Tag Archives: CISB

Food delivery in Shanghai and a discussion on cultural differences

Guest post by Emily Su, Foster undergraduate, studying marketing and pursuing a Certificate of International Studies in Business. She studied abroad in Shanghai, China this summer 2015.

IMAG5349The story that best highlights my international experience is not a story that’s groundbreaking, daring, or jaw-dropping. But, it’s a pleasant and humbling story that is life-changing and something I’ll never ever forget.

We are all aware that there are striking differences between Chinese and American systems. Chinese views on politics, economics, social class, independence, and freedom (just to name a few) are drastically different. Going into my study abroad experience, I did not expect to have the opportunity to talk with locals about politics and social issues. In China, these issues are sensitive. Often, they are a big no-no for open discussion.

One day, my Chinese roommate and I were deciding where to eat lunch—at the cafeteria? The food court at the neighboring mall? A noodle restaurant ten minutes away? Before we had decided –  thanks to typhoon season in Shanghai –  a torrential downpour began outside. So much for a lunch date outing. Immediately, my Chinese roommate pulled out her phone and showed me an incredible App, 美团外卖 (Mei Tuan Wai Mai), that featured thousands of restaurant selections nearby. They all had built-in speedy food delivery services. When she told me that food delivery in Shanghai is often cheaper than dining in, my eyes lit up. I knew I had discovered something amazing. We ordered multiple flavors of dumplings and within 30 minutes we were eating to our heart’s content in the safety and protection of our dormitory.

I kept gushing about the food delivery system in Shanghai, since America seems to be a little behind on this trend. This sparked one of the most genuine, interesting, and meaningful conversations I have ever had. Despite my expectation of avoiding political topics, my roommate initiated the discussion of some political issues. We talked about an array of topics, from gun laws to voting, from traffic laws to pollution. We discussed differences in entrepreneurship and corporate tax. What started off as curious conversation about voting, became an exciting and enjoyable exchange of perspectives, experiences, and questions. I found myself asking more questions than giving answers. I never thought I could ask so many questions at once, and I never thought anyone could be that curious about my home country. I could probably have written a book about all the things I learned that day about differences in Chinese and American culture.

I absolutely love to discuss differences in cultures. I like to observe, and so almost everything I experienced in Shanghai, I would compare to the American version. Comparing cultures and seeing the huge differences in daily life is mind-blowing. Chinese people may cook completely differently, interact with friends differently, or even wash their clothes differently, but it somehow works. Different societies, whether it be because of political/economic/geographic/social differences, just have different ways of getting the job done. That’s what I’m fascinated about. I learned that there is no one culture that is the best or the greatest in all aspects. Learning more about another country has helped me realize this.

My ancestors are from China. I was born and raised in America. This study abroad experience was a wonderful way for me to bridge the gap, to understand the meaning of and be the representation of Chinese-American. This is exactly what I needed to pursue my career in international business. And, the bridge will only become shorter and shorter.

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.

Authentic international business experience at the Specialty Coffee Event

Guest post by Cristina Stefan, Foster undergraduate and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

Through the Certificate of International Studies in Business program (CISB), I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 27th edition of the Specialty Coffee Event, which took place April 9–12 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Josef Moreno and I volunteered to work with the honorary consulate of Peru, located in Seattle, to help translate and interpret for the coffee roasters that had come from all over Peru to show their merchandise and enter the international coffee market. For some it was their second or third time attending the event, but for others it was their first time outside of their home country. We did our best to support them and help them in their interactions with the consumers and retailers present at the trade show.

It was an unimaginable experience and a perfect way to put my Spanish language skills to use. While Joe helped with a private meeting among the Peruvian vendors, I interpreted for the coffee roasters–some of whom spoke a very distinct Spanish dialect specific to the region they had come from. I facilitated information exchanges and future travel arrangements between coffee growers, toasters, vendors, and buyers from all over the world who had come to the Peruvian booths to learn about the delicious coffee grown in Peru.

Being so closely involved not only enriched my vocabulary and stretched my thinking, but also opened my eyes to a new industry few people know the details of. Among the coffee types we tried were Geisha, Catuai, Caturra, Colombiana, Arusha, Kona, Java, and Pache. We discovered “cupping,” a very unique coffee tasting technique, using a spoon and very briskly sipping the coffee. Who knew being a coffee taster also requires a specific certification?

