Since I was always told that the International Trip is the highlight of the program, much expectation was projected long before going on the trip. Especially as being a native Chinese, feelings and emotions were mixed. On one side, I was very excited that my home land will be introduced to my MBA fellow colleagues in both formal and informal ways; on the other side, I was very nervous how they will view the nowadays ‘China. I believe most of my worries boil down to my very deeply embedded Chinese part of culture, which is “Mian Zi”, known as “Face” in English terms. In addition, I myself packed a lot of questions (and clothes) for this trip, and hoped to find answers to them all.
As expected, there were quite a few surprises to me as soon as I landed in China this time. I have to admit I was skeptical and unprepared for these surprises, such as different standard charge of taxi fare in Beijing and Shanghai; overpriced foreign brand luxury goods(Chinese Government impose certain percentage of tariff on foreign imported goods, luxury goods’ tariff are much higher than commodity goods). Apart from the surprises on the side of daily life, there were few points to highlight:
1. Multinational companies operating in major cities of China, such as Shanghai and Beijing created a very unique operating/communicating environment where international standard are established and updated as while Chinese culture is thoroughly penetrated
2. China’s focus of next decade has shifted to sustainability, which reflects the change in leadership style. It sounds more promising to Chinese and to the rest of world. In major cities, I saw rapid change in mentality concerning overall wellbeing of our earth.
3. Communist party is more open today and they admit they make mistakes, they are more open to talk about sensitive topics such as human rights and how the party functions
The trip was very well prepared and tailored for MBA students. The organizer did an amazing job by fitting in many events within days aiming at expose as much aspects as possible to us which was very much appreciated. I found most of speakers related their presentations/talks to MBA students’ perspective, which made communication a lot of easier in a foreign country of a complete different culture and language. Most of events focused on cultural issues, seemed to me that to understand Chinese Culture is the key step to the success in doing business in China. Many of cultural dynamics have developed to international standard, such as the directness and openness in business communication style; while some of them remained the same, such as the famous terms of “Mianzi”, “Guanxi” and equation of “Baijiu + Table = Contract Signed”.
As being a native Chinese, it was first time for me to get a close look at the insight of modern Chinese styled international business operations. I was very much inspired by the level of modernization of how knowledge is shared, how information is managed, how operations are run and how modern their communication styles are. In addition, it is still astounding that Tier 1 cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai are as modern as international cities such as New York in developed countries. When we went to The Old Shanghai and Forbidden City in Beijing I discovered more familiar settings from my memories as a child growing in China. I realized it was my first time in Shanghai, the traditional Shanghai lay-out I was longing for was really from pictures and TV series. Somehow a picture came across my mind, which was the image of China Town in San Francisco, where I found most of traditional Chinese community culture lives and multiplies in the 21st century, regardless how modernized outside world San Francisco downtown is, which located 5 minutes away by cable car.
At the end of the trip, I got most of my questions answered. On top of that, I was very relieved that the feedback from my MBA fellow colleagues is very positive. I feel that now I can say it out loud as being a native Chinese “I am proud of my country.” And what the future holds for China.
– Christine Liu, Full-time MBA 2011/12