Category Archives: Global Business

Womenomics in Japan: a discussion on women in leadership

Guest post by Mika Shimazu, Foster undergraduate and Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) student

Mika ShimazuOn August 6, I attended a lunch discussion at Perkins Coie on the topic of Womenomics in Japan. This event, launched by the U.S. Japan Council, is part of the new networking series funded by the Embassy of Japan to foster conversations relating to women’s leadership in Japan. As a member of the CISB Japanese Track and a female considering jobs in Japan, I found this topic to be an optimal opportunity to familiarize myself with the current situation.

The main question for discussion was “what is the current situation of women in the business world in Japan, and how can we encourage more women to remain in the workplace?”

Since elected in December 2012, Prime Minister Abe has worked to stimulate the Japanese economy through his economic policy, Abenomics. As a developed country with an aging population and decreasing birth rate, Japan will soon face a shortage of workers. Womenomics is part of Abenomic’s third arrow, structural reform.

Through group discussions we acknowledged that Japan has a skilled, educated population of women in the workplace. However, these women often quit their jobs after having children and many who remain often do not bear children. Although the government is making reforms in policies and increasing facilities to support mothers, we agreed that there was a tremendous cultural barrier to this issue. In Japan, it is the norm for women to be housewives, taking care of the family and chores, while the men work and provide for the family. In addition, there is a norm to “raise your own children,” and hiring babysitters and nannies is often looked down upon. Moreover, in this aging population, women may be in the middle of taking care of their children as well as looking after their elderly family members.

Observing the current situation, we concluded that the cultural barrier will be the significant struggle for Japan. Some suggested to start making cultural changes in smaller and more innovative companies, such as start-ups, IT companies, and non-profits. Others proposed allowing the couples to decide how to distribute their paid leaves between the mother and the father. Although the solution is still unclear, we were able to promote awareness and encourage conversations about the future of women in the Japanese business world.

Chen recognized for career contribution to Chinese management research

Xiaoping photo 2Xiao-Ping Chen, a professor of management and the Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair in Business Administration at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, has received the 2016 Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award from the International Association for Chinese Management Research (IACMR).

The IACMR is the premier scholarly association dedicated to the creation and dissemination of management knowledge with a focus on China.

“Professor Chen has devoted much of her career to the study of Chinese management and has made significant contributions to the field in theory, methodology and in explaining the workings of Chinese organizations,” says the IACMR in a statement. “She also has made contributions to the progress in Chinese management research and enhanced the visibility of the Chinese management research in the global research community, advanced the field, and blazed a path for future researchers.”

International trailblazer

The Chinese-born Chen is a founding member, long-term associate and past president of the IACMR.

As editor of the influential Chinese/English bilingual magazine Management Insights, she has interviewed the most prominent CEOs and founders of top Chinese companies, among them Jack Ma of Alibaba, Wang Shi of Vanke, Ma Weihua of China Merchant Bank, and Liang Xinjun of Fosun Group.

In addition to more than 50 scholarly publications in English, Chen is the author of eight Chinese books: Managing Across Cultures; Empirical Methods in Organization and Management Research; Solving Social Dilemmas: Psychological Mechanisms of Cooperation Induction; The Art of Balancing Work and Life; In Pursuit of Happiness; Simplifying Renqin; Still Seeing Mountains; and Follow Your Heart.

Cross-cultural excellence

Since joining the Foster faculty in 1999, Chen has been recognized with numerous awards for teaching, research and leadership, including the Andrew Smith Faculty Development Award, the Outstanding University of Washington Woman Award, the Dean’s International Research Award, the Charles E. Summer Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Outstanding PhD Mentor Award.

Chen is editor-in-chief of the premier journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Earlier this year she was named a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Her research explores cross-cultural management, entrepreneurial passion, leadership and creativity, and Chinese guanxi, the personalized networks of influence that are so central to the culture and commerce of her home nation.

Recent publications include findings that:

Chen is one of only nine scholars to be honored with the Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award in the past 10 years. She will receive the award at the 2016 IACMR conference in her hometown of Hangzhou, China.

U.S. Ambassador to Singapore shares insights about ASEAN and global business

Ambassador“Our country is positioned to be the center of global business for the next 100 years,” said U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, Kirk Wagar, at a lunch with Foster School students and faculty on April 24th. He argues that 50% of the employees at U.S. businesses are global, and that the diversity in the U.S. has created and will sustain its tremendous success in business. At the lunch, the Ambassador shared his insights on global business, ASEAN, and Singapore.