We were able to observe how coffee is toasted, bagged, and even roasted and prepared in the different machines and then served. We tried iced coffees, frappes, Italian sodas, and many other delicious coffee based products.

Above all, the cultural experience and the ability to interact and network with professionals in the coffee industry was invaluable. Observing the different negotiation techniques and all the cultural differences based on the country of origin of the attendees reminded me of all that I’ve learned about international business in my classes here at Foster. This was probably the most authentic international business setting I have participated in.

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.

Working abroad leads to freedom in the job market

Guest post by Nathan Bright (BA 2014)

Nathan Bright at the University of ManizalesMy name is Nathan Bright and I graduated from the Foster School and the CISB Program in March 2014 with a general business degree and Spanish minor. During my time at UW, I was able to study abroad in Spain and travel around Asia, so I knew when I graduated I wanted to find opportunities to work abroad and travel. I was lucky enough to be offered a position in Spain teaching English as well as a position in Colombia working at a university teaching business. I chose to move to South America because I wanted to experience a new country and continent and was excited about the opportunity to teach business and speak Spanish at work.

My original contract at the University of Manizales was for six months, but my coworkers and bosses were so happy to have me that I was able to extend my contract to a year. One thing I really enjoy about the job is the amount of freedom I have to design my own projects and work with professors to develop programs that are interesting to both the faculty and students. I also have the opportunity to speak English and Spanish while teaching business courses and work with students and professors in class and outside of the University during separately organized events. Working abroad has given me much more freedom in the job market because I would have never had the opportunity to be a professor or design my own projects if I had found a similar entry-level position in the US.

The CISB Program did a great job preparing me for this opportunity. We studied a wide variety of cultural experiences and had a lot of opportunities to work in real-life business contexts, which gave me the skills and knowledge required to live and work in a foreign country.

Because companies in other countries are often excited to have the opportunity to work with foreigners who are passionate and well-educated, there are plenty of ways to enter the job market in a different country. If you wish to contact me about my experiences abroad, email me at natebright01(at)gmail.com.

A view of Japan from the top: event with Former US Ambassador to Japan, John Roos

Guest post  by Nick Dwyer, Foster MBA Candidate, 2016

Before enrolling in the full-time MBA program at the Foster School this fall, I often heard full-time business students characterized as “day students”. But with the vast number of engaging presentations, speakers’ series, networking opportunities and other evening events at our disposal, I now realize this was a misnomer. While I’m not currently taking any evening classes, my on-campus education rarely ceases before 6PM.  Perhaps my most notable example is the evening of November 20th, when I had the opportunity to hear from the former US ambassador to Japan, John Roos.

Ambassador Roos came to the Foster School as part of the Tateuchi Foundation Asian Business Distinguished Speaker Lecture, a series of annual speeches by business leaders focused on presenting US-Japan business opportunities.

By partnering with the Tateuchi Foundation, we can honor the legacy of Mr. Tateuchi’s business success and further the Foundation’s goals of promoting international understanding, knowledge, and relations.

The event is made possible by the Tateuchi Foundation, a family foundation charged with building bridges of understanding between the United States and Japan. Given this mission, its unlikely there is a more fitting presenter than John Roos, who served in his role as ambassador to Japan from 2009 to 2013.

One of the most interesting points of Ambassador Roos’ presentation was his atypical professional background for an ambassador. Unlike most American ambassadors to Japan, John Roos never held a significant public office before his ambassadorship and was not a political figure in Washington, DC.  Before Japan, Roos was a lawyer in Silicon Valley, where as CEO he led a premier technology law firm.

He explained that he was such an outsider that his wife quipped that he “didn’t have a chance in hell” before formally receiving his nomination for the post. But his less than common background was appealing to President Obama, who appreciated his experience in technology and innovation and his understanding of Asia-Pacific business. “But most of all, it was just a matter of trust” Roos confirmed.

tateuchi_2014-roos-120As someone who has always been interested with the economy of Japan, I particularly enjoyed watching Ambassador Roos interact with Japanese students in the Q&A part of the evening. What emerged was a major difference of opinion between the state and potential future of Japan. Several students commented they felt pessimistic about the future of Japan, given the weak economy, the high population loss, and the high national debt. Ambassador Roos reminded them that Japan is still the third largest economy in the world and that 90% of the world would trade places with them. When asked what is the best characteristic of Japanese business, Roos stated that “quality and attention to detail permeate the whole society” and there is a very high level of service, which can continue to drive the Japanese business.  He also sees the Japanese business culture beginning to address its lack of entrepreneurial thinkers and businesses, which will be key for future economic growth.

