Now in China studying at Lingnan (University) College, our M.S. in Global Commerce class made a trip to Shenzhen as part of our Doing Business in China course. Shenzhen is a tech megacity known as the “Silicon Valley of Hardware” and is about two hours outside of Guangzhou. We had the opportunity to visit five companies over three days: Country Gardens, WeBank, Mindray, DJI, and Midea.
Our first visit was to Country Garden, a company that specializes in property development, construction, decoration, property management, hotel development, and so much more. The company was listed by Forbes as one of the “World’s 500 Largest Public Companies” in 2018. We toured one of their properties, a boarding school built by the CEO, which allows underprivileged kids to attend school for free. This school is one of just a few in China to give free tuition based on merit. During our tour, we were able to hear from top executives as they discussed topics like how Country Garden is developing smart cities like Forest City in Malaysia. Forest City has all of its transportation underground and homes that are so smart that they can perfectly water plants without human monitoring.
Another highlight of the trip was our visit to DJI’s headquarters to see how this Chinese technology company operates. DJI specializes in the manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones. As the world leader in civilian drone and aerial imaging technology, we were able to view drones that are used for everything from agriculture to filming on the sets of TV shows like Game of Thrones and The Amazing Race. We even had the opportunity to meet and listen to an alumna from the very first M.S. in Global Commerce Class of 2017, Rachel Wang. During her speech, she advised us to seek opportunities to get to know our classmates. “Work is work. Life is life. It is important to maintain a balance.” After finishing the tour, we saw a demonstration of one of the drones outside and experienced the power of the company’s technology.
Our last visit was to Midea, a world leading technology group specializing in consumer appliances, HVAC systems, robotics and industrial automation systems, and smart supply chain logistics. We learned about the history of the company and toured their show room, which included testing out the different features of smart appliances including refrigerators that open with the wave of a hand, curtains that open and close with a voice command to a smart speaker, and more. After touring the showroom, we gained further insights by asking employees questions about the company, like how they market their products differently across cultures. The example given was about the company’s rice cookers, which are very popular in China, but not in Russia. Midea learned to market the product in Russia as a multi-cooker instead of just a rice cooker and able to increase sales.
Overall, we learned a lot about the ways consumers live and consume products in a rapidly evolving and evermore technological world. We learned about the business strategies of some of the most successful companies in China and their global reach. Finally, we engaged with top executives who face real issues that we too will one day face in our own careers and heard firsthand how they are tackling those complex business challenges. Follow our journey in the program on Instagram.