with China dates back well over a century and the level of interest in China from our faculty and students has grown enormously in recent years," said Jorge I. DomÃnguez, Harvard's Vice Provost for International Affairs and the Antonio Madero Professor of Mexican and Latin American Politics and Economics. "The Harvard Center Shanghai opens a new and exciting chapter in Harvard's engagement with China and China's connections to Harvard. The Center will be the key locus of support for the University as we continue to build relationships with Chinese colleagues and institutions and as we expand opportunities for all of our faculty and students to pursue their interests there. Jeff's work in Asia and deep connections to Harvard make him an ideal choice to be the Center's inaugural executive director."
"China is important to many faculty and students across Harvard's various Schools," said Williams. "With the country's growing influence in the world, and Harvard as one of the world's most influential academic institutions, the University has determined to engage with China through the Center in support of a wide range of scholarly activities. The Center will also provide a focal point to maintain connections to Harvard alumni in China, many of whom are leaders in their respective fields. It is an honor to be the person to help establish this Center in support of Harvard's expanding work in China."
Williams has spent most of his career in East Asia, most recently as a private consultant in China. Prior to this, he was president of the Shenzhen Development Bank and the first foreigner to lead a Chinese bank since the founding of the PRC. Previously, he worked in Taiwan and Hong Kong for Citibank and as the Taiwan general manager for American Express Company and Standard Chartered Bank. Fluent in Mandarin, Williams was one of the first Americans to teach at Peking University after the resumption of diplomatic relations between China and the United States.
Williams graduated magna cum laude in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard College in 1978 and received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1982. In 2003 and 2009, he was a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. An active alumnus, Williams has formerly been president of the Harvard Club of Hong Kong and president of the Harvard Club of Taiwan, and is currently a director of the Harvard Club of Beijing.
About the Harvard Center Shanghai:
The Harvard Center Shanghai provides facilities to support Harvard University faculty and students pursuing scholarly work in the region, as well as a presentation space to be used for conferences and customized training programs offered in conjunction with Chinese partners. In addition, the Center provides support for a wide range of Harvard activities in China, including student programs, faculty research, case writing, executive education programs offered in partnership with Chinese institutions, and conferences. It aims to support Harvard in expanding those activities in the future.
About Harvard China Fund:
Established in late 2006, the Harvard China Fund is Harvard University's "academic venture fund" for China. In service of the entire University, it supports teaching and research on China and promotes Harvard's presence in China.. The Fund amplifies Harvard's presence in and commitment to China and advances collaborative research on the major challenges facing Greater China, which includes the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. With the establishment of the Fund and the opening of the Harvard Center Shanghai, Harvard University is making an extraordinary commitment to study and collaborate with the most dynamically changing country in the world.
About Harvard University
Harvard University is a private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation (officially The President and Fellows of Harvard College) chartered in the country. Today, Harvard has an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates, including undergraduates and students in 10 graduate and professional schools. Eight U.S. Presidents have graduated from Harvard and its faculty has produced more than 40 Nobel Prize winners.