While Japanese business was a major conversation point for the evening, Roos also discussed a number of geopolitical issues, including the thorny relationship between Okinawa and the United States, the dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, and North Korean threat to Japan. He also described the biggest challenge of his ambassadorship; the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The link between national security and economic wellbeing was not lost on the ambassador, as he frequently pivoted between both topics.

In all, Ambassador Roos painted a complex yet optimistic picture of Japan and Japanese businesses. His belief in the country is illustrated by his current position on the board of directors at Japan’s largest electronics company, Sony. While Japan has to overcome it’s shrinking population and stiff competition, his ambassadorship allowed him to see up close what makes Japan so dynamic.

While I certainly don’t wish to underestimate my daytime classes and activities, Ambassador Roos certainly demonstrated that learning about global business doesn’t necessarily slow when the sun sets at Paccar Hall.


Foster School students win 2nd place at BYU Business Language Case Competition

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Saya Kashiwamura, Janet Yang, and Gail Letrondo represent the University of Washington at the 2014 Brigham Young University Business Language Case Competition in Provo, Utah.

Although belated, the Global Business Center would like to extend an enormous congratulations to Janet Yang, Gail Letrondo, and Saya Kashiwamura who won 2nd place in the Chinese track of the BYU Business Language Case Competition on November 7th.

The Brigham Young University Business Language Case Competition is a unique opportunity for students to showcase their business acumen and foreign language skills by analyzing a real-life global business problem, and presenting their solution to a panel of judges made up of international business professionals in a non-native language.

These three young women competed against teams from prestigious universities across the country. They did an outstanding job analyzing the case and presenting their solution – in Mandarin Chinese! Judges were impressed by the insightful and innovative problem solving and detailed financial reports presented by the University of Washington team.

Student teams develop innovative solutions to increase profitability of the world’s largest festival

Photo of Winning Team
2014 Winning Team members Michelle Hara, Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, and Crystal Wang with Larry Calkins of Holland America Line

Did you know that during the 16 day Munich Oktoberfest an average tent with 7,500 seats sells over 4 million euros worth of beer?

This weekend at the  2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition, over 100 Foster School undergraduates grappled with how to increase the profitability and global reach of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest festival. The Global Business Center is pleased to announce that this year’s competition was a great success!

Teams played the role of outside consultants hired by the Munich Oktoberfest Organizing Committee to develop a strategy recommendation to increase profitability of Munich Oktoberfest. Teams spent 48 hours developing their background analysis, and on Saturday November 15th presented their recommendations to panels of community member judges. The top four teams were selected to move on to the final round.

After watching the final round teams present, the panel of six finalist judges determined a winner. This year’s deliberation was particularly challenging because each of the finalist teams had an insightful and innovative recommendation.

Team 2 members Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, Michelle Hara, and Crystal Wang, were named the 2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition Champion, and awarded $1,000. Their recommendation to increase profitability of Oktoberfest was to replicate the festival abroad, specifically in Munich’s Sister City, Sapporo, Japan. Their team determined through detailed analytics that a Sapporo Oktoberfest would prove successful due to existing infrastructure, socioeconomic factors and a strong cultural identity.

This year we had seven outstanding freshman teams participate in the ‘Freshman Direct Track’ of the competition, where only teams of Foster School freshman compete against one another. Judges were blown away by the extraordinary recommendations the freshman teams developed.  The title of Freshman Winning Team and an award of $500 was achieved by Christopher Cave, Carly Knight, Jennifer Louie, and Molly Mackinnon.  We are excited to see these students getting involved so early in their Foster careers!

The Holland America Line Global Case Competition is an introductory case competition and an exceptional learning experience for Foster School students. It provides an opportunity for students who have never competed in a case competition to ‘get their feet wet’. This year learning opportunities included a ‘how to approach a case competition’ training session, taught by Foster School faculty member Leta Beard, and a coaching round which provided teams the opportunity to get feedback on their presentation from business community and faculty coaches before presenting in front of the judges panel. Thank you to all of our volunteers who made the event possible!

Visit our website to find out more and learn how to get involved next year.

The Global Business Center would like to thank Holland America Line for their generous support of this unique educational event for Foster School of Business students. Holland America Line is a leader in the cruising industry and a longtime supporter of the Foster School of Business.