A student’s experience on the 2012 International Management Experience trip to Asia
October 19, 2012
The 12th annual International Management Experience (IME) trip to Asia brought 19 full and part-time MBA students to Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo this past May, including MBA Evening student Nathan Richman. Led by Carroll School Lecturer Gregory L. Stoller, Nathan and his peers visited 12 corporations and also participated in three alumni events during their two week stay.
At their first stop in Shanghai, Nathan was struck by his initial reaction. “I’m not sure what I was expecting from the opposite side of the world, but had there not been signs with Chinese characters, I would have thought we were still in the States,” he said.
Throughout the trip, however, he would discover a plethora of new experiences. He recalled a side trip to Suzhou, China, in particular as a day filled with new sights and perspective. “Our first stop was a factory, where we learned about silk and saw how the finished products were made. Later, we went to a beautiful garden in the courtyard of a house several generations old. It was relaxing to stroll through, and sit on the garden’s rocks, in what was our first sunny day. Then we took a boat ride through a part of Suzhou called the Venice of China, where the homes sit next to the water,” he recalled.
The relaxing moment in the garden was no doubt a welcome respite in the midst of the hectic IME schedule, which is always jam-packed with visits, country briefings and alumni briefings. The group managed to visit 12 corporations, including Hong Kong Disney, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, State Street Global Advisors Hong Kong, and the Thai Asahi Glass Company. According to Nathan, his favorite visit was to PepsiCo in Shanghai. “We met with the Asian Chairman. It was fascinating how they had overcome adversity and successfully employed creativity selling and advertising. For example, PepsiCo initially introduced its Lays potato chips with flavors Americans like: Plain, Barbeque, Sour Cream and Onion. But, the Chinese were unfamiliar with these tastes, and didn’t like them. Most of them flopped. PepsiCo had to adjust, and develop different, local flavors: Cool Cucumber, Cheesy Lobster, and Seafood. This was one of many, first-hand examples of the same company needing completely different business approaches and sales techniques overseas.”
Upon returning home from the fast-paced trip, Nathan was able to reflect on his experience: “My hope for IME was to discover great cultural experiences. Through our business meetings, sightseeing, food and classmate conversations, I certainly accomplished this goal, and more,” he remarked. “Shanghai was the best cultural experience, Hong Kong the most beautiful, and if I had to pick one to live in, it would be Tokyo.”