From Tianjin to WVU: B&E hosts Chinese banking executives

August 31, 2012

By Rachel Nieman

The Center for Executive Education in the WVU College of Business and Economics helps decision-makers from all industries become more dynamic leaders and more valuable team members, while our Center for Chinese Business focuses on furthering mutually beneficial enterprise between the U.S. and China. This summer, these centers teamed up to host a group of 20 banking executives from Tianjin, China, for a three-week program on U.S. finance. Each of the executives received a certification in Financial Risk Management and Financial Supervision upon completion.

Tianjin Exec Students

B&E faculty members taught the course, including Dr. Victor Chow, a finance professor specializing in financial consulting and financial planning between the U.S., mainland China and Taiwan; Dr. Paul Speaker, associate professor of finance, specialist in corporate finance and financial institutions; and Louis F. Tanner Distinguished Professor of Public Accounting Dr. Dick Riley, who is a forensic accountant and certified fraud examiner. Joining our faculty members was John Forbes, an expert in anti-money laundering, border security and foreign/congressional affairs.

Lecture material included topics like U.S. financial markets, commercial lending and regulation of banking, change and development trends of the U.S. financial crisis, financial fraud, risk control of government investing and corporate financial risk control.

Since most of the lecture material had to be translated to accommodate the students, whose professions included bank presidents, directors and general managers, five students served as in-class interpreters. Two translators worked simultaneously for each class; one to translate and one to focus on the needs of the students. All of the translators were B&E graduate students: Zach Chen, Rui Zhang, Yang Liu and Juyun Lu are all graduate finance students, and Michael Zhao is an MSIR student. Liu and Lu are also students in B&E's Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination (FAFE) program.

Interpreting was beneficial to the graduate students. "Not only are they paid to interpret, but it's also an opportunity for them to get to know high level executives from Tianjin and bankers from around Morgantown. Plus, they're interested in these topics as well," said Martina Bison-Huckaby, Director for Executive Education.

Zhao, who helped organize the program, agreed. "We can learn from these people. They are bankers, they are CEOs and presidents of banks. It was great to communicate with them and learn from them."

"Without Michael, I don't think this (program) could have happened. He's the brave soul that went to New York by himself to pick them up," Bison-Huckaby said.

Zhao picked up the executives from a New York City airport when they arrived in late July. After visiting various financial institutions and iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Zhao brought them to Morgantown for lecture-based and experiential learning.

The executive students from Tianjin visited United Bank and Clear Mountain Bank in Morgantown and were greeted by a variety of bankers, many of whom were B&E alumni. Meeting with local bankers was mutually beneficial to both parties, as the students held similar positions in their respective banks in China. They were able to have brainstorming discussions to compare the Chinese and American ways of doing banking.

Both banks were very welcoming to the executives, as United Bank provided lunch at the Waterfront Place Hotel after meeting with bankers, including B&E alumni John Fahey and Tim Saab, Senior Vice Presidents, and Kevin Speaker , Vice President for Credit Administration. Also in attendance was Darren Williams, Regional President for the Morgantown and Pennsylvania Region. Clear Mountain Bank invited the students to the grand opening of its new Suncrest branch. Here, they were again warmly greeted by B&E alumni Brian Thomas, President and CEO, and Frank Vitale, Senior Vice President.

The trip had some tourism components to it as well. A visit to Coopers Rock, W.Va., was in order. The group also shopped at outlet stores in Washington, Pa., followed by a Washington Wild Things minor league baseball game vs. the Lake Erie Crushers. They were also able to experience the Duquesne Incline and take a tour of Pittsburgh. They were greeted by the West Virginia Commissioner of Banking Sara M. Cline in the state Capitol in Charleston. They received a tour of the capitol and heard a presentation by the Securities Division of the State Auditor's Office on preventing financial fraud. Lastly, they traveled to Washington, D.C., for some sightseeing of the nation's capital and a visit to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where money is made.

This was the first time the centers hosted the program, but they hope to continue to offer it each year.

"They have appreciated what we have done for them," Zhao said. "Maybe one day they will come back and learn more."