Bai Xian Summer Program 2023: Forging Life-long Connections

Topics: Life at Hitotsubashi ICS, Why Hitotsubashi ICS, Student Voice, MBA Program, MBA in Japan

Posted by Yuan Angela Shao on Nov 30, 2023 10:27:57 AM
Yuan Angela Shao
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Angela joined the ICS 2-year MBA program in 2022, bringing with her diverse industry experiences ranging from AI, high tech, life science, and semiconductor sectors. Drawing from her professional tenure mostly in Silicon Valley, she offers valuable insights into human capital practices and organization effectiveness. After earning her master’s degree in human resources management from Michigan State University, she joined Fortune 100 companies, honing hands-on skills and gaining invaluable field experiences.


The Bai Xian Summer Program stands as the hallmark of the Asian Future Leader Scholarship Program (AFLSP), sponsored by the Bai Xian Asian Institute. While the pandemic paused this initiative for three years, on August 4, 2023, with unparalleled excitement and anticipation, we cheered for the official kick-off of the Summer Program 2023 (SP2023).

This year, Bai Xian generously supported 68 scholars and alumni, bringing us together in Waseda, Tokyo. Hailing from various parts of East Asia, we embarked on a transformative 16-day journey sparkled with inspiring moments, cherished memories, and authentic connections. Through a carefully designed series of keynote speeches, immersive workshops, panel discussions, and adventurous excursions, we engaged in introspective self-exploration. We nurtured a progressive mindset to navigate an increasingly VUCA world amidst the complex geopolitical dynamics. Throughout this journey, we not only confronted intricate global dilemmas but also gained deeper insights into our inner selves. Furthermore, with strengthened mutual appreciation and understanding, we reignited a spirit of unity, curiosity, and passion.

Reflecting on the highlights of SP2023, the Nikko excursion and the live orchestra conducting experience truly stand out.

The Historic Charm of Nikko and the Omotenashi Experience

Our path to Nikko included a visit to Toshogu, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Contrasting with traditional shrines that embrace a subtle and understated style, Toshogu struck me with its elaborate gold embellishments and vibrant colors. Intrigued by the distinct difference, I delved into its origin and came to realize that Toshogu, as a legacy of the historically significant Tokugawa family, symbolizes its dominant presence and esteemed status. The Tokugawa era, marked by peace and prosperity, fostered an artistic renaissance, which is evident in the impeccable details of Toshogu’s architecture. Indeed, this relentless pursuit of perfection and meticulous attention to every detail epitomize world-renowned Japanese craftsmanship.


BXAI SP2023 Temple
Toshogu Temple, Nikko
Bai Xian scholars donning their yukata


Stepping into Nikko’s Edo Wonderland, we immediately felt transported back to the Edo era. We were mesmerized by the Oiran's captivating performance, thrilled by the pulse-racing ninja battles, and entertained with hearty laughter by the comedic plays. Dressed in colorful Yukata, savoring shaved ice, and delighting in the peaceful melodies of wind chimes, what could be more of a classic Japanese summer day than this?

After a fun-filled and sun-soaked day, we retreated to a traditional Japanese ryokan. Every aspect of our stay--from the extravagant dinner with exquisite dishes to watching fireworks cascade over the river and bridge, and rejuvenating ourselves in a soothing onsen--was thoughtfully crafted for guests’ comfort and enjoyment, truly embodying the Omotenashi spirit of Japanese hospitality.

Nikko witnessed a myriad of treasured moments of serenity, enlightenment, deep engagement, and above all, genuine appreciation for the core Japanese cultural elements of intricacy, sophistication, and Omotenashi, all while forging lasting bonds and friendships.


Leadership Through a Conductor’s Lens

The leadership workshop through the lens of conducting an orchestra is nothing short of illuminating aha moments. While in business school, the exploration of leadership primarily lies in the business realm and is often approached via conventional methods such as a protagonist’s view from a given case study, or a guest lecturer’s understanding of a certain industry, I hadn’t considered navigating the role of an orchestra conductor to draw insights. Yet, orchestrating a harmonious musical performance and guiding a business organization indeed intersect with significant parallels. Thanks to a collaborative effort with Waseda University's orchestra team, we were presented with an experiential learning session that allowed some of us to physically step into the shoes of a conductor, wield the baton in front of intrigued observers, and direct the live performance of an orchestra.

It was a vivid and memory-forging demonstration of communication without words and leading with empathy. I came to appreciate the conductor’s role in maintaining harmony among diverse instruments, ensuring each musician feels integral to the success, and above all, evoking passion from each of the members. Just as a conductor brings out the best in each musician, great leaders recognize and harness the unique strengths of each team member. Leadership, as I realized, is as much about listening and understanding as it is about directing. It's about resonating with genuine emotion and leading from the heart.

