In preparation for 2018 Operations Global Lab, Professor Dickstein reflects on his own experience in Hong Kong and China.
My first passport in the early 70s explicitly banned travel to and acceptance for passage in China (as well as North Korea, North Vietnam, and Cuba). But with Nixon’s surprise visit in 1972 orchestrated by Henry Kissinger, relations gradually improved (sometimes referred to as the period of “ping pong diplomacy”, reflecting an early exchange of visits) and the door crept open. Coincidentally, I was in Hong Kong just months after this historic event, and any worries about using my U.S. passport for entry into Canton (now Guangzhou) were dispelled by a U.S. consular official who simply used a magic marker to cross out China from the list of banned countries. In the years since I have made five visits into China and twice as many into Hong Kong, a one-time British colony until July 1997 and a logistical gateway with its modern infrastructure into all of Southeast Asia.
Going back nearly 10,000 years China was the largest and most advanced civilization on earth. The remarkable engineering feat of the Great Wall was completed about 1700 years BEFORE Columbus’ voyage to the New World. As recently as the 1270s, Marco Polo was “astonished at the wealth of China”.
This advancement was not sustained due to violent competition for power, the Japanese invasions in the 1900s, and Mao’s destructive decade of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s that further impoverished the population. The past forty plus years have witnessed an unprecedented pace of development. Today, China is the world’s most populous country and the largest participant in global trade, with 2015 imports + exports of nearly 4 trillion USD. (The comparable total for the U.S. in second position is 3.8 trillion).
Our trip provides an opportunity to experience firsthand some of the world’s most advanced infrastructure (airports, high speed rail) and oldest culture. While Hong Kong may be a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, 100 years of British rule have left an outward, global perspective and a strong rule of law. In the most recent Ease of Doing Business rankings prepared by the World Bank, Hong Kong is #4 (compared to the United States at #8).
We have taken the inputs of the 2017 participants and enriched the program by adding several days in Beijing, the cultural (as well as administrative) capital of China. I am very excited to share with OSU students such exciting destinations that resonate in my personal life and business career and, hopefully, will prove an equally memorable event in yours. While my longevity does not quite reach back to the era of Marco Polo, I continue to view the country with a similar sense of wonder.
If you are interested in international business, cultural uniqueness, or history, this trip will allow you to explore an emerging country that increasingly shapes the world’s political and economic landscape. Please join us for Fisher’s second undergraduate program in China, a two week exposure to business, politics, culture and even a great deal of fun.
Jumping into a new country and culture on the Student Exchange Program, Talia Bhaiji shares her first experiences of struggles and inspiring interactions, starting her life in Thailand.
My name is Talia Bhaiji and I’m a rising junior at OSU studying Finance. I’m studying abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, and I’ve been here for about 2 full days now. Just a little background about me: I’m from Strongsville, OH, raised in a biracial Asian family, and have had the opportunity to travel quite a lot growing up. I knew I wanted to study abroad, and after being here for 2 days I know there is absolutely no way I’m regretting this decision.
For starters, I have to say I did a lot of preparation for this trip. Months of planning went into my packing list, things I was going to buy, and every little detail of the trip. I know it may seem tempting to not over plan and go with the flow, and I agree that is a natural part of traveling, but I made sure to have all large logistics down and that certainly fared me well when things did not go as planned. My flight over was very rough and I did not find the travel experience very pleasant. It took me a total of 28 hours to travel from Cleveland to Bangkok, and while it was cool to go through 4 time zones (East, Central, South Korean, and Bangkok time) it was definitely hard on my body. I had to carry quite a lot in my carry on as I ended my suitcase at 49.5 lbs before my flight. It was hard on my back and irritating to lug things around in so many airports, so I would definitely just suggest bringing very minimal and lightweight things. I honestly only ended up using my phone for music and then after that, I watched movies on the long flight (they were included), so I didn’t need all the things I brought. The flight over will be very rough as you’re changing time zones frequently and traveling 28 hours is really difficult. Make sure to book your flight in advance (3 months at least) and give yourself enough time for your connections. Also bring things to do and bring sleeping pills! You will thank yourself later when you can’t sleep on the flight (I can guarantee it).