He encouraged students around the table to consider studying abroad or working abroad in SE Asia. It is a vitally important region for business students to understand and engage with. Even comparing China and SE Asia, he argues that while China has a rising middle class, the demographics for business in SE Asia are much better. The population is younger, and ASEAN has also figured out that they either rise or sink together. Unlike Latin America, ASEAN understands the concept of shared economic prosperity.  ASEAN is lowering its tariffs and pushing to become a more connected region. There is great opportunity for business in ASEAN with over 620 million people in the region – that is one million more people than in the EU.

Student with US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar
EMBA student Vanesssa Zhang with US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar

Singapore sits in a unique position – India on one side and China on the other. It has the one of the largest port in the world, handling more than 30 million containers annually. Singapore is also incredibly multicultural, and it is home to more than 3600 U.S. businesses. A student asked why it is such an attractive location for foreign firms, and Ambassador Wagar responded that its business and regulatory environment is very friendly, it’s politically stable, English is widely spoken, and well, it is the only place in SE Asia where you can confidently drink tap water.

Foster Global Leadership Summit in photos

The UW Foster School of Business hosted a Global Leadership Summit in Taipei, Taiwan ROC on April 10, 2015. The purpose of the Summit was to host a high level forum in Taiwan in an effort to reach out to business leaders in the region and engage them in a meaningful dialogue on strategies in innovation and leadership. The Summit included presentations by Dean James Jiambalvo, Professors Michael Johnson and Matthew O’Donnell as well as panelists representing Chairmen and CEOs from Taiwan Cement Group, Chungwha Telecom, CTCI Group, Walsin Lihwa, Costco Taiwan, and The Boeing Company. Attendees were mostly from Taiwan, but also included participants who traveled from S. Korea, China, India, and the Philippines. See photos of the event below.

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GBCC student teams tackle solar energy

Foster School Team showing off their school spirit!
The Foster School team members Eric Zhu, Emmeline Vu, Morgan Bell-Smith, and Dinesvara  Airlangga show off their school spirit!

This Saturday, the Global Business Center hosted its 17th annual Global Business Case Competition (GBCC) – where twelve teams representing eight countries competed for the title of GBCC Champion.

Each of the undergraduate student teams spent 48 hours analyzing a business case on First Solar Inc.  In 2010, First Solar was the global leader in production of solar panels. However, by 2013, Chinese producers dominated the world market, helped by generous government subsidies.  First Solar was also challenged by falling prices for solar panels made with a competing technology.  First Solar responded by vertically integrating into the solar systems business, making the company a “one-stop shop” for utility customers.  First Solar’s sales have been concentrated in the US market, but they are exploring opportunities outside the US.  The GBCC student teams were tasked with identifying the external forces affecting First Solar’s business over the next five years and then prioritizing the non-US target markets.

Four teams were selected to move on to the final round: the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Florida State University, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Southern California.

GBCC 2015 Winning TeamOur final round judging panel commented that this was one of the most difficult and complex cases in the history of GBCC. In the end, the judges chose the Chinese University of Hong Kong as this year’s GBCC Champion.

We would like to acknowledge the hard work of our GBCC Student Leadership Team who spent countless hours organizing this event.

GBCC would not be possible without our major sponsors. A special thank you to The Boeing Company, Costco Wholesale, F5 Networks, Russell Investments, Starbucks Coffee International, and Wells Fargo for their generous support.

Global Business Case Competition exports inspiration around the world

GBCC-facesEvery year the Foster School’s Global Business Case Competition (GBCC) welcomes the world.

Bangladesh and Brazil. Egypt and Estonia. Israel and Italy. Jamaica and Japan. Korea and Kuwait. Pakistan and Peru. Serbia and Singapore. Uganda and the United Kingdom. In all, 52 nations have sent their best and brightest undergraduate business students to match wits in the GBCC since its 1999 launch.

Now this long-time importer of competitors is exporting inspiration.

Kindred competitions in Portugal, New Zealand, Belgium, Sudan and Colombia have been inspired by unforgettable GBCC experiences and informed by its best practices.

GBCC-Presentation2After Brendon Potter, student development and engagement manager at the University of Auckland Business School, brought a team to Seattle for its first international experience in 2004, he was moved to launch his school’s own champions league of case competitions. “Because of that invitation to the GBCC, we have established a significant case program of our own,” says Potter. “And it was the motivation to instigate our own Champions Trophy Case Competition in 2008, to which we’ve been delighted to welcome the Huskies on several occasions.”

