March 15, Junior Achievement, Yu Garden, Celanese

OK, so the Mary Kay offices really are the location of Junior Achievement China.  In fact, it’s a nice example of one of the ways that companies can support non-profs in China.  What surprised you about the visit to Junior Achievement China?  Anything unexpected?

Minnie then walked us through the Yu Garden, where Ben got to display creative photographic talents–which we found out is part of a family tradition.  We then headed over to Pudong to visit with Celanese, the soon-to-be home for Anthony.  We then spent the evening at the Chinese acrobatics show, which exceeded any expectation anyone had of what was going to be going on.  Wow, what a full day.

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25 Responses to “March 15, Junior Achievement, Yu Garden, Celanese”

  1. Shelli Dunigan Says:

    Today we visited Junior Achievement in Shanghai and had the opportunity to learn about the non-profit environment in China. One of the most interesting takeaways from their presentation was that volunteerism is only a recent trend in Chinese culture. While I had not previously known much about JA, this fit perfectly in line with my background in education non-profit in the U.S. One question that I thought of after the visit was around the talent pool for non-profits. In my own experience in the U.S., it is often difficult to attract top talent to non-profit jobs and I’m curious to know if that is a similar problem in China. Given that volunteerism is a new trend, I’m assuming it’s a similar issue for attracting talent as employees.

  2. Nori Harada Says:

    It was nice to visit a non-profit organization in this trip whose motivation is a little bit different from that of profit organization. The presentation was well organized and very informative. I did not know much about JA, so I could learn a lot through this visit. I was impressed by the fact that such talented local staff worked for a non-profit organization like JA and that how they were motivated by the job. Right now almost all the monetary sponsorships come from American or multi-national firms based in China, I just wonder if this trend is going to change going forward.

  3. Jennifer Woods Says:

    I enjoyed both company visits. It wasn’t surprising that Junior Achievement had the same challenges as nonprofit organizations here in the US. What was interesting was that the organization was entirely funded by corporate donations as they weren’t allowed to solicit public donations as of yet. I liked the fact that this organization seemed to have what I call a “self sustainable” talent pipeline in that the beneficiaries of their program become future volunteers to help future beneficiaries. At Celanese, the most interesting thing I witnessed was their emphasis on safety. They opened the meeting by pointing out the location of the exits in the auditorium we were in. It was interesting to hear how Celanese moved one of their project headquarters to China. I got the impression that their US and European counterparts were more than willing to share their knowledge and experience to help the China operation grow. But I didn’t get the sense that the US and European operations were as anxious to receive knowledge and experience from China. I think this will change in the future. But it points to the challenge of the disconnectedness that can occur when expanding operations overseas.

    We also had a chance to eat Dim sum at lunch after touring the beautiful Yu Garden. Dim sum is a deliciously dangerous meal. That soup is hot! Just be careful and you can enjoy a wonderful meal. The garden was simply beautiful. While this garden was relatively small, the architecture was amazing! I also enjoyed the acrobatic show in the evening.

  4. cseberle Says:

    Visiting Junior Achievement was very eye opening in the sense of how the Chinese view donation giving. In the US making donations is pretty typical but in China it is a new concept which people are still trying to understand. In the beginning the issue was trying to explain to people what a donation was and why someone would just give money without receiving anything in return. It wasn’t until the recent earthquake in China that donation giving really caught on, and even during this there were instances where donations became a bragging right or a contest to see who can donate the most. The concept that it isn’t a contest and that it doesn’t matter how much you donate just if you do is still catching on.

    Today we also had soup dumplings that were AMAZING…yes, that’s right AMAZING. This was a great restaurant where the piles of dumplings kept coming and coming and I kept eating and eating. Delicious!

  5. Eugenie Lum Says:

    We visited the Junior Achievement and Calenese on a windy day. The presentation of JA was amazing, I learned a great deal of Chinese non-profit organization and its operations. Calenese company visit was also interesting. The president drew our attention by showing the emergency exit!! We asked a number of great questions, and I think Anthony was pleased with our appearances!

