China Fellowship Program - Nomination FAQs


Who is the ideal candidate?
We are looking for proven entrepreneurs and innovators in the private sector who have achieved significant success and are now at an “inflection point” – that is, at a point in their lives and careers where they are ready to take on a broader leadership role in improving the wellbeing of Chinese society. Being at an inflection point is different from being ready to change jobs. Fellows must be at a stage in their lives when they are ready to explore how to use their skills, experiences, resources, and networks to broaden and deepen their impact. We are looking for people who make things happen. Not analysts or advisors. Our strongest candidates have started and grown something and are ready to do more. 

You say you want entrepreneurial business professionals who have already achieved considerable professional success. How do you define success?
We are most interested in candidates who have risen to the top of their chosen field. Most Aspen Leadership Fellows are founders of an organization, CEOs, executive directors, and senior executives.

Is my candidate eligible if he or she will turn 46 this year?
Eligible candidates must be 45 years old or younger by November of the year that the Fellowship begins.

Do you accept nominations for candidates based outside of the Greater China Region?
Unfortunately, we do not.

What are the criteria for a candidate?

þ Region: reside in Greater China region
þ Language: possess absolute fluency in English (seminar discussion and readings are in English)
þ Age: between 30-45 years of age

þ Successful: a proven leader from private business sector
þ Entrepreneurial: action-oriented, with a track record of starting and building things
þ Diversity of Experience: not a “cookie cutter” professional, has a unique story

þ At an inflection point: at a time in one’s life to move from success to significance
þ Willingness to be open and listen: authentic and present during seminar discussion
þ Impeccable integrity: a respectable and socially conscious leader


What do you expect from fellows?
The program requires each Fellow to commit to attending all seminar meetings in their entirety (i.e., 4 seminars of 5-7 days each). On top of this is the time required to prepare for each seminar, as well as the time and energy to design and launch a leadership venture of the Fellow's own choosing. Participation will be without cost to the Fellows or their organizations, with the exception of incidental expenses and travel costs to the seminar sites.

Is there any flexibility in the requirement that the Fellow attend every seminar from start to finish?
No. Fellows must participate in all four seminars. An inability to commit to either eliminates candidates for the coming year. All of our Fellows are busy, but we do expect all of our Fellows to attend each and every seminar, from start to finish. No late arrivals or early departures. No ducking out for calls or meetings. We know this sounds difficult, but we now have more than 2,500 Fellows who have been able to respect this requirement of their Fellowship. We ask the nominator to stress the importance of examining the published seminar dates, as well as the venture-related criteria and frequently asked questions.

What sort of leadership venture will Fellows be expected to complete?
The guiding purpose of the China Fellowship Program is to motivate entrepreneurial leaders across the region to move “from success to significance,” by working to address the foremost social and economic challenges of their country. As such, an integral part of the Fellowship experience is each Fellow undertaking a “leadership venture” that is developed during the Fellowship period, but lasts a lifetime – a chance to put your values into action. In designing and implementing these ventures, it is expected that the Fellows will apply the sorts of leadership principles and practices we have studied together around the seminar table. We encourage Fellows to consider ventures as an opportunity. An opportunity to do what you’ve always meant to do, but never found the time for. An opportunity to bring a fresh approach to a problem you see. To be daring. To be bold. To take some risks.

When do Fellows have to decide what they will do for their ventures?
Fellows are not expected to arrive at the first seminar knowing what venture they will undertake. Rather, the Fellowship experience and the other members of their class are meant to inspire them to discover what they would like to do. We do expect them to identify and commit to an idea within the first six months, and to begin implementing the initiative during the two-year Fellowship period. The Fellowship does not provide finan¬cial resources for these ventures, but we will approve the ventures and provide support that includes coaching and mentoring.


How well do I have to know the candidate to nominate them?
Very well. We are not looking for someone you have merely met at a conference or read about in an article who impresses you and appears to fit our criteria. We look to you as a nominator to provide an in-depth look into candidate’s background, values, and readiness to take full advantage of this opportunity.

How can my nomination letter be most effective?
To be most effective, your nomination letter will convince us of the following five things: (1) The candidate has proven success in the private sector; (2) The candidate is an entrepreneur /a doer; (3) He or she is at the right point in their life and career to step back and think about how to broaden their leadership and impact; (4) The candidate is not daunted by the sorts of challenges that may scare away others. We will look for tangible evidence that the candidate is persistent and has overcome obstacles in the past; (5) The candidate understands the requirements of the Fellowship and can commit to completing them. Candidates must be able to control their calendars if they want to participate in the Fellowship.

Should I tell my candidate that I am nominating them?
Absolutely, yes, you should tell your candidate because you need to ensure that he or she is interested in the Fellowship and available to participate fully if selected. Please forward the nomination materials to them and make sure they visit our website so that they understand the program and the time commitment it involves, and that they are fully prepared to engage.

How can I prepare my nominee for an interview?
Please ask them to be open and honest. At this point in the process, we are confident the candidate meets our basic criteria (e.g., success in their field, innovative, between the ages of 30 and 45). The interview is about getting to know them as a person. Are they at an inflection point in their life? Are they willing to be open and vulnerable at the seminar table and with their classmates? Do they have a kind heart and generous spirit to take this journey for themselves and their classmates? The interview is a chance to really get to know each of our top candidates and see how their personality would fit into our class mosaic. Everything said at the interview is confidential, so please encourage your candidate to feel comfortable sharing anything they feel is important about who they are as a leader and a potential China Fel¬low. In addition, we strongly encourage them to reach out to a few alumni or current Fellows to get a feel for the Fellowship.

How do you select each class of Fellows?
Each class has 20-22 Fellows, women and men, all between the ages of 30 and 45. The ideal class will include Fellows from various personal and professional backgrounds whose experiences will com-plement, challenge, and inspire each other during the seminars and throughout the Fellowship. We are looking for diversity within the class. Each Fellow should have something to teach and something to learn from the others. We call the process of putting together the ideal class “creating the mosaic,” and it’s both a science and an art. Unfortunately, there are many exceptional, impressive individuals who are not chosen to be Fellows simply because they don’t fit the class mosaic for that particular year. That’s why we reconsider candidates, sometimes for a number of years, for their suitability for future classes.

If you have any further questions, please contact the program's managing director, Spring Fu ( or the program coordinator, Katherine Hurley (