BXAI SP2023 Orchestra
Leadership Workshop as an Orchestra Conductor


Experiencing Crisis Firsthand: Lessons from Honjo Life Center Experience

Beyond these highlights, there were numerous enriching experiences, each adding its own unique touch, and it is hard to detail each event individually. For instance, at the Honjo Life Center, we felt firsthand the sheer power of a 7-magnitude earthquake, encountered the overwhelming pressure of an urban flood against a door, and honed our survival skills during an evacuation drill amidst simulated smoke and fire. All in all, the 16-day life journey has etched meaningful marks on our Lifebook that we will cherish for a lifetime.

BXAI SP2023 Earthquake

Proud ICSer Contributing Unique Values to the BX Community

Hitotsubashi ICS stands apart from other sponsored institutions as the sole MBA program under the AFLSP scholarship. Well cultivated by ICS’ rigorous training and exposure to diverse leadership challenges, we’ve brought to the table unique value and real-world insights, thereby enriching the 2023 cohort’s overall experience. Our collective expertise elevated class discussions and broadened participants’ perspectives, especially during exchanges with distinguished panelists and speakers. Our business savvy and leadership attributes come into play in various situations, whether spearheading group projects, facilitating teamwork, crafting the commercial plan to solidify project ideas, or skillfully presenting to the judge panel on our team’s behalf. As proud ICSers, we've made notable contributions to the Bai Xian community.

Special Salute to the Alumni

Beyond the current cohort, alumni have been instrumental in shaping the Bai Xian community in various capacities—from serving as panelists, offering invaluable wisdom and resources, to dedicating their time as life and career mentors, and initiating large-scale programs and events in line with Bai Xian’s overarching mission and vision. Thanks to the alumni reception dinner, we had the precious opportunity to mingle, connect, and form bonds with a versatile group of Bai Xian alumni who have taken up diverse roles across NGOs/NPOs, the corporate sector, and academia globally. More crucially, these interactions laid the foundation for connections that transcend just occasional meetups.

A truly motivating moment was to witness our ICS alumni driving efforts at the forefront, in vitalizing the Bai Xian community. They not only lead the Bai Xian Tokyo chapter but also orchestrate a multitude of events—from monthly gatherings to quarterly workshops, spanning both formal and informal activities—to ensure the Bai Xian community remains interconnected, cohesive, and purposeful. It was a sheer joy reconnecting with ICS alumni during the reception dinner. Our conversations were filled with laughter and covered topics ranging from professors to Zemi, from career aspirations to shared global visions. Together, we celebrated our unique bonds and eagerly anticipated the exciting future ahead. A special shoutout goes to our ICS alumni for their commitment, dedication, and exemplary leadership.

BXAI SP2023 ICS AlumniHitotsubashi ICS Bai Xian AFLSP Alumni Scholars and Current Students

Heartfelt Warmth through the Faculty’s Strong Support and Personalized Care

It was uplifting to see the unwavering support from our esteemed faculty. Dean Emi and Prof. Yoshi generously spared their precious time to attend events, including the fireside chat, closing ceremony, and gala dinner. More than just the mere presence, they've gone beyond in linking us with accomplished alumni and important industry figures, enhancing our professional network and career prospects. For instance, Prof. Yoshi introduced us to Helen, an ICS career services director from two decades ago, now the leading external liaison for HKUST. During the gala dinner, Dean Emi connected me with the fund manager of the Chao family, anticipating the invaluable financial guidance I could receive. Their genuine care, dedication to our long-term success, and individualized approach towards each of us perfectly capture the warmth of the close-knit ICS family.

BXAI SP2023 ICS and Dean Emi Hitotsubashi ICS Dean Emi Osono with BXAI's ICS Scholars

The Dual Identity Privilege

Thanks to ICS, I've been privileged to join the distinguished Bai Xian community, gaining renewed perspectives on core values—social equality, philanthropic leadership, respect for diversity, integrity & truthfulness, and upholding peace through dialogues. The SP2023 experience and being part of this community have transformed me to be more regionally aware, entrepreneurial-spirited, genuine, and purposeful. It has also offered me premium access to mentoring resources, expanded professional networks, financial sponsorship opportunities for passionate initiatives, and insights and encouragement for venturing into Japan, among many other benefits.

SP2023 by no means is a mere fleeting moment, it's a legacy and a treasured chapter of my life, which I will reflect upon for years to come. Both proud and humbled, I'm tremendously grateful and appreciative of my dual identity as an ICSer and a Bai Xian scholar. I eagerly await future opportunities and would like to be part of the forces that create them to connect, contribute, and continue on this lifelong journey.

BXAI SP2023 Gala DinnerBai Xian's CEO Ronna Chao with Hitotsubashi ICS Bai Xian Scholars Alumni and Current Students

LinkedIn Angela Shao


Yuan Angela Shao

In her most recent role as the Senior HR Business Partner at Baidu USA, she played an integral role in strategizing organization restructuring initiatives, overseeing post-reorg change management, and leading talent acquisition amidst Silicon Valley’s fierce talent war. Leveraging opportunities to attend world-top conferences in AI such as CVPR, ACL, and AAAI, Angela proactively promoted employer branding and successfully attracted top-notch talents. During her MBA journey, she has developed a keen interest in venturing into Japan, particularly in the area of talent solutions.



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