    The soup dumplings were so Yummy! Again, my duty was to explain each and every dish, but I had alot of fun too! I recognized how lucky I am being a foreign-born Chinese who can understand more about Chinese culture. I’m glad to share what I know about China with all of you! 🙂

  6. Adam Staley Says:

    Since financial altruism is very much a part of US culture (for various reasons), I never thought about the idea of having to teach the why in terms of donating. It is an unexpected challenge that JA’s facing.

    The takeaway from the Celanese visit for me was that, more than any other visit, this was a US company that happened to be operating on Chinese soil. At least from what we heard and saw, there was a lack of Chinese talent among the managerial ranks as well as deeper cultural understanding of doing business in China. Also, every reference to Chinese labor was limited to offsite production centers and featured an unfortunate “they” qualifier. As Jennifer mentions above, I imagine this will change in the future. I think, for next years visit, they should focus less on the powerpoint and more on the distinctly Chinese aspect of their business.

  7. Edyth Adedeji Says:

    The Junior Achievement visit at Mary Kay gave yet another different perspective to China. I was aware of JA because my pre-MBA employer was a supporter. It was nice to see that a country that is still in development is already taking giving back seriously. It was interesting learning about how their program differs from their counterparts in the West – For example, how they raise money from corporations, some additional hesitations they face with the concept of giving back as being relatively new and a “cool” thing to do, how their programs cater more to university level kids, and the requirement for their volunteers to work on Saturdays and the travel involved.

    The Yu garden visit was unique – the architecture had a good blend of the western influence and the Chinese touch. Some of the flowers were also already booming so it had more of a garden feel to it.

    The acrobat show was a good touch to end the day. It is always amazing to see how different people could mold their bodies to do very different things that sometimes my mind just thinks is impossible. From contortionists to balancing acts to magicians – it was a superb way to end the night.

  8. Ben Ryan Says:

    I was a bit disappointed that the volunteer project with Junior Achievers didn’t work out, but I still found our visit with them interesting. I learned firsthand about how seriously the Chinese take educating their children while talking to alumni at the Dinner in Beijing, and this visit served as further confirmation to that fact. It made me realize that I should be involved with Junior Achievers here in the states, something I hope to do in the near future.

    The Yu garden and Shanghai’s “China Town” was great. I did enjoy showcasing my photographic talents, thanks for the shout out Orlando! I’m always on the lookout for a funny pose and its great when you find something that strikes a chord with the group.

    With all of the great things today, I’m somewhat ashamed to say that the highlight for me may have been the soup dumplings at lunch. OK lets face it, I’m not ashamed…they were amazing!

  9. Lindsay Conant Says:

    Before the presentation, I had never head of Junior Achievement so I was excited to learn more about the non-profit sector in China. What was interesting about Junior Achievement was that is funded entirely by corporate donations and many of the organizations were US based. Also, there are established non-profits in China but they are government run, so it was interesting to hear that one of the elements JA has to overcome is to convince companies to give to a non-government organization. JA not only has to solicit donations from companies but also has to instill a philanthropic culture in their employees and convince them to volunteer their time. I thought it was fascinating that they are actively seeing the results of their work as new companies donate to JA because a current employee was part of the program.

  10. Leslie Farish Says:

    Having been a student in Junior Achievement growing up, I was not only excited to reconnect with the organization, but also curious to learn how its impact and mission might be different in China.

    For one, I was stunned to hear that JA has impacted over 1,000,000 children in China, especially given the barriers that the organization has had to overcome, such as obtaining volunteers, its inability to register as a non-profit in China, and its lack of local sponsors. However, Iza, the main speaker of the morning, was able to really relate to a struggle that I know many of us MBAs feel which is communicating the organization’s ROI to donors. Donors want to help, but Iza must really demonstrate the financial attractiveness of the organization, and she explained how she has been able to do that by showing donors that JA is helping to cultivate the abilities that the future leaders of China will need to have.

    If the McCombs group decides to return back to JA next year, it will be great to hear Iza’s feedback about her executive MBA studies that she will begin this fall, and how she has been able to take what she is learning in the classroom and use it to extend JA’s reach and impact. It will also be interesting to hear how any changes in government regulation that arise over the next year impact continued sponsorship by multinational corporations. I definitely think this was a good visit, especially for those that are interested in education, non-profit, or social enterprise, and one I hope the group continues for next year!

  11. Daniel Harrison Says:

    One of Celanese’s main products is acetate tow. This odd-sounding product is actually a key chemical product used in the filters of cigarettes, which seems to be prevalent in most aspects of Chinese business and social life. In an era when companies seek to highlight their ‘corporate social responsibility’, it was intriguing to see how a chemicals company downplays such a product when crafting its image to visitors. I would almost have preferred to hear the managers say “we signed a huge deal with China Tobacco and set up production facilities here because this is the world’s biggest market for smoking”; at least they would have won points for honesty. Of course, this would probably have resulted in a barrage of questions, particularly from our unofficial CSR ‘guardian’ Joel, who by my reckoning managed to ask a safety/environmental/sustainability question at every company presentation.

    The smoking culture is something that took me back a few years; smoking in pubs and restaurants has been banned in most States for a while, but the law was only changed in England in 2007. My natural reaction when confronted by smoking in a lobby, restaurant or train station was one of disgust, but I realized that it would have been even more inappropriate to complain. Air quality at a micro and macro level is something that the Chinese will have to rectify sooner rather than later, but for now the pollution is something that the population seem prepared to put up with as a by-product of wealth creation. Of course the West had a similar attitude for well over a hundred years, I just hope that the Chinese can accelerate their transition to a lower emission economy, for all our sakes.

  12. Heidi Burns Says:

    Ok, here we go, the soup dumplings were inccrrreedible! This was my favorite meal of the trip. I think next year there should definitely be more opportunity for these testy concoctions.

    Yes, this was a very full day. Our visit to JA in China was enlightening. I was most impressed with how far China has come, or at least JA has come, with bringing volunteers on-board despite the lack of knowledge most Chinese have of volunteering. It sounds like China has come a long way with recognizing the need for volunteers and more and more people are today are taking action. To me it seems that ‘giving back’ represents another step in the process of becoming a developed nation.

    After JA we had another garden visit. This one, in the hear of Shanghai, was my favorite. There were very unique elements to the architecture that stood out: the dragon, the rock, the ginko biloba tree (sp?).

    Wow, the acrobatic show! If I hadn’t been so extremely exhausted this evening I would have been on pins and needles the whole time. Who knew the body could twist in soooo many ways.

  13. Patrick O'Berry Says:

    The thing I found most interesting/surprising from the JA visit was the difficulty that non-profits had raising money within China. This was driven by a couple factors. First, giving to others in need is a relatively new concept in China- which I find fascinating given the country’s extreme communist background and traditional focus on supporting family. The second- which seems more relevant for fund raising in today’s Chinese economy- is that companies will only provide financial support to ‘government supported’ charities so they can get the goodwill from the government in return. This clearly makes it very difficult for many charitable organizations to gain traction in China and it will be interesting to see how it develops as China becomes more open and additional non-profits attempt to move into the country.

    On a side note- the soup dumplings at lunch were perhaps the best meal we had up until that point. If it were ever in doubt, the line outside of the place certainly verified the fact that they were good. Also- was anyone else aware that McDonald’s delivers in China?

  14. Joel Goering Says:

    As someone who worked in the non-profit sector for five years prior to business school and who expects to return to the non-profit sector after school with the goal of using business skills to improve “social returns,” the visit to Junior Achievement was of particular interest to me.

    As others have noted, one of the most striking take-aways from the JA presentation was the fact that volunteerism is a relatively recent phenomenon in China. In fact, the entire concept of a civil society, non-governmental organization that is not designed to make profit is still greeted with skepticism by many Chinese. This is one area that will be interesting to watch in coming years as China continues its economic development. As the country’s GDP per capita grows and more and more people join the middle class, will a burgeoning civil society/NGO/non-profit industry emerge within China? As people become wealthier, presumably they will have more leisure time to volunteer and more disposable income to donate.

    It’s also fascinating to speculate whether the growth of the non-profit industry will also contribute to China’s political liberalization. In a state-controlled economic and political system, ordinary citizens have much lower propensity to volunteer and donate money because the government is expected to do everything. However, in a market-driven economic system with greater political freedoms, ordinary citizens demonstrate a higher propensity to volunteer and donate money because the government has a more limited role and people must step in to fill the gap. NGO’s also frequently lobby and advocate on behalf of their constituents toward government, making dissenting or minority voices heard. So for China, with its current market-oriented economic system coupled with its strict authoritarian political system, the evolution and growth of the non-profit sector will perhaps impact the opening up of the political system.

  15. Jason Trkovsky Says:

    The Yu Garden and surrounding area was a beautiful and bustling area, the highlight of which was the soup dumplings at lunch. I think we went too far into this trip before sampling these tasty delights. They were a welcome break from squirrel fish and tiny shrimp. I of course managed to get some of the pork grease on my shirt, but it was well worth it. After our company visit with Celanese a few us returned to try to find and negotiate deals on pearls. This is an exhausting process even at a legit store. Although I love getting a great deal, it does make me thankful for the system here in the States. I value the great deal as much as I value expedience with which the transaction can be made.

    I didn’t quite know what to expect with the Chinese Acrobat show, but it was nothing short of amazing. I almost wish I had violated the no photography rule like so many other rude tourists (none from our group of course).

  16. Juan Carlos Vallarino Says:

    Having volunteered for Junior Achievement in Panama, it was great to hear how this organization has been growing consistently in China over the last couple of years. It was also interesting to hear the challenges they are facing by getting donations from companies, which sometimes prefer to support Chinese, government supported social organizations.

    After our Junior Achievement visit we ate soup dumplings which I found to be amazing!! Even though I had dumplings before, the soup aspect was something new for me. Although I experienced some problems at first learning how to eat the dumplings without spilling the soup inside, I quickly grasped the technique and had a great meal! I am hoping that I can find a place of soup dumplings here in Austin!

  17. Killian Lapeyre Says:

    I think we all hoped to work with some of the kids at Junior Achievement. Learning about the organization both in China and worldwide was interesting enough and gave me my first real exposure to a worldwide non-profit.

    Lunch, however, was the highlight of the morning. Soup dumplings and numerous random appetizers were awesome! After lunch, the Celanese visit gave us exposure to commodity businesses in China, and the challenges of such a global corporation. Fortunately, Celanese is also located near The Shanghai World Financial Center (the Bottle Opener), giving a few of us the opportunity to go to the top. And, as amazing as the second tallest building in the world is, I was equally shocked by the fact that a taller building is under construction next door.

    The acrobatics show that evening completely exceeded expectations. It was at the hotel, and I was expecting a small show in a hotel ballroom. Instead, we were in a full auditorium with a team of 30 acrobats performing stunts I’ve never seen before. I now understand why the Chinese are so good at gymnastics.

  18. Ian Vaisman Says:

    Another day, another garden. No, seriously this garden was beautiful and our tour was aided by our great guide Minnie (based on the Walt Disney’ character).
    The day actually started with our visit to JAL (that’s not Japan Airlines, but the Junior Achievement League). This visit hit home for me since I’d worked so many years in public education before coming to business school. In my public education years I had the opportunity to interact with the folks from JAL in Houston, and I made sure to tell the people in Shanghai how valuable and important their labor is. What they and their volunteers do is really commendable.
    This highlights the importance given to education in China. I think that education will be the great determinant of China’s future success. As long as the government can provide opportunities for all their citizens, especially in the rural areas, I don’t see anything stopping