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A successful alumna offers some ‘guangxi’

IU alumna Debra Wright, right, with a visiting student from the IU Kelley School of Business

Thanks to Facebook, J T. Forbes, executive director of the IU Alumni Association, has been briefly been sharing with his hundreds 0f friends his experiences from travels this week in China and Korea. Forbes has been traveling there with IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

Naturally, both men have been able to connect with alumni, including some native Hoosiers who are now finding professional success in China.

Among our delegation’s activities was a reception for alumni and friends of the Research Center on Chinese Politics and Business in Shanghai. There I met the engaging Debra Wright, who I’ve continued to correspond with since getting back to Bloomington.

Also known to her friends as “May Day Deb,” Wright works in Nanjing as a business consultant for a Jinling Holdings Ltd., a Chinese government-owned entity that operates or manages nearly 100 hotels and resorts all over China, as well as real estate developments, retail operations and office properties.

They include the No. 1 hotel for business and conferences in Nanjing, which also has hosted world leaders, presidents and royalty from all over the world.

She was the first westerner in the organization’s management team and she graciously has agreed to let me introduce her to you.

“I have been working here as a business consultant for over five years, the first foreign executive ever hired,” she wrote me. “It has been an interesting journey. Through my experience, I have developed major ‘guangxi’ (relationships) throughout China. This is very important and in fact it is necessary in order to do practically anything over here!  China is quite different from America but that is what makes things fun, as you know.”

Like many loyal IU alumni, Debra has offered to use some of her “guangxi” to help open more doors between IU and educational organizations in China. For example, Nanjing is known for its excellent education system and more than 40 universities are located there.

“I can only imagine how beautiful it is in Bloomington this time of year. I remember Little 500 very well and those lovely dogwood trees,” she wrote. “Actually, Nanjing is known for its plum trees, which are also quite beautiful this time of year. They call it “Plum Blossom Festival,” with all kinds of celebrations out at Purple Mountain, a very beautiful part of Nanjing.

“I still have much admiration and loyalty for my Alma mater and many happy memories!”

Joining us at the reception were students from the Kelley School of Business. Perhaps one of them will follow Debra here in the near future. I hope to return to China and see her again.

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