When Feng Deng applied to Wharton’s EMBA program in San Francisco, he was a successful entrepreneur running NetScreen Technologies in the Silicon Valley. His company employed 1,000 people, but to eventually manage a larger team, he knew he needed a formal business education.
“My background was in engineering and I wanted to gain knowledge in other areas like finance, strategy and marketing – all of which would be necessary if I wanted to grow into a much bigger company,” he says. “Also, my company had gone public and I had made some money so I was thinking about going back to China to do something on a broader scale – something related to finance and investments.”
Since Wharton has a strong global reputation in finance, including China where there are a significant number of alumni, Deng set his sights on Wharton’s executive MBA program. Knowing his classmates would be similarly further along in their careers, he was pleased to find that many shared his interest in entrepreneurship.
During his first year at Wharton | San Francisco, Deng sold NetScreen Technologies to Juniper Networks for $4.2 billion. Staying on as vice president of corporate strategy at Juniper, he began talking to his Wharton classmates about ideas for his next venture.
After deciding to start a venture capital company in Beijing, one of his Wharton classmates, Jeffrey Lee, joined him as a founding member and CFO of the firm. They launched Northern Light Venture Capital after graduating in 2005 and have since invested in several companies founded by other Wharton classmates.
Deng says that his Wharton education has proven to be quite useful in his role as a VC in China. “Not only do I have a strong knowledge of finance, but when I try to raise money, people look at my credentials and see that I used to be an entrepreneur and that I also have a Wharton MBA,” notes Deng. He adds that the active Wharton alumni network in Asia – and the VC industry – is a nice benefit as well.