Some 12,000 miles and a hemisphere away in Portugal, Renata Blanc de Melo had a similar response when she brought a team of students from the Universidade do Porto to the 2007 GBCC. The lecturer and senior consultant began drawing up plans to replicate the competitive and cultural experience and in 2013 launched the FEPUPORTO International Case Competition. “There is no case competition culture in Portugal, so being invited the first time was a departing point for us,” says Blanc. “And regarding our own competition, GBCC was undoubtedly a benchmark.”

This year, two former Foster students are instigating GBCC-style competitions to serve students in their respective corners of the world. Aysa Miller (BA 2004) and Nathan Bright (BA 2014) are both alumni of the Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB), Foster’s nationally-ranked specialty program that gives undergrads a competitive edge in global business through language immersion, study or work abroad, and practical experience.

Miller, the economic and deputy commercial officer at the US Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, has assembled a team of students representing three Sudanese universities to compete at this year’s GBCC. He’ll follow up with a local case competition hosted by the Ahfad University for Women—the first in the east African nation.

Bright, a teacher of international business, technology management and marketing at the Universidad de Manizales in Colombia, decided that a GBCC-style competition would benefit his students. To pull it off, he’s been working with Kathleen Hatch, assistant director of undergraduate programs at the Global Business Center.

GBCC-2014 winnersHatch offers open source guidance to Bright, Miller and any others seeking to replicate the life-changing experience that the GBCC annually delivers through its heady mix of company visits, social events, professional development, cultural exchange and rigorous competition to solve a real-world international business challenge.

She’s not surprised to see the competition’s effect rippling so far and wide.

“I think that GBCC has been an inspirational model to other business schools because it incorporates everything that is so critical to business education today—cross cultural communications, team work, and strategic thinking,” says Hatch. “It forces students to grapple with the complexities of doing business in today’s global landscape.”

Not to mention, it’s great fun.

This year’s Global Business Case Competition takes place April 13-18.

In Beijing, an internship worth yakking about

Guest post by Joyce Tang, Foster undergraduate and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

Joyce TangAt a recent Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) Alumni Panel, I heard a woman say she wished she had spent more time during her study abroad experience building a professional network, rather than only engaging with other students. I couldn’t agree more because I personally benefited from this decision while I was an exchange student at Peking University, the most prestigious higher learning institute in China.

After a meaningful summer internship in Shanghai, I knew I wanted to have more work experience while I was studying abroad. My resolve led me to find and accept an internship at a social enterprise called Khunu. This company produces premium yak wool apparel, while supporting the yak herders from whom the wool is sourced. With a great passion for social entrepreneurship and fashion, this was the perfect opportunity for me. Three days a week, I took a 45 minute commute—if I was lucky enough to squish my way onto the first subway that came during rush hour—to work and 45 minutes back to school.

During those three months, I learned things that turned my assumptions about China upside down. For example, I assumed most luxury fashion brands produced their products domestically to maintain quality and workmanship, but found out the factory we produced our apparel in was also used by a big name luxury label. It was also a lot smaller than I expected, as the picture in my head was of an enormous factory designed for mass production. Many people immediately think low quality when they hear the words manufacturing and China in the same sentence. However, this is not always the case. Khunu is one fashion label that is trying to redefine the “Made in China” tag.

What I learned at Khunu was reinforced at a panel discussion I recently attended on ethical sourcing, which was sponsored and organized by CISB and AIESEC. The vice presidents of global sourcing from Costco and Brooks Running Company spoke about the manufacturing, supplying, and operations practices of their respective companies. They emphasized the importance of setting a new market standard where businesses create value chains at every step of the process, rather than just supply chains. To accomplish this, the players at each stage of the chain—from cotton farmer to spinner to business to consumer—must demand and be provided fair compensation for the part they play. As I pursue a concentration and future career in operations and supply chain management, my experiences in CISB have played an invaluable part in helping me understand sustainable supply chains from both sides of the Pacific: Seattle and Beijing.

Designed for this international internship

Guest post by Joyce Tang, Foster undergraduate student and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

Joyce Tang
Joyce Tang

It’s never too early to start. That’s what I was thinking when I replied to a vague email about a summer internship opportunity abroad. After getting the internship, what ensued was the development of my skills as a professional designer, project manager of programmers, and an expert print shop price haggler. The first role I was able to experience from the comfort of my own room and the last two I did across the Pacific Ocean in China.

The company I interned at was a startup in Shanghai called Sino Society. The business specialized in international real estate marketing to wealthy Chinese home buyers. Real estate was never an industry I expected to be in, but the promise of getting to live and work in China for a summer sounded like an invaluable experience. With that in mind, I said yes to working remotely for seven months on a probationary basis. During this time, I conducted weekly conference calls that led to a greater understanding of the company’s business model, China’s consumer environment, and–to my delight–that I was capable of being a graphic designer.