My time in the airport was a bit difficult with the language barriers. I think the population of people who speak English in Thailand was a bit overstated, and I’ve found that probably about 10% of the people here speak it (at least that I’ve met). The positive is that it has really encouraged me to get immersed in the language and communicate in Thai rather than solely relying on English. I’ve just got my sim card and Google has been such a lifesaver for translating and maps as well. I also was able to transfer money, use my Charles Schwab accounts and my debit card, get acquainted in my room, and finally get on board with the time change, and registered for classes, so I finally feel as if I’m getting into a schedule, which is always a welcome feeling.
Side note: I cannot recommend using Charles Schwab enough when it comes to banking. They have no international fees, not ATM fees, and that is a huge deal. Thailand is a cash based country as is all of Asia, so you will be withdrawing money frequently and every single time you withdraw it is a $9 fee. Charles Schwab rebates all that money at the end of the month, so you’re getting a lot of money back. Also, you can take money out worldwide for free, meaning that if you forget to convert money before you go to Cambodia, you can get money out at any ATM in Cambodia and pay no fees for it as well. It has been a lifesaver and has made my friends here very jealous 🙂 I also end up booking a lot of things because my credit card is the only one accepted.
The people here are truly amazing. Not only are the Thai people absolute so sweet (The Land of Smiles!), but the exchange students are wholesome and wonderful and honestly some of the most amazing people I’ve met. I know it sounds weird that I’ve been here for 2 days and know these people well, but when you’re lost in a foreign country and you are stuck with people, you tend to bond very quickly. I also get the opportunity to ask them questions that I never would have thought about. I’ve been able to ask my German friends about WWII and how they’re taught history, and we talk about the French about the recent election, and they always ask us about the election in the US as well. Now’s the time that I get to speak to people involved in these issues and living in these countries, so the view from a local is really cool.
I already know in 5 months it’s going to break my heart to leave. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet people from Paris, London, Lithuania, Switzerland, Japan, Texas, California, Italy, Germany and they’re all so amazing. The commonality is that everyone is adventurous, chose to be here, and all worked hard to get to this point. There’s an excitement and a drive in everyone to make the most of their time. Something else to remember is that everyone went abroad to meet new people, so they’re genuinely interested in getting to know you. I think that’s so different in the states, especially at Ohio State because we do have so many people from the same geographic region, so it is a different experience. I find myself having amazing conversations about the logistics of the United States versus other countries. We talk about people’s daily lives, so what kind of transportation do they take to school, how do their universities work, what are OSU football games like (all the time!), what do they do after school, what are their families like, what are their classes like, etc. I know that college in Europe is a very different experience; it’s more of a means to an end than an exciting experience. In the US it’s viewed as a privilege and as the “best four years of your life” or as some kind of experience, but I think that may be because we pay for it versus other countries where it’s given as a right to many people. It’s really cool to see what people think of the US and the way that our countries interact. I am so excited to have the opportunity to learn about everyone’s cultures and what their homes are like.
I will be updating soon on how my time here is going. I already know it’s going to be amazing, and I cannot wait for all the upcoming adventures. I’d like to thank everyone for the financial and academic opportunities that got me here and I am so looking forward to all the adventures ahead!
From anxiety, discovery, to excitement, John Xu shares his emotionally enlightening journey of studying abroad on the Student Exchange Program to Hong Kong Science and Technology, Hong Kong.
Studying abroad for a semester in Hong Kong was not only the best decision I’ve made in college, it was the best decision I’ve made in LIFE. I remember when I first decided I was going to commit to a semester abroad, I almost wasn’t able to because I signed up too late. Every week that led up to leaving the country I’d get more anxious, just because of the fact that I’d never spent an extended amount of time out of the country. I knew I was pushing my comfort zone and that it would help broaden my horizons on a global scale and give me more diverse career opportunities, but it was still nerve wrecking anticipating the process I was going to put myself through.
