Tag Archives: Global Business

Xin Chào from Vietnam!

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

I’m currently writing this post from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where 22 Class 13 students have just kicked off their 10-day International Study Tour experience. Jet lag didn’t hold anyone back as we hit the ground running and began to explore this great city and all it has to offer.

Our first day of the tour acted as a great way for everyone to get our bearings – we started the day with a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City and explored the Presidential Palace and some beautiful French colonial buildings including the Notre Dame cathedral and city post office.

For the afternoon, we ventured out to the Mekong Delta and meandered through a maze of waterways. We had a couple stops along the way where we enjoyed local fruits and tea, music, and encountered a python (yes – I said a python). And a few folks were even brave enough to snap a few pictures with it. I was not one of them!

We capped the day with a celebratory welcome dinner to mark the beginning of an exciting tour to come. From a dynamic group of company visits that includes industries as such banking, technology, automotive, logistics, tax and inward investment, and market research and media (Ford, Cisco and Citi Bank to name a few companies) to unforgettable cultural experiences and phenomenal Vietnamese cuisine – the next 10-day will surely be a whirlwind that will not disappoint.

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About the TMMBA International Study Tour:
The International Study Tour experience is an optional tour for TMMBA students that occurs in the second year of study and gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different cultural and business context than the one in which we all typically operate day-to-day.  Students who partake in the tour have the opportunity to visit companies, tour manufacturing facilities, and meet business leaders and government officials. Click here to view blog posts from past Study Tour experiences.

Lessons from the Desert – A Look Back on the 2013 International Study Tour

In March, a group of 22 students, alumni, staff, and faculty landed in Dubai for the beginning of the TMMBA International Study Tour.  We spent 10 days in the United Arab Emirates and had the opportunity to visit 11 companies and government agencies and to take in the local sites and culture.

Photo of company visit to e-Home Automation
Meeting with Founder & CEO of e-Home Automation in Dubai

This year an overarching theme for the trip was examining our “global mindset” regarding the way we live, and how we and our organizations do business in comparison to the geographical and cultural context of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Two definitions of global mindset shared by Bruce Avolio, our faculty for the trip, were:

“An expansive way of seeing and thinking that grasps the individual, team, and organizational challenges and opportunities triggered by operating in a complex global business environment.”
– http://virtualteamwork.blogspot.com/2011/08/defining-global-mindset.html

“The cognitive capabilities of senior managers in multinational companies”
– Source: What We Talk About When We Talk About “Global Mindset”: Managerial Cognition in Multinational Corporations

We explored this concept before we departed for the UAE through several reading assignments, videos, and an individual assessment that gave insight into our own abilities that contribute to the development of a global mindset.  We were asked to consider and explore a few questions during the trip and used our time on the bus between company visits to delve in more deeply. For example:

  • What are the challenges of working in a global cross-cultural context and in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi?
  • What are the best companies doing to manage and lead in a global context?
  • How might technology facilitate or hinder working in a complex, global context?
  • What constitutes one’s global mindset and how is it developed?
  • How does one’s global mindset relate to leading and managing across different cultural contexts?
  • What are the implications of having a global mindset for performance?

There were great discussions during our time in the UAE and one student who went on the trip put together this video on the experience.

Interested in learning more about our takeaways from International Study Tour? Check out this blog post from student Anne-Marie Scollay and these final thoughts on Leadership in the Middle East from our faculty, Bruce Avolio.

In March 2014 TMMBA will take a group to visit another part of the world, Vietnam. Learn more about that trip and stay tuned for their takeaways from the experience abroad.

Takeaways from the 2013 International Study Tour

 
TMMBA Student Anne-Marie Scollay traveled to Dubai and Abu Dhabi this month on our International Study Tour.  Below are her takeaways and final thoughts from the trip. Read more about Anne-Marie’s journey on her personal study tour blog: http://outlookvfr.wordpress.com/

As I begin my journey home to Seattle, I find myself reflecting over the past two weeks in this beautiful and fascinating country. For so many reasons, this trip has been unlike any other international trip that I have taken previously – traveling with classmates, working with a knowledgeable guide, and having access to local businesses that were willing to share their time and transparently share information to a group of MBA students from the USA.

