Category Archives: Faculty Go Abroad

Generosity of women leaders in India

Guest blog post by Cate Goethals, UW Foster School of Business lecturer

Women Leadership Trip - India 2010I first noticed it on the plane before I even reached Mumbai when I sat next to a woman who owned a handicraft business. I told her I was bringing a group of 22 students to India. “Come to my home,” she said. “Let me cook for you.” Her sister-in-law, who ran a different business, came to sit in our row. “Please let me host your group,” she said.

University of Washington students and I (their faculty trip organizer) had set out to study women’s leadership in India. I expected the accomplished women we met to be powerful, visionary, confident, charismatic, any number of traits. What I had not anticipated was generosity.  Extreme generosity. The more responsibility someone had, the more time and attention and respect they gave us.  Some more examples:

  • Rohini Nilekani, who runs a multimillion-dollar foundation in Bangalore and is known as “the Melinda Gates of India,” spoke to us and then had to go to a meeting.  After the meeting, she returned and gave us another hour of her time.  Half of that was spent asking us for our ideas.
  • Poorvi Chothani, well-known attorney often seen on Mumbai TV, not only agreed to brief my group on women and the law in India – but went on to spend many more hours organizing a special session of the Ladies Wing (!) of the Mumbai Merchants Chamber to gather dozens of women in our honor. She turned what could have been a personal platform into an exchange of ideas.
  • Veena Mankar, leading banker and co-founder of microfinance institution Swadhaar, had to cancel our visit to go to a funeral. She then rearranged her schedule and spent more than an hour driving across Mumbai to meet with us at our hotel early one morning. “Young people have the best ideas,” she told me. “I talk to them whenever I can.”
  • Amma, “the hugging saint” and most well-known female spiritual guru in the world, heard that we were rushed through our first session with her. Although she hugged thousands of other people that day, she invited us for a second session, asked that we sit at her feet and personally answered our questions about women’s leadership. Then she asked her swami to give us back the money we paid to stay at her ashram. “Students should have pocket money,” she said.
  • Women of the world-famous Self Employed Women’s Association greeted each of us several times with a personal flower, a special bindi (red dot pressed with rice on our foreheads to nourish our spirits) and a bit of sugar to eat.

I was struck by this generosity on nearly every visit.  It may be part of Indian culture, it may be related to gender, it may be a function of the exceptional people we saw.  In any case, it is an overlooked and undervalued leadership trait – and one that is infectious, making the students and I want to give back…and give elsewhere…and do it again, creating new cycles of generosity even now that we’re home.  The ripples are still being felt.

Cate Goethals, University of Washington Foster School of Business lecturer and Seattle consultant, leads global business seminars and study trips focused on women and international business. She has taught at the UW Foster School for more than 20 years—including a class called “Women at the Top” that was named one of the 10 most innovative MBA classes in the country by Forbes in 2010.

The India exploration seminar abroad, called Half the Sky: Women Leaders and Entrepreneurs, included 22 graduate and undergraduate students.

Dean travels to Asia to expand global business leadership

Traveling abroad may sound exotic, but this one-week, December trip was all work, no play. Despite spending nearly 50 hours at airports and inside airplanes, the experience in Asia was exhilarating.

Beijing, China

We began in Beijing visiting some of the largest banks in China—including Bank of China, China Minsheng Bank, Industrial Commercial Bank of China, and Agricultural Bank of China. Leveraging contacts from the University of Washington Foster School Advisory Board, these meetings led to renewed support of Executive Education programs for global leadership development.

 

CIMG0470Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

In Taipei, Dean Jim Jiambalvo gave a keynote presentation titled “Five Keys to Sustained Innovation” to 250 business and government leaders of Taiwan as well as alumni of the joint program between Foster’s Executive Education and National Chengchi University. We also met with one of our distinguished alumni, Mr. Leslie Koo (BA 1977), chairman and CEO of Taiwan Cement. Mr. Koo continues to stay engaged with the Foster School and recently accepted an invitation to join Foster’s advisory board and donated to the School with a naming gift for a new computer lab in Paccar Hall (opening fall 2010).

Photo: Foster School Dean Jiambalvo and Associate Dean Dan Turner

CIMG0407Seoul, South Korea

In Seoul, the Foster School has strong ties with businesses, government, and universities, in part, because of the active involvement of our long-standing University of Washington Alumni Association. Of the 600 UW alumni in Korea, 130 are Foster School of Business alumni. We have continued to stay connected with the Korean business community and these relationships have led to children of UW alumni becoming Foster alumni, financial support to both the UW and Foster School, research connections for Foster faculty, and new partnerships in Executive Education.

