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'Zen Yang, Dude:' Why MBAs Need to Be Bilingual

'Zen Yang, Dude:' Why MBAs Need to Be Bilingual
Photograph by Alexander Klein/AFP via Getty Images

As an undergraduate, Scott Goldman would walk around Tufts University with a whiteboard so he could constantly practice writing Chinese characters. An international affairs major, he later studied at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and now works for the school in Shanghai. Goldman says foreign language skills are becoming critical for B-school grads, citing as one example the Chinese search giant Baidu, where Mandarin is all but required. He expects that to be true of other Chinese companies that are increasingly a draw for U.S.-based business students.

Indeed, more people think that a foreign language is an essential tool in the business student’s toolbox. An online poll conducted by the Economist has gathered 1,544 responses, with 73 percent saying it’s important to learn a new language at business school.