Depending on who you talk to, the UAE has a population of between 8-9 million people, of that only about 1 million are Emirati. What is so compelling about those figures is that the Emirati are the minority in their home country. While protective and proud of their own culture, they also recognize that in order to keep the country running with so many expats that there must be some concessions made. And so, despite the fact that this is an Islamic country, it is possible to drink alcohol, consume pork, and wear what one likes. In return, the expectation is that expats behave respectfully and follow the law (deportation is one very likely outcome for those expats that break the law).

The cities we visited clearly depicted contrasts: haves and have-nots, tradition and modernization, Emerati and expat, religion and commerce, and many more. And yet, somehow, it works here. The national leadership recognizes that to become a global player, the country must maintain both a stable economy and political environment. So while there is turmoil in the region, the UAE has maintained stability and as a result continues to attract expat workers and foreign investment to continue its economic advancement. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are cities under construction – neither of which is standing still. I am certain that in just 6 months the skyline will again look different and that there will be new marvels to behold.

At the close of this trip, I realize that as well-traveled as I had previously considered myself, there is still so much more about the world for me to learn. This trip has expanded my perspective in so many ways – about the world that I live in, my own perspectives and stereotypes, and the critical importance of truly listening and learning from each other. I leave the UAE humbled by how much I have learned in such a short time and hopeful that I will have the opportunity to return again soon.

Tianjin Economic Technological Development Area

Guest post by Sumedha Kukreja, Class of 2012 International Study Tour participant

天津经济技术开发区TMMBA student at TEDA during the International Study Tour

On March 19th 2012 morning, we took a 30 minute bullet train ride to Tianjin. TEDA is about 38 km away from Tianjin downtown. It is considered an important part of the Tianjin Binhai New Area.

TEDA stands for “Tianjin Economic-Technological Development area”.  It was established in 1984. TEDA is divided into 3 industrial parks: TEDA industrial park, Yet–sen Scientific and Industrial Park, and Microelectronic Industrial Park.

We were met by Jianning Li (representative for Chicago), Peidong Lin (representative for Dallas), and Yu Xiaoran (project manager for section of Europe and America).

Before TEDA was marked for development, the area was used to harvest sea salt. Most of the development has taken place in last 30 years. Motorola was the first company to set up a factory in this area. By the end of the year 2010, about 4870 foreign funded enterprises from 74 countries were represented. In the first 10 years there was 25% growth in GDP. In recent years growth has slowed down as the cost of doing business in TEDA has increased. As of the end of 2010, total investment in this area has been over $62.2 Billion. Progress of TEDA has been boosted by its superior geographic location. Its closeness to Tianjin Port allows it to have access to over 400 ports in 180 countries worldwide. Also, to the west is the Tianjin Binhai International airport, which is a major airport for the transportation of cargo and passengers.

Some of the major companies that have invested in this area include Samsung, Honeywell, Toyota, GlaxoSmithKline, Coca- Cola, KYOCERA Solar energy, and TOHO Lead Recycling. It was interesting that when Toyota set up manufacturing in TEDA, its numerous suppliers followed it to the area.

To promote TEDA the organization has set up offices in 9 locations around the world. In order to attract investors, TEDA provides “one stop “service for investment policy consulting and procedure consulting to projects approval. I was not expecting the transparency and fairness in legal system, which TEDA promotes.

To support the investing companies and to attract prospective employees, TEDA has constructed schools, university, childcare centers. Tianjin has 55 higher education institutes, from where 60,000 students graduate every year. TEDA has partnered with various colleges and technical vocation schools across China to build adequate Human Resource pool.

What struck me was the amount of effort Chinese government was putting in to attract foreign investment. Tianjin looked like a busy city with heavy traffic. Apparently the infrastructure is not able to keep up with the development.

Another thing, which was striking, was the smog and the high level of pollution in air and water. TEDA officials commented that their goal in near future was to reduce carbon emissions. To this end they are working with different international companies to promote environmental sustainability. They are making efforts to create a sustainable environment, but the effects are not yet apparent.

