whartonforum
Photo: Daniel Xu / The Daily Pennsylvanian

The Wharton China Business Society’s annual conference kicked off this weekend in Huntsman Hall, attracting students and professionals.

Now in its fourteenth year, the conference is larger than everwith the addition of a case competition for high school and university students.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Scaling the Great Wall,” focused on achieving greater cultural and professional opportunities. The conference’s three main panels — Innovation and Technology: Entrepreneur’s Alike, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling and Mergers and Acquisitions: Crossing the Border —analyzed topics important to Penn students, from challenges facing Asian-Americans in the Western workplace to the newest technological advances on the market.

College sophomore Kara Hu, one of the co-directors of forum for the Wharton China Business Society, said that the Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling panel was one of her favorites. The term “bamboo ceiling” refers to the difficulties for Asian-Americans advancing in the Western workplace, and the panel focused on dealing with those issues.

“There are a lot more Chinese students coming into the U.S. right now and a lot of them do want to work in the American workplace,” Hu said. “So it’s a topic that’s really relevant to most of us.”

In addition to the conference WCBS launched its first case competition this year, which allows teams of high school and university students to compete for prizes including a summer internship in Beijing with Sunrise International Education. The competition, which was held on Sunday, challenged competitors to find solutions to real-life business scenarios and present their recommendations to a panel of judges.

Wharton junior May Chan, co-vice president of the case competition, said the case was meant to approachable for competitors of all levels.

“The case is very friendly to people who don’t even know about finance,” Chan said. “Opening that door to people of all majors...that’s a big thing we’re excited about.”

Wharton sophomore Abraham Gomez, also a co-vice president of the case competition, said he hoped the competition would give participants, “a better appreciation of the Chinese business market, and especially cross-border business relations.”

The conference has grown this year due to WCBS’s partnership with collaborators such as Penn Wharton China Center and Sunrise International Education, bringing in speakers like Stella Li, the president of BYD Motor Incorporated, and Deng Wei, the president of Century Bridge Capitol.

Despite the conference’s growth, Wharton junior Elaine Chen, a co-director of forum, said its focus remains on Penn students and their interests.

“When we crafted a theme, the panels, [chose] who would be our keynotes, the ultimate question that we asked was ‘What would benefit the students most?” Chen said. “At the end of the day... we’re a student group, so our focus really is on students.”

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.