Photo: Korean alumni and government leaders with Dean Jiambalvo (second from left) and Jean Choy (far right)

The Foster School is committed to expanding our global ties, especially in Asia. Key leaders of Foster travel on a regular basis to cultivate existing and new business partnerships. Over the years, these efforts have resulted in significant financial investments in education to support Foster students and faculty, as well as connections with influential leaders around the globe.

By Jean Choy, assistant dean of executive education and international initiatives at UW Foster School of Business

Software and hutongs and buses, oh my

IMG_0178Today was a really packed, informative day.  We started out with a presentation by Francis Zhang and Johnson Chen of F5 Networks, a company that has found significant success in the Chinese market by entering relatively early (2001) and being patient and consistent.  We then hopped on our bus with our guide Elaine and visited the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing, a large and impressive compound designed by a world-reknowned architect and filled with incredible works of art.  We spoke with press officers, commercial officers, and economic officers; the sheer complexity of the environment in which they are operating was eye-opening.  As we toured around the lobby area to see the art collection, we passed by Jon Huntsman, the new U.S. ambassador to China, who just came to Beijing in August.

After an enormous lunch at a Belgian restaurant called Morel’s, we visited Microsoft’s new offices just northeast of the city center.   Mr. Fengming Liu, a UW Law alum, gave us an illuminating presentation on their intellectual property challenges since entering China in 1992.  For example, Windows 7 is set to launch in late October of this year, and they have already found versions of the software online, as well as the security key (removed now, so no need to go looking for it, you pirate).  The sheer size of the Chinese market is difficult to imagine, but we’re definitely getting a better idea after hearing from these companies and organizations.  (An additional special guest at the meeting was Felix Liu, just about to start his senior year at the Foster School of Business; it seems like everywhere we go, more Huskies appear).

After the MS visit, Elaine took us to the lovely Houhai Lake area, which is surrounded with “hutongs,” narrow traditional alleyways with low multi-family houses surrounding small courtyards.  We took a rickshaw tour of the area, and had the opportunity to visit a hutong compound that is currently occupied by 26 members of the same family, five brothers and their wives and children (one per family).

After all this activity, we were hungry and ready to explore the Wangfujing area and try some Beijing street food.  We struck out on foot only to find that, due to the rehearsal for the 60th Anniversary celebrations, all the streets were closed off and filled with military equipment and buses full of children in matching dance costumes.  Huge military vehicles rumbled by with what appeared to be large missiles draped in canvas, and a nearly endless line of buses headed towards  Tian’anmen Square.  Every store and restaurant on the street was closed and will remain so all night.  After a bit of exploring, we found a restaurant (all on our own, without Elaine or Ming, who speaks Mandarin), and enjoyed a wonderful meal for about $5 each.

The working portion of the trip has come to an end.  We’ve learned a lot, and we’ll surely be processing it for some time to come.  Tomorrow, we will visit the Great Wall, and since I scheduled nearly no time at all for shopping, hit some markets in the afternoon.  It’s supposed to be rainy, but hey, we’re from Seattle.  After a farewell dinner together, we’ll be off on our various flights home on Sunday, after what I believe to be a successful pilot faculty study trip.

Posted by Krista Peterson, Associate Director, Global Business Center

New China turns 60

DSCN1268Yesterday, we walked across a Tian’anmen Square that was bustling with preparations for New China’s 60th anniversary celebration, just over a week away.  On October 1, the Square will fill with military, government, and citizenry to recognize this auspicious occasion, complete with an address by President Hu.  Huge video screens are being erected, bleachers established for VIP viewing of the celebrations, and huge red painted columns installed on both the east and west sides.  As Beijing pulled out all the stops for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the mood in the Square suggests a similar energy is being given to celebrate China’s progress since 1949.  Now that we’ve seen what’s being done to prepare, we’ll have to tune in on TV or online on September 30 to see the result of all this effort.

Posted by Krista Peterson, Associate Director, Global Business Center

I don’t know what it is, but it’s really good

And this is just the appetizer course!
And this is just the appetizer course!

