By: Ryan Kowalewski, MBA
Since my last entry, we have been fortunate enough to experience some of the great technological marvels that China has to offer. First we took a bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai. While I was expecting a good ride in the train nothing could have prepared me for just how smooth and quick it was. The train was able to accelerate from 0 to over 185 mph over a period of about a minute. Even running at that top speed it was smoother than anything that I can compare it to in the States.
After arriving in Shanghai, we went to visit the Shanghai World Financial Center which used to be the tallest building in China and second tallest in the world. It has since been eclipsed by a sister building a couple blocks away which is due to open in the next year. However, the observatory from the 1,500-foot tall building provided quite the view of the city below. It even offered some glass panels to look down through if you were brave enough!
We also had the opportunity to visit the Shanghai museum which offered a number of exhibits highlighting the great history of China. Going from the bullet train and Financial Center to an exhibit displaying coins from 4,000 years ago really drives home the point of the vast history of China. Similarly, during dinner we have been treated to some traditional favorites such as Beijing Roast Duck and other meats that we are still not sure what they were. But if you’re not feeling that adventurous we have seen a number of KFCs, Subways, and McDonalds if you need a taste of the West.
In between the sightseeing, we have been very fortunate to meet with a number of American companies that are operating in China. This allowed us to learn about the unique challenges offered by the Chinese market while dealing with familiar products such as Cummins engines, Lilly pharmaceuticals, or Whirlpool appliances. Understanding both the business side of China and the Chinese culture will be very important as we start the next portion of the trip, a consulting project for a local company in Shanghai.
The project will be very fast paced and involves meeting the company and delivering a final presentation and recommendation. We are joining four other teams from City University in Hong Kong to assist the local company in developing their business. Each of our teams will have a specific area off focus during the week. Our specific project will be around the long-range strategic plan of the company which we have been told is the most difficult assignment of this project. We have learned that our views as Westerners are considered quite valuable and we are hoping we will live up to expectations and represent the Kelley School of Business well.