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

Smartest College Decision

Becca RidenourThis post was written by Rebecca Ridenour detailing her 2007 EUSA London Internship

When I applied for EUSA’s study abroad program, I did it on a whim.  One of my friends and I had toyed with the idea of doing internships in London through the EUSA program, and the day before our applications were due, we said, ‘were we going to do that?’  I set out working on a CV, an essay, and various other parts of the application that night. I thought, well I’ll turn it in if I get it done.  I was a sophomore at the UW applying to the Foster School.  I was a fairly confident person but not when it came to getting into the business school, picking a concentration, or deciding where I wanted my career to go.

The experience and confidence gained by participating in the EUSA internship program was life changing.  I spent a summer in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, working on a multi-million dollar project at Barclays Wealth and being truly responsible for myself.

I feel like I “grew up” in a professional, mature sense.  I learned so much about myself, my abilities, my interests, and really what I am capable of.

I returned to UW last fall confident in myself, the concentration I was picking, and my ability to start an exciting career in finance after graduation.  When I look back at the personal development that took place in a matter of months, I am astonished.  Interning abroad in London was a blast, and one of the smartest things I’ve done in college.

Just Do It

Victoria WongThis post was written by Victoria Wong detailing her 2008 CIEE Shanghai Summer Program experience.

One of my college goals had always been to study abroad. I didn’t know where, how, or even why, but hearing EVERY single piece of advice from those who had previously studied abroad, it was clear that I should “just do it!” I admit that studying abroad presents many obstacles such as completing the application process, figuring how the credits transfer, and applying for financial aid and scholarships, but you will hear it again and again, “It is so worth it!”

If that doesn’t make you head straight to the Foster School of Business Global Business Center and sign up for their numerous programs offerings, here are my top three reasons why you should just “GO!”

#3: Apply your business skills firsthand as you micro-manage your trip itinerary project , effectively communicate necessary completion action items with your fellow study abroad buddies, and strategically negotiate the prices of souvenirs.

#2: Companies are eager to hire those who are adaptable to new and unfamiliar environments. Utilizing UW study abroad resources allows you to have an experience like none other. It is a unique opportunity to be a temporary local in a foreign country!

#1: No matter how much ethnic food you may eat on the Ave, nothing beats an authentic meal of hand-shaven noodles prepared right off the streets. You won’t understand until you get there.

All I have to say is “make it happen!” If you are on the fence for studying abroad and are overwhelmed by the many steps to get there, I encourage you to “just do it!” It is well worth it at the end.

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

- Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.