By: Ryan Kowalewski, MBA’15
Hello, I am currently a student enrolled in the Kelley School of Business Evening MBA program in Indianapolis. I began my Kelley career in August 2013 and am planning on graduating this upcoming December. Throughout this time, I have gained a significant appreciation for the number of decisions that must be made in the business world. Having a background in engineering, I was always comfortable with the numbers side of business, but the soft-skills side was always a challenge for me. In an effort to improve these skills, I am participating in an overseas study trip to China that will last through the end of the month. During this time, I will be updating this blog with my experiences as well as our group learnings.
One of the earliest skills taught in the Kelley MBA program is how to think critically about a problem and make a well-informed managerial decision. This skill is continually developed in every class, from finance to marketing to supply chain. Throughout these the one message the remains consistent is that a manager has to realize how their decisions will impact not only the business but other stakeholders as well. Some of these additional stakeholders are obvious such as employees, but some are a little more hidden. Perhaps, a university that is attended by many employees of a company would be adversely affected if there was a cut in continuing education funding. Maybe a city will compete heavily to woo a business that would create jobs in the community. In the United States, we are all very familiar with the trickle down effects business decisions have. But is this the same in the rest of the world?
Specifically, in China things are sometimes thought of has being in a mystery box where we don’t really know what happens. Most are familiar with the “Made in China” stamp or sticker on a number of items we buy here in North America, but what is really behind this? In the United States we know businesses make decisions based on the best interests of a mix of stakeholders mentioned above. For a Communist country such as China, it is commonly thought that all industry is controlled by the government. While this is true for some companies, many other are trying to adapt to a more open economy within the Socialist political structure. With China currently hosting the world’s second largest economy, it is important to understand what drives Chinese businesses as well as consumers. Foreign countries that are able to make significant inroads into China will have a decided advantage in the future. With this in mind, traveling to China as part of an academic trip presents a unique opportunity to learn about the country in a safer environment than what would be allowed in a more formal business setting.
During our time in China, we will be meeting with a number of Fortune 500 companies that have significant operations in China. This will give us insight into how these companies have been successful in China and what challenges they see moving forward. To cap off the trip, we will have a consulting assignment with a local company that is looking to introduce a new brand and product into the market. Throughout these experiences, we will gain a new insight into the world of Chinese business and will better understand what it takes for a company to be successful in China.