However, as soon as I stepped off the plane in Hong Kong and hopped into a taxi to my university, I realized I had made a great decision. From the moment you arrive, you begin to realize the difference in culture and environment of the country you’re studying abroad in compared to back home. Those difference were exciting for me; from the food to the city life, to the university environment, everything I did was exciting because it felt so fresh and unique. It seemed like every other day I was experiencing a “once in a lifetime” moment that I had to document and cherish to the fullest extent. I was able to extend these moments by traveling to 7 other countries in Southeast Asia during my semester, allowing me to experience the differences in all of the Asian cultures. By the end of the semester, I had made friends with so many people all around the world who had also chosen to study abroad and gained not only the perspectives of people in Hong Kong but everywhere around the world. I truly feel like I built something special with the group of people I became friends with there and that we would always stay in touch.
Coming back home, I realized how much I had changed and grown as a person. I now feel confident in myself to tackle problems ahead of me and create unique solutions to tasks at hand (I backpacked across 9 cities in Thailand and Myanmar for 17 days straight!!). Before leaving for Hong Kong I couldn’t have even dreamed of doing such a thing. Returning from abroad I feel a deeper appreciation for the comforts of life that America provides and I’m thankful for things that I had always took for granted in my daily life. Biggest of all, I’m happy that I now have a global attitude for my career after college, my goal is to be able to make a difference in the people and places, not just around me but in the world. I’m already planning out my next trip abroad, and I can’t wait for you to get started on your journey too. Don’t pass up the opportunity to make the best decision of your life!
Global Business Expedition participant Allen Jones gives his reasons for visiting Israel during his time as a Working Professional MBA at Fisher College of Business.
Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about traveling to Israel. I was considerably older than most of my WPMBA classmates. I have a wife and three children who, at the time, were 13, 12, and 10, and I have a full-time law practice. And, of course, the State Department had issued travel warnings to U.S. citizens for portions of Israel. Nevertheless, I was driven by the missed opportunities of my college years, and off to Israel I traveled over the 2016 Spring Break. Let me share three reasons why I think you should participate in Innovation Israel too.
Go to Israel because the business climate is innovative and learner friendly.
I landed in Israel on a Saturday afternoon (the Jewish Sabbath), and we left for our first business meeting the following morning. We met with two companies each day from Sunday through Thursday. That may sound a little daunting, but consider the value of the opportunity to meet with company executives who, for the most part, were candid and open to answering questions about strategy, competition, marketing, intellectual property, etc. Many of the executives with whom we met did not even bristle at being challenged by our questions. My favorite example is a company called Somatix that uses data collected from wearables to help smokers quit. We raised a number of challenges related to data collection, privacy, and user rebellion that the CEO very calmly considered and addressed. The business experience alone was worthwhile.
Go to Israel because the culture is stimulating.
To my surprise, Israel was very western. Every Israeli I encountered at hotels, shops, restaurants, and bars, smoothly and happily transitioned to English. I never felt remotely unsafe in Israel too, despite the fact that our media often sadly portrays Israel as a war zone. You might be surprised to learn that Jews and Muslims live and work with one another peacefully every day in Israel. We also enjoyed a highly educational Shabbat dinner with a young Jewish family during our visit, and lunched one afternoon in a Druze village on Mt. Carmel. The Dead Sea was neat too, but do not feel bad if you decline the urgings of your classmates to enter the sea and cover yourself in its slimy mud – I didn’t. The highlight for me, as a person of faith, was our tour of the Old City of Jerusalem. However, even if you are not a person of faith, the rich history and significance of Jerusalem is overwhelming.
Go to Israel because it is a visually stunning country.
The Mediterranean Sea and coast are absolutely beautiful. The Israeli-invented drip irrigation systems have turned barren desert into lush fields of agricultural products. The view of the Mediterranean from the ridge of Mt. Carmel while looking down over Haifa is breathtaking. Every bus ride was an optical adventure. Oh, and I almost forgot, the food is amazing.
Do not let your graduate school experience end without a trip to Israel. Take advantage of the opportunity now and get academic credit in the process. Experience business in another culture; intimately experience another culture; experience beauty in another part of the world; and get to know some of your classmates better in the process. Don’t wait – Go now!