Overall, I felt that China has made deliberate efforts to promote economic growth through financial and economic support and the lessons learned in areas like TEDA are being applied to develop new areas.

International Study Tour – Singapore Airlines

Guest post by Jessica Efta, Class of 2012

Our visit to Singapore Airlines started with Hank from Public Affairs giving us an overview of the company, beginning with the following mission statement: “Singapore Airlines is a global company dedicated to providing air transportation services of the highest quality and to maximizing returns for shareholders.” Two core components of the company’s culture can be seen in this mission statement, “global” and “quality.”

As a global company, Singapore Airlines flies approximately 17 million passengers per year.  Pretty impressive, considering Singapore itself has only 5 million citizens. The airline now flies to 63 destinations in 34 countries.

Singapore Airlines is known as a higher end airline, and a very strong culture of quality and customer service pervades the company.  Artifacts of the company culture for high quality can be seen in the entryway, where the flight attendants’ attire is proudly on display behind glass.  We were told that flight attendants receive double the amount of training compared to the industry average.

This strategy of providing high quality seems to be working quite well for the company.  Singapore Airlines has never posted a loss in its 40 year history.  A smaller airline, it ranks 16th in terms of traffic size, but it is the most profitable in terms of RPK (revenue per kilometer). In FY10, group revenue was reported as $14.5B with a net profit of $1.1B.

We then took a tour of the building, where we got to learn more about what high quality at Singapore Airlines’ really means.  We went inside a demo plane and see a water tank complete with a wave-making machine designed for emergency landing training purposes.  Next, it was explained to us how Singapore Airlines trains their flight attendants.  Our guide explained that the flight attendants must memorize each piece of silverware, glass pairings for wines, and every other detail for the food service (including which glass to use for Dom Perignon champagne). They also must learn the appropriate way to deal with all kinds of passengers—kids, elderly, moms, businessmen, etc. An interesting (and I would assume, effective) approach to “empathy training” is to send their attendants to nursing homes to know how to deal with elderly passengers. They even attend classes on how to fix their hair and apply makeup.  After learning this, I could see why the attendants received double the industry average on training!  For the grand finale, we got to tour the first class and business class sections of the latest plane models, where the value of high quality could be experienced. Seats were wide enough to fit at least two people, and each seat had a footrest and a flat screen TV!  Perhaps one day with my MBA degree I’ll land a job where I can afford such luxury! ;)

3…2…1…Take Off!

Sara Jones, TMMBA Class of 2012 & Assistant Director

I’m sitting in a lounge at SeaTac airport and can’t believe it’s finally here – the TMMBA International Study Tour!  The past week has been a crazy whirlwind of final exams and a business plan project.  I haven’t slept much lately and am actually looking forward to the long flight to catch up.

I signed up for the trip last October. That feels like such a long time ago! We’re heading to Singapore and Beijing where we’ll spend several days meeting with executives during company visits and also get some free time along the way. This is my first trip to Asia and I’m really excited to explore. I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare, but luckily TMMBA gave us a few small travel guides so I can read up on the plane and hit the ground running.

I’ll be writing along the way, but here’s a quick run-down of the itinerary:

Day 1: Singapore tour & group dinner in Clark Quay

Day 2: Visits to Johnson & Johnson and Singapore Airlines

Day 3: Visits to Exploit Technologies (A*Star) and GE Singapore Water Technology Center

Day 4: Some cultural outings and free time

Day 5: Fly to Beijing & free time

Day 6: Visits to US China Business Council and Amazon Fulfillment Center

Day 7: It’s the weekend! Visit the Great Wall and Gaoliying Market

Day 8: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and free time

Day 9: Bullet train to Tianjin. Visits to Damco, TEDA, Port of Tianjin & DP World Terminal Operators

Day 10: Visit to Motorola and fly home just in time to start prepping for spring quarter.

 

Whew!  It’s going to be jam packed, but I can’t wait to get there and take it all in.