Friday, March 20, 2009

Long day in Shanghai

This was a very long day, kicking off at 9:00 am and ending around 10:00 pm.

We started today off with a visit to the investment firm Fountainvest, where one of the company's partners described the changing landscape of private investment in China as the country opens up to accommodate privately held companies (non-state-owned enterprises). The students asked phenomenal questions, focusing particularly on issues of competition, garnering interest to increase investors from within and outside China, and determining which companies are stable enough to invest in.

After a lengthy break for lunch, we gathered in the lobby of Charms Hotel and walked to the subway station in People's Square, a short distance from the hotel. The subway took us within three blocks of the tower housing Ernst & Young, our next stop for the day. Jenny Chan, who oversees IT operations of E&Y in Shanghai, gave a great presentation on the Chinese marketplace. Once again, our students asked many questions, and Jenny was clearly impressed both with their curiosity to learn and with their ability to ask smart challenging questions. She offered them realistic advice about breaking into a career in the Chinese market - to be seriously considered for an internship or a job, an American student has to be dedicated to learning Chinese and the local culture/customs. It's not as simple as attaining a job here and expecting to do well because you're American; with the economic situation, the American way of conducting business is no longer elevated to the highest level of being the exclusive "right way." So any posturing by an American as being superior doesn't guarantee such broad opportunities or success in China anymore.

Once our visit to E&Y ended, we walked several blocks to the Yan'an Hotel. At 6:00 pm, we enjoyed a buffet-style dinner featuring local Shanghai cuisine, all paid for by Kelley alumnus Simon Goe. Then at 7:30 pm, Mr. Goe met with the students in a conference room for an hour and a half session about his success in the Chinese market. He now serves as Chairman and CEO of the Ocean Star International, Inc and Beijing Honglin Pharmaceutical, Inc.

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