China and Europe play important roles in the global economy and innovation, and Tsinghua University and INSEAD are leading institutions that offer opportunities to learn new knowledge and acquire cutting-edge skills.
DeHui Gao

Dehui Gao

Dehui Gao
Nationality/Passport: Singaporean Year of graduation: 2024 Current Role: CEO

Tell us about yourself, and how you go to where you are today both on a professional and personal level?

I am the CEO of SDTR Marine and responsible for the company’s strategic planning, risk management and long-term tonnage/new building projects.

I started my career in a Chinese conglomerate, managing grain purchasing, futures hedging and freight. Subsequently I took on a senior management role in other ship-owning companies. I am also dedicated to contributing to the shipping industry with active involvement in various industry initiatives.

My career has been quite diverse. In the first five years of my work, I constantly adjusted my interests and career goals until I finally settled on shipping as my lifelong career. I graduated from university with a degree in History and Archives, and while most of my classmates went on to work for the government or became teachers, I was interested in working for a company as I felt it would better suit my personality and provide more opportunities for me to excel.

After graduation, I worked for a conglomerate that dealt with agricultural products and steel. I started in the administrative department and was selected to work as the CEO's secretary during my internship.

After six months, I applied to work in the international trade department where I was exposed to futures trading, international trade in agricultural products and iron ore, and began to learn about shipping. I was diligent and enjoyed learning new knowledge and skills, as well as making new friends. I quickly formed connections with industry experts and entrepreneurs.

Three years later, I began working for a specialised shipping company as a partner, starting from a shipping broker, then becoming a ship operator, and finally working for a shipowner. With each role, I approached it with great concentration and strived to do my best, following the changing circumstances that led me to each new position.

What made you decide you wanted to pursue the INSEAD TIEMBA, and why INSEAD in particular? 

As my company continues to develop, I personally want to further my comprehensive knowledge of company management through systematic learning. At the same time, as I enter middle age, I find that my former social circle from elementary, middle, and high school has gradually distanced themselves due to changes in backgrounds, knowledge, social experiences, and other factors. I also hope to meet some friends through the EMBA programme who share similar values and experiences.

Initially, I was interested in applying for the GEMBA programme, but the admissions counsellor suggested that given my background of being born in China, the TIEMBA programme may be a better fit for me in terms of my career development. Therefore, in the second to last round of admissions, I applied for the TIEMBA programme and everything went smoothly.

Which campus(es) have you experienced, and can you tell us more about any similarities or differences?

I have experienced three different campuses of the TIEMBA programme: Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Beijing, each with its own unique characteristics.

The Abu Dhabi campus is more exquisite and has excellent nearby hotel accommodations. The Singapore campus has complete facilities, convenient transportation, and is located right next to the subway station, providing a good learning environment.

The Beijing campus is located within Tsinghua University, which has a long history and beautiful scenery.

Did you have any expectations before you started the TIEMBA, and did you speak to any alumni before joining the programme?

What attracted me to the TIEMBA programme was its collaboration between INSEAD and Tsinghua University, both of which are prestigious universities.

I can benefit from the resources of both schools and also learn about two different cultures. I once asked a fellow alumnus about this programme, and he gave it high praise, which also boosted my confidence in pursuing this programme.

Has the INSEAD TIEMBA helped you in your career?

Firstly, both INSEAD and Tsinghua University have outstanding professors, from whom I learned a great deal of new knowledge and skills, filling gaps in my own expertise.

Secondly, exchanging ideas with classmates from various industries broadened my perspectives. Thirdly, meeting more people allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of human nature which is also a benefit to me as CEO.

My company and I have won the BAFG Award 2023 for corporates in Singapore. We are very grateful for INSEAD's recognition and affirmation of our company, which is also a huge encouragement for us. It is also beneficial for enhancing our company's reputation in the industry

Has the experience helped you remain relevant after graduation?

All the knowledge, skills, and experiences that I have gained will greatly benefit my future career and life.

What advice will you give to prospects who are still considering whether an INSEAD TIEMBA should be part of their career plan?

I strongly recommend that prospective candidates consider applying for the TIEMBA programme.

On one hand, China and Europe play important roles in the global economy and innovation, and Tsinghua University and INSEAD are leading institutions that offer opportunities to learn new knowledge and acquire cutting-edge skills.

On the other hand, the diverse cultural and cross-industry exchanges in the programme will broaden your horizons quickly and greatly benefit your future career.