Since junior high, I had taken up design as a hobby and almost majored in design, but chose to pursue business because I wanted the skills to build my own business. I figured the design projects would come later, but here I was at my first internship getting to do what I loved most. It seemed like no coincidence when I found out in a conference call that I was to start a project using Adobe Indesign during the same week I had taken an introductory course on the program through Odegaard Library’s free workshop resource. This initial assignment led to creating an entire series of business collateral used for sales pitches to our company’s international clients. My design was translated into Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Chinese. Without receiving extensive training, I was able to learn by doing real-work assignments and am now proficiently using the program.

At the end of May, my probationary period ended and the company asked me to come to Shanghai to continue for the summer. Contrary to what many might expect of startups, Sino Society provided my round trip ticket to Shanghai. Working in the heart of the city, I continued my marketing projects, but secretly wanted a hand in the technology side of things. My involvement in the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program built up my experience and fascination with the tech space. I asked my boss if I could take on more projects relating to the technology side of the business, which led me to being a project manager of Chinese programmers. After only one meeting, it became pretty clear there was a language barrier, so I gave myself the goal of learning the Chinese phrases for IT terms. Meanwhile, I was occasionally tasked with the grunt work of making print shop runs with the goal of lowering our cost for bulk print jobs. By the end of the summer, I had perfected things I always thought were my weaknesses: communicating about technical topics in Chinese and haggling with locals. And guess what? I’m still happily doing side design projects with Sino Society in my free time.

Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business and Lavin Entrepreneurship Program.

Reflections on the Japanese healthcare system

This post was written by Management Professor and Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking Executive Director Bruce Avolio.

Bruce AvolioMy trip to Japan this past week, brought me first to Kyoto, then to Osaka and Tokyo. Kyoto is the City of Temples and Shrines, over a thousand, much of which are all in wonderful condition. The purpose of my trip, was to do a keynote presentation to senior Japanese leaders in the healthcare field, on the transformation that is underway in healthcare around the globe. I also conducted a day-long workshop for middle to senior leaders in the healthcare industry, more focused on advancing leadership development in individuals, teams and organizations.

If you have never been to Japan, go! The Japanese are perhaps the best hosts on earth. They delight in making things easy for you and showing you their country.

Intermingled among the work related events, we had opportunities to visit very interesting shrines where Shoguns sat in court governing regions of the nation back in the mid 1800s. We learned about their culture and styles of leadership. One style that was very disconcerting to me, as I am always late to everything, was that if you were late to a meeting with the Shogun, by a minute, and that was after traveling months to get there, it was time to say goodbye to your comrades. There were very strict codes of behavior in terms of who sat where in meeting the Shoguns, and even more strict
when meeting the Emperor.

In advance of my trip, I read up a lot on the Japanese healthcare system. Like most modern systems, it was based on Bismarck’s model in Germany of a more centrally controlled system. But unlike say Canada and the U.K., the primary involvement from government is in setting prices for everything from 4 stitches to an MRI. The costs are kept very low, such as $105 for a night in a hospital, any hospital.

BookScanCenter_2In the USA, that would be comparable to a hotel on the freeway for one night, certainly not our top hospitals, where rooms run into the thousands per night. The rigid cost structure is transparent, and everyone has to follow it, no exceptions. So, it is hard to run a healthcare business in Japan and be profitable, but everyone is covered, and the quality of care is good, based on Japan having the highest life expectancy rate, and lowest infant mortality rate in the world among other statistics. The Japanese can get into see their doctors usually in a day or two, and that can include top specialists. Japanese typically go to their physicians regularly resulting in better preventative care. And there are few if any lawsuits, and no one goes bankrupt in Japan due to medical bills.

Yet, all is not perfect of course. The system is struggling financially with low costs and an increasingly older population. Moreover, while I was in Japan, there was a series of stories of a surgeon who had killed a number of patients over a several year time span, and it appeared many knew he was incompetent, but challenging a senior physician is difficult to do in a culture like Japan. One article termed it a problem with leadership, that should have intervened to stop this surgeon. I would add a problem with organizational culture, not unlike we see in the US in terms of similar incidents.

In the end, we started some potential fruitful relationships between our school and the healthcare leaders in Japan, and going back to Japan in the near future, seems like a great possibility. Between the hospitality, food and beautiful cities and countryside, it seems like a great place to strike up a collaboration.