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Embracing Change: ACEM Alumna Chen Juan on AI, Lifelong Learning, and Women's Empowerment 2024-03-19

Chen Juan, a doctoral alumna of Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, currently serves as the senior manager of the Digital Channel Team at China Merchants Bank's Transaction Banking Department. In this inspiring interview, she reflects on her transformative journey at Antai, highlighting how the college's rigorous research methodologies and international academic resources have shaped her into an open-minded, curious, and resilient individual.

Looking ahead, Chen Juan expresses her hopes for Antai's continued pioneering role in financial management research and emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning in the face of rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). She also sheds light on the evolving landscape for women, believing that their unique strengths can be harnessed to drive progress and make greater contributions to society. Join us as we explore Chen Juan's reflections on the changing times and her unwavering belief in the power of women to shape a brighter future.

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Q: Looking back from your current standpoint, how would you view yourself in the past? What would you like to say to yourself?

A: During my time, it was uncommon for women who didn't aspire to a teaching career to pursue a PhD, so I had some reservations about my decision to embark on doctoral studies. However, if I could go back to that point, I would reassure myself that it was the right choice. The experience of pursuing a PhD at Antai gave me the opportunity to deepen my understanding and research of the world around me, to master a set of research methodologies, to discover new perspectives for perceiving the world, and to connect with diverse groups of people. In retrospect, any hesitation I had at that time was unwarranted. If I could return to that juncture, as a woman deciding to take a chance on this path, I would still choose to enrich my inner self, because conducting research is tremendously fulfilling and rewarding.


Q: You mentioned that Antai has helped shape your life values to some extent. Could you elaborate on how your experience at Antai has specifically influenced and changed you?

A: I remember when I graduated and faced career choices between a specialized supply chain role and the finance job I currently hold, I ultimately opted for finance. This decision is closely tied to the rapid cross-disciplinary research approach I honed during my PhD studies. To this day, I constantly seek intersections between my current and future work, striving to find solutions at these junctures that can simultaneously break new ground in both areas.

The university's rich international academic resources also instilled in me an open-minded and curious attitude. My colleagues highly praise me for never easily dismissing any valuable ideas. I still recall how my supervisor at the time was among the top echelon in China, which fostered the pursuit of excellence in any field and a competitive spirit to strive for the best. This competitive character means never conceding defeat or admitting failure.


Q: I can see from your responses that you have a strong sense of identity and belonging to Antai. Your academic journey there is a very memorable experience for you. As this year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Reestablishment of SJTU School of Management, what blessings do you have for the college?

A: I hope Antai will maintain its pioneering role in academic research and application of financial management for Shanghai and China as a whole. I also hope that the entire alumni network of Antai and the students currently pursuing their studies will be able to contribute to society. May all female graduates of Shanghai Jiao Tong University be able to give back to our alma mater and succeed in their own work and life so that the spirit of pursuing excellence can be carried forward. I hope to see an ever-growing circle of Jiao Tong University friends and Antai alumni.


Q: What changes do you perceive around you now, and how do you think we can embrace the changing world?

A: The current development of AI is likely to profoundly impact society as a whole. Although it is not yet mature, I believe AI will transform our traditional learning methods, and the entire human thought system will undergo fundamental changes. To cope with such changes, lifelong learning is crucial. In the era of AGI, the organizational and management models of institutions will experience significant shifts, and social concepts and cognition will gradually evolve, providing women with a completely new ecology for survival and development. Women's unique creativity, flexible traits, and team management abilities can be better utilized, giving rise to many innovative opportunities in integrated fields. With the help of AI agents, women's traditionally disadvantaged positions can also be strengthened, unleashing more potential and enabling them to make greater contributions to families and society.

I have witnessed how many people define women's contribution to society as limited to contributions within the family unit, which constrains their autonomy and time, as more of it is invested in the family and less in society. However, I also observe that traditional gender roles are changing, so I am very optimistic about the power of women.