Speaking for myself, as an amateur foodie of sorts, I came to China with a pretty good idea that my idea of “Chinese food” was quite limited.  Fortunate as we are in Seattle to have a wealth of options in regard to international fare, I can now quite confidently say that we are missing out.  It’s cliché, but true:  to better grasp the breadth and variety of Chinese cuisine, you’re going to have to visit China yourself.

Given the short duration of our visit, we have not been able to follow Anthony Bourdain’s footsteps down any back alleys or deep into a market to try what is surely delectable street food.  However, we have had the good fortune of excellent guides Jennifer (Shanghai) and Elaine (Beijing), who have directed us to an assortment of very satisfying restaurants, as well as an outstanding banquet I mentioned before that was hosted by our partners at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

It was not a requirement to join the study trip, but everyone in the group is a pretty adventurous eater.  Sitting at a large round table over lunch or dinner, chopsticks in hand, curious questions pepper the conversation:  Is it a kind of potato? What is in that sauce? Is that fish?  Things are familiar in texture or taste, but we can’t quite identify them.  Ming and our guide taste, discuss, and don’t have an English equivalent for this vegetable or that seasoning.  Though there is always too much food, everyone tries just about everything on the table, passing one another the dishes identified as favorites:  “try this, it might be jicama or a yam”, “no, that’s not beef, I think it’s eggplant,” “these shrimp are so tender, who’s going to eat the last one?” 

We have an opportunity to strike out on our own for dinner tonight.  I’m not sure what we’ll find, but I’m sure it will be delicious!

Side note:  the faculty members on this trip are more than willing to submit blog entries, but we didn’t allow for a lot of free time in our daily schedules, and most of us are nearly asleep in our soup at the end of our long days.  I hope they will be able to contribute their thoughts once we get back to Seattle. 

Posted by Krista Peterson, Associate Director, Global Business Center

 

Shanghai now

With the hustle and bustle of Shanghai’s preparation for next year’s World Expo, the pace of building and improvement here is even more extreme than we thought.  Driving around the city, which we crossed twice yesterday in almost its full width, we saw the spectrum of massive construction projects, from the Expo Center partly finished, to former housing complexes flattened and awaiting their high-rises.

Our visit to Shanghai was short.  We met with the US Commercial Service and Weyerhaeuser on Monday, Tektronix and Ingersoll-Rand on Tuesday.  In many cases, the message was there that the economic slowdown has affected business in China overall, but that companies are still doing well and anticipating improvement over the next few quarters.  All three major companies gave us insight into their operations as well as their intentions, which Foster MBAs will appreciate are “green” and concerned with environmental impact on all fronts.  Innovation is another common  area and it was exciting to see the new ideas and thought processes coming out of these different types of organizations.

For lunch on Tuesday, we were hosted to a lavish banquet by the School of Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.  For each of our faculty, they brought one in the same or similar discipline, and lively conversation ensued over the 18-course meal.  Photos to follow.

Postscript:  The three of us delayed in travel by over a day still do not have our luggage.  We’re leaving in three hours for Beijing.  This is getting more interesting every day, and I will admit a bit frustrating as we each had one change of clothes with us, but it does encapsulate the other side of international travel:  language barrier, cultural expectations, adapting in a new environment, and managing without a lot of the comforts of home.  “That which does not kill you makes you stronger,” I believe the sentiment goes, and despite my umptieth day in this pink hoodie, I’m looking forward to what awaits us in Beijing.

Posted by Krista Peterson, Associate Director, Global Business Center

The show must go on

Finance professor Jarrad Harford is all smiles, as he was able to stretch his meal voucher investment to include a hamburger AND a chocolate treat.
Finance professor Jarrad Harford is all smiles, as he was able to stretch his meal voucher investment to include a hamburger AND a chocolate treat.

Oh, the glamor of international travel.  I’m writing this from my home on Saturday night, when I should be just about landing in Tokyo.  Seems that something was a little bit wrong with the plane that three of the eight of us were supposed to be on.  Every half-hour or so from the original boarding time, there was another hour or two delay, until finally, eight hours later, the flight was cancelled.  Better not to fly if the plane’s not in good working order, right?

Happily, technology enabled me to contact everyone and let them know we’d be on a new flight tomorrow.  The three of us will miss a day of content, which is a bit of a bummer, but the show will go on and the other faculty who have arrived safely in Shanghai will go forth and learn from two presentations and one company visit, as planned.

Posted by Krista Peterson, Associate Director, Global Business Center