Chao Zeng
Home Region

Shanghai, China

Undergrad Education

Fudan University, Accounting, 2007

Previous Experience

General Motors China Group; Deloitte Consulting

HBS Activities

Section Leadership & Value Representative, Harvard Asia Business Conference Co-Chair, General Management and Operations Club Board Member, TechMedia Club, VCPE Club

“Every time I learn a case, I become a different person with multiple responses to complex situations.”

What’s the one thing you’re most excited about learning at HBS?

As the Leadership & Values representative for my section, I have many opportunities not just to participate in activities, but to organize and lead classroom discussions and small-group coffee chats about important cultural issues. I’ve led discussions about LGBT and diversity, about how to help HBS students with families get more engaged in HBS activities. Because I’m from outside the U.S., I can bring a new perspective, a global perspective.

How do your HBS ambitions fit into the big picture of the world beyond?

My goal is to become a general manager for a global business; all the learning at HBS is linked to that goal in three ways. First, the case method allows us to learn from real people and actual practices – I like to pretend I’m the protagonist and see the issues from that point of view. Every time I learn a case, I become a different person with multiple responses to complex situations.

Second, it’s the interaction with people – as section representative, as a class member, or as a member of a FIELD team. By working with people from diverse backgrounds, I not only learn a lot, but I develop new communications skills.

Finally, HBS is a platform for being more global, not only through classes, but in after-class activities like the Asia Business Conference or going to Brazil in FIELD to do a consulting project. By doing business in, and attending activities about, different cultures, I’m developing a much more well-rounded perspective.

How are you pushing yourself?

We have something called FOMO: fear of missing out. You want to get involved in everything, so you’re always afraid that by doing one thing you’re missing something else. To find balance, I’ve created a tool called “Six-Color Timetable” that tracks my daily activities, using different colors for the activity types: blue for academic work, green for social events, red for self-reflection (thinking or reading), yellow for gym or sports, orange for routine stuff (like shopping or house cleaning), and purple for entertainment. This way, I can see the whole picture – what I’ve done too much of, what I’ve neglected. My point of view is that I may not get 100% of everything, but maybe I can achieve at least 80% (the 80/20 rule applies here) of these things in balance.

What might people find surprising about you?

In my spare time, I help grad students with career development. As a career coach I’ve worked with over one thousand people so far.