By Jake Culian
Last time we discussed our travels through Japan, but as soon as that was over the MIM cohort of 2015 dashed off to Shanghai. While we had all greatly enjoyed Japan it was time to continue our adventure and visit one of the largest cities in China. To start things off we had lunch on our first full day there on the eastern side of Shanghai. In the background you can see faintly one of the tallest buildings in Shanghai.
One of the first companies we went to visit was an electronic car components manufacturer named Hella. Hella is a German based firm with 4 facilities in China and we got to visit their Chinese headquarters. This firm produces many car parts which include circuit boards or other electronic components and this facility prides itself for having the lowest defect rate among Hella factories. After viewing their factory we got to talk to a top facility manager who was able to discuss with us many of the issues of their business in Shanghai and new market trends.
While we had traveled by bus on all our company visits in Tokyo while in Shanghai we got a special treat and got to ride the bullet train up to Nanjing to visit one of the Hanes factories. It was amazing watching the speedometer march up towards 300 km/hr and not feel anything. The Hanes factory was interesting in that they actually ship 70% of their yarn to China from the US and then ship the cut products elsewhere to be made into garments and finally back to the US as a finished good. The excitement wasn’t over though because on our way back into Shanghai our train stopped less than a mile outside the station for an hour because of technical issues. Guess everything can’t go smoothly.
One of our two cultural excursions during the China section of the trip took place in Nanjing where we got to visit the Nanjing History Museum. Never one to miss the opportunity for a photo when we saw the development of man pictures we just had to recreate them as a development of the modern businessman. The museum had a wide variety of artifacts from many different periods of Chinese history including pottery, art, furniture and recreations.
The next day we returned to making company visits and this time visited a Toll Global Forwarding facility located nearby our hotel in Shanghai. The Toll Group is an Australian based logistics solutions provider which prided itself on coming up with innovative total solutions which help companies in more ways than just cutting costs in logistics. In the background you can see an example of these logistics solutions where they would pick and pack multiple types of wine and send them together to end users as a way of saving their customer an addition step in the shipping process.
One of my personal favorite things about Shanghai was how centrally located we were. Below you can see the hotel with a spaceship on top. That’s the Radisson Blue Hotel and it’s located on Nanjing Road, a major commercial area with lots of shopping and amazing food. From the hot pot restaurant we nicknamed painful pot to the Xinjiang style restaurant 2 blocks from where we were staying we never lacked for good food. The park across the street had a really fun bar in a little pond as well. Then of course there were the two buildings we decided were probably Sauron’s tower, one of which you can see right in the middle here.
My favorite company visit was this one below, a flavoring and fragrance company called Symrise. Our host was a little hesitant about our visit and started out not entirely pleased to see us, but like everyone we have visited on this trip so far we were able to win them all over. Everyone we have talked to so far has been surprised how international our cohort is and then even more surprised how challenging the questions we ask are. Since school has started some class members have struggled with being forced to speak up and exit their comfort zones, but now we get to see the vast rewards as potential employers are impressed time and again by the level of thought we present.
Our second cultural tour was visiting Suzhou University about an hour and a half outside of Shanghai. This was the second of three colleges that we will visit and seeing how different programs work is an extremely valuable part of this trip. In addition it allows us to start making connections with people who are going to be working in the same sort of fields we will be. The students guided us around Suzhou and then took us to a large garden complex. It was fun getting to walk around a more traditional Chinese city and cool to get to know more international students.
As business students it would never do to leave a city like Shanghai without doing some firsthand research on local small business strategy. Towards this end many of visited the old market district up near the bund above our hotel. Walking through the market was a little bit of an overwhelming experience with huge numbers of people and endless little shops. Since this is China they also take their lights and colors seriously as can be seen below. Don’t let the colorful exterior fool you though, the shop owners are vicious bargainers.
And now we come to the end of our time in Shanghai and the beginning of the next adventure. Our time in Shanghai wasn’t very long, only until the afternoon of Friday the 13th but we all had a fun time. As the trip kept going we all started getting tired from the constant running around, but with only one country left we can’t stop now. Here we’re waiting with our brave program director in the Shanghai International Airport for our airline to let us check in. It was a great time in Shanghai, and next stop Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam!