Going into our trip, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Having frequently traveled myself (due to parents who believed that exploring the world was really the only true way to learn life’s lessons), I had never been to China. Visiting the Great Wall had always been on my bucket list, but for some odd reason, I had never really thought about exploring the surrounding areas. When it was announced that we would be headed to Beijing, I was incredibly excited! A new city on the planet I had never been to and I was about to explore it on an entirely different level than any of my past travels.
The intensity of the schedule was something that I loved. The bus rides, not so much. I get motion sick easily. But the actual visits to each company were so eye opening. I was and still am grateful for such an opportunity to visit places like Topnew to get an inside look on how state owned factories are operated; Microsoft to get an insider’s perspective of patent and trademark laws in China; getting the perspective of a Chinese company looking to expand globally in Lenovo; and also going to BASF where Joerg Wuttke gave an incredibly candid view of his own experiences of doing business in China coming from the western world himself. The discussions that we had with William Baker and Jack Perkowski were insightful as well. To hear their take on doing business in China, both positive and negative, allowed me and I believe the entire class to really think for our self and allow us to come to our own conclusions. This entire trip was a true learning experience that allowed us to learn something that may have taken us 4 months to learn in a traditional classroom in a very quick 7 day trip. It was incredibly valuable and I have already taken back a few things to my company to implement as we look to expand to mainland China.
Another fun aspect of the trip that I didn’t really think about prior to going was the friendships that I ended up making on the trip. Bonding with some fellow cohorts made this trip that much more enjoyable. Having dinners at restaurants in different hutongs each night was like an episode of the “Amazing Race” for us as we went through dark alley ways to find GEMS hidden in restaurants that had some of the best food I had ever tasted! It was such a bonding experience each night that I walked away from this trip having made lifelong friends. You can’t beat that.