Shanghai is far from the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, but it’s not as far as it once was thanks to a strong, growing alumni presence.

Warrington College of Business graduates are making an impact in the city of over 24 million people. Whether leading teams for one of the most recognizable companies in the world or growing an impactful social media platform, Warrington graduates in Shanghai are using the tools they gained at the College to move their companies forward.

With 9,000+ Business Gators across the world, this impact is happening in many locations as the Warrington thumbprint spreads around the globe.

Andrew Bolstein, Vice President of Operations, Shanghai Disney Resort

With 25 years of experience as a Disney Cast Member, Andrew Bolstein has seen many different roles and locations in the company. While going from a UF engineering student working at Walt Disney World to now the Vice President of Operations of the Shanghai Disney Resort, Bolstein has played an important role in the company’s growth throughout Asia.

Bolstein (MBA ’01) started as an industrial engineer at Disney, but he slowly began to receive opportunities on the operations side. As his role in operations began to increase, he thought it would be important to return to UF for his MBA.

“I decided the MBA was important to broaden my background and education,” Bolstein said. “The power of having a business degree and engineering degree is quite important, especially in Disney if you couple that with operational experience. It was extremely valuable to get the MBA component layered onto my background.”

Bolstein relocated to California, Disney’s hub for building ideas and beginning new parks, during his time in the Executive MBA program and was also traveling to Hong Kong and mainland China for work. He was serving as the Director of Park Operations for Hong Kong Disneyland, which was still in development.

When Hong Kong Disneyland was opened and stable, Bolstein spent time as the Vice President of Operations for Adventures by Disney, which provides group vacations to locations across the world. But it wasn’t long before he returned to the parks side of the company.

In 2009, Bolstein started working on Disney’s new Shanghai location, which opened on June 16, 2016. He was the first operations cast member on the project and today serves as the Vice President of Operations, which puts him in charge of operations for attractions, transportation, guest services, custodial, maintenance, security, food and beverage, and merchandise, among others.

It’s a large scope that has him focused on managing teams of people and the operations of the park itself. The role also allows Bolstein to translate concepts he learned from the UF MBA program into his job on a daily basis. He took a class on organizational culture that shaped the way his teams at Disney have been built.

“We talked about how to build a team and how to drive the right atmosphere and culture,” Bolstein recalled from his UF MBA classes. “Part of the interest for me was being in a classroom of 25 people where everybody worked in different companies and shared how their company ran and how we ran it at Disney. That networking and learning from others was really powerful.”

Bolstein tries to spend at least an hour per day walking through the Shanghai park. It’s an important time for him to get a sense of the park, encourage cast members and get a feel for how Shanghai’s unique weather patterns will impact that day.

“The priority is coaching cast members, observing inside the park and being in the area to make sure we’re delivering on the Disney experience,” Bolstein said. “That’s what makes us successful.”

Hillary Wang, Regional Director of Product Development in North Asia, Tourico Holidays

Working with companies throughout North Asia, Hillary Wang has grown accustomed to interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures. As the Regional Director of Product Development in North Asia for Tourico Holidays, she often works with business leaders from Europe, South America, the United States and many other areas.

Her experience in the Master of International Business program at Warrington prepared her to fill that role.

As a student in the MIB program, Wang (MIB ’13) remembers being challenged to work and learn with students from other cultures. That has easily correlated to her position with Tourico Holidays, a travel distribution company with over 800 employees across the world. She is now prepared to work with people from any region or background and ease any barriers that could come up.

“I had the opportunity to work with a lot of people from different backgrounds to try to understand where the gap is and how we work on the gap,” Wang said of her time in the MIB program. “That’s just like what I’m working on now. I work across a region and work with different people all the time. I try to understand the gap between cultures and why people act certain ways in businesses.

“That’s very important for my business now, and I definitely learned that in the MIB program.”

The program also gave her increased analytical skills that developed during the MIB courses. She now sees its benefits because they allow her to discover and take advantage of business opportunities at a higher level than her peers.

Wang wasn’t aware of the MIB program until a teacher at Henan University, where she graduated with her undergraduate degree, mentioned it. Catrina Siu, who was Wang’s English teacher, cited her GPA and test scores potentially being a good fit at Warrington, and Wang immediately reached out to learn more about the program.

She was drawn to the sizeable student body at UF that would provide her with an extensive group to learn from professionally and build friendships.

“When I started to learn more about the program, I was introduced to it and felt that it was a very good idea to go to the program,” Wang said. “I had a great experience and made a lot of lifetime friends. It really changed me a lot.”

Wang started with Tourico Holidays overseeing marketing in Southeast Asia. In August 2016, she moved to Shanghai when the company’s new office opened and promoted her into the role of Regional Director of Product Development in North Asia.

Lizhou Hong, General Manager of Business Strategy and International Business Development, Sina

While moving up in the digital marketing space, Lizhou Hong has worked in different parts of the industry and filled numerous roles. His time in the UF MBA program provided the background necessary for success.

Hong (MBA ’04) appreciated the program’s focus on preparing students to graduate with a full understanding of how to run a business.

“It was a very comprehensive framework in terms of the way businesses are run,” Hong said. “It teaches you different aspects of how to think about a business from the financials, marketing, accounting and many others. That was certainly helpful.”

When Hong graduated from the UF MBA program, he took a job as a consultant for a digital marketing agency called Avenue A/Razorfish, which has since changed its name to Razorfish. It didn’t take long before he moved up to Principal Consultant, Strategy Director and eventually Vice President of Strategy. After the company was part of a $6 billion acquisition for Microsoft, Hong started to consider the idea of moving back to China. At the beginning of 2010, Razorfish asked him to run its China operations.

While Hong was the Managing Director of Razorfish and Digitas China, he was approached by Sina Weibo, a social media website similar to Twitter which is one of the largest networks in China. They were beginning efforts to monetize the platform, and Hong got to know the company’s COO, who ultimately asked Hong to join their team. He made the move in 2012 and has gone through a few job titles since, including General Manager of Marketing Strategy. Now working as the General Manager of Business Strategy and International Business Development, Hong is responsible for the direction of the business.

That responsibility often puts him in contact with people from different backgrounds. While growing up in China and living in the United States for 16 years, Hong expanded his professional background in the UF MBA program to become more effective working with different groups of people.

“The UF MBA program simulates the true working environment in a department,” Hong said. “It’s about collaboration. I learned how to work with people that had different backgrounds, different ways of thinking and different personalities. Some are probably easier than others, but you encounter all of that in a real working space.

“The fundamental understanding of how businesses are run and all of those trainings in the UF MBA program have become more and more valuable for me.”