Samir Mohan, a graduating Working Professional MBA, reflects on cultural history and modern business during his time as a participant in Global Business Expedition: Israel.
“Wait, Samir, you’re going where?! Israel?!? What for? But isn’t it… dangerous…? Is Ohio State making you do that to get your MBA? No? Well, what do you hope to learn there?”
I wanted to learn how it is possible for a country less than half a century old and roughly the size of New Jersey to, despite all odds, thrive in a global economic context and at the same time presume to teach Americans the meaning of ‘audacity’.” Still, I found it equally true—and easier to explain—that I wanted to challenge myself and blend my central Ohio education with a true World View of business.
My trip to Israel was as revelatory as it was astounding. Truthfully, I had never paid much attention to happenings in the Middle East because of the stark cultural and geographic divide between our climes. My decision to go on the Global Business Expedition to Israel was partly a leap of faith—“do something extraordinary before you graduate”—and partly because it aligned perfectly with my professional aspirations in innovation and technology. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to ask “how” and “why” to leaders of multi-billion dollar firms, as well as entrepreneurs not much older than myself at red hot startups.
Each day we woke up early to attend early business meetings in virtually every corner of the country, and each night we stayed up late to experience Israeli nightlife. We visited places and touched things whose names are capitalized in holy texts. We pressed our tour guide and Professor Shenkar to explain the at times exasperating inconsistencies between cultural factions in the region. Why do they mask Made in Israel labels? Why are parts of the country so segregated along ethnic and religious lines? What are the Gaza Strip and the Iron Dome? Indeed, I experienced first-hand the extreme emphasis on security; however, it did not take long for the sight of armed guards to become “the new normal” for most of our group.
I could at once see a platoon of hardy female IDF soldiers guarding Jerusalem’s Dung Gate and a group of Hasidic Jews rocking back and forth in kinetic prayer at the Wailing Wall. We toured the construction site of a state-of-the-art public and private sector research megaplex in the Negev Desert, and peered through smoked glass as lasers cut medical stents with micrometer precision in Jerusalem. An Israeli VC’s CEO described his firm’s multi-million dollar investments in Israeli startups over the past decades as I ogled his achingly beautiful wristwatch and wondered if I had some semblance of his chutzpah—audacity.
I travelled 7000 miles from home armed only with an open mind and a handful of case analyses on companies in the Startup Nation. What I observed there and ruminated on while floating on my back in the Dead Sea at the end of the trip, was Israel’s incomparable duality of worldwide cultural historical significance and modern day business relevance.
Marketing Global Lab 2016 in Singapore. FCOB undergraduates Lauren Barry, Devin Horton, Shelby Smith, Mack Watts, and MBA mentor Paul Webb explain their project deliverable for DHL Supply Chain.
Entering Singapore, our team was tasked by DHL Supply Chain to research the manufacturing opportunity that was being created by the newly formed ASEAN Economic Community and how DHL may be able to capitalize on that opportunity. After seven weeks of thorough research, our team was ready to provide our progressive recommendations that we found.
Going into Tuesday, the team was ready to go. We had spent the previous night rehearsing and felt confident in our preparation. Upon waking up, we all met downstairs to have a team breakfast and present one last time in front of Dr. Matta to gain his seal of confidence prior to getting in front of DHL’s executives. We were relaxed and had pep in our step as we rode the bus out to DHL’s office.
Upon arrival, we were thrilled to find that we would be presenting in the newly built, Asia Pacific Innovation Center, a space that DHL uses as a think tank and community center for its thriving business partners. The center was one of the coolest places that any of us have ever been, and what followed was nothing short of exciting.
Ross Ballantyne, the head of marketing of the Asia Pacific region at DHL, took the floor and set the stage for the whole morning. After DHL’s presentation, our team took the stage and spoke to both Ross and his colleague Nidhi. Shelby and Lauren started the presentation with a bang, allowing Devin and Mack to finish with progressive recommendations for DHL to take going forward into the development of the AEC. This experience provided team DHL with an amazing opportunity to showcase what we learned in professor Matta’s class and apply it to a real business solution.
Marketing Global Lab 2016 in Singapore. FCOB undergraduates Alexis Lambos, Olivia Chancellor, Max Olberding, Andy Landaverde, and MBA mentor Elena Pipino recount the morning they presented to Wendy’s executives.
Our fourth day of Singapore began by waking up slightly earlier than the other teams to begin final preparation for our presentation to the Wendy’s Asia Pacific team. We were all a little nervous but also so excited because we had spent the last three months working hard on the project.
We all boarded the bus and arrived at the meeting location—the American Club in Singapore.
The Wendy’s team welcomed us with a warm greeting. John Pain, the VP & Managing Director for Asia Pacific & EMEA, and his team began by introducing themselves and sharing more about their roles within the company. John continued by presenting insights about the Asian consumers and how Wendy’s has been able to successfully adapt the brand within this market.
After John’s presentation we took a brief break and then set up our PowerPoint.
We shared with the Wendy’s team research and recommendations that we had collected over the last few months, specifically regarding the way better burger chains could threaten Wendy’s in the Asian market. While the project was challenging, the experience of presenting to John and his team and hearing their positive feedback was extremely rewarding. After we concluded our presentation, we had a bit of free time to mingle and network with the Wendy’s team.
Marketing Global Lab 2016 in Singapore. FCOB undergraduates Cory Bonda, Kyle Hubbard, Amelia Gulick, and MBA mentor Lindsey Durham describe what it means to have time with multiple top-tier marketing executives at Johnson & Johnson.
Thursday morning was the visit to Johnson & Johnson’s Asia Pacific headquarters. We presented a project on Acuvue define contact lenses to multiple top-tier executives. They provided great feedback on our presentation and asked quite a few questions to gain more insight and detail on our ideas. This discussion was actually held with the president of the Acuvue brand in the Asia Pacific, who was very impressed and engaged with our work.
Due to other obligations and a busy schedule, he only had 20 minutes to hear us present but chose to stay for over an hour to finish the conversation and then share his personal background with us all in a Q&A session. It was also encouraging that some of the executives actually followed up with our group members during an intermission to gain more insight on our thoughts and ideas.
The feeling of being engaged with top professionals in a company like J&J was intimidating and exciting simultaneously; even better was how genuinely interested and impressed they were with our ideas. The weight off of our shoulders when the whole thing was done was phenomenal. To finally cross the finish line for the project we’d spent so much time and effort, so many ups and downs and turnarounds, on left huge smiles plastered on our face for the rest of the day.
Through the Global Applied Program (GAP), I had the wonderful opportunity to visit China for the first time in my life. And as mentioned in my cultural blog, I planned to take this opportunity to learn both the cultural and the business environment of China. I was part of the marketing team of the project. And on this blog I am going to share and reflect on the experience our team had while we were trying to conduct consumer survey in order to learn more about the customer decision making process.
Malls/Supermarkets – Talking to the Sales Representatives
As part of the project, we planned to conduct in depth interviews with our target consumer to understand more about the consumer’s decision making process. Our first step was to gather some basic product information and currents trends in the market by talking to the sales representative at the malls. But contrary to expectation, the sales representatives were not very open in sharing information with us when we approached them as students. Therefore, we immediately changed our strategy and tried the role play of a young American businessperson looking to purchase an air purifier for his office with the Chinese student acting as his assistant helping him understand the different models and standards of the purifiers. Although this strategy helped us with the sales reps in understanding the different products in the market, surprisingly the sales representatives would not allow us to take pictures in the stores. Instead, we had to discreetly take pictures. Above are some of the picture that we took while in the stores.
Malls/Supermarkets – Talking to the Consumers
After being somewhat successful in talking with the sales representative, we decided to try our luck with some of the consumers shopping in the malls and supermarkets. From my perspective, talking to these customers was the single biggest hurdle we faced during the entire project. To give an idea of how challenging it was to talk to a consumer, we visited a total of five malls/supermarkets and approached nearly 40-50 people. Only three of them responded to us, and all three were non-Chinese residents currently living in China.
WeChat – the Savior
In the end, the only way we successfully gathered data on consumer behavior was through passing our survey on WeChat.