Applied Learning Global Trip: Nǐ hǎo from China!
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By Emily Zupan
The CBPM presented us with the opportunity of a lifetime this year: a trip to China! I signed up as soon as it was announced. Having never been east of Berlin, I knew I’d be seeing a whole new world, and I was right! Talk about night and day compared to last year’s trip to Brazil! No beaches, no caipirinhas, and a lot less samba dancing. Instead of sipping caipirinhas by the beach, we bartered for knockoff Rolex watches in the boiler room of a Shanghai mall, and samba dancing was replaced by walking along the Great Wall.
One of the most rewarding components of the trip, for me, was being able to work with local Chinese MBA students on a case study at SC Johnson in Shanghai; I think that interaction provided us with more insights into Chinese culture than did some of the official cultural events that we had planned. Our peers not only helped us to understand what packaging said, but they also helped us get into the mindset of the Chinese consumer better than we would have been able to on our own. At P&G in Guangzhou, we were able to dive even deeper into the habits of Chinese consumers in terms of online shopping, and Kimberly-Clark taught us about their specific consumer and how they perceive U.S. brands compared to brands from other countries, like neighboring Japan.
We learned so much about the Chinese consumer, and about how business is conducted in China, but the most important aspect of the trip for me was networking and relationship building. Our hosts at each company we visited were more than welcoming, and were happy to share their personal and professional experiences with us. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience China on this trip, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to travel with. Thank you, from all of us, to the board members and alumni who made the trip possible. It has been one of the most memorable experiences in my time as a Wisconsin MBA, and a distinguishing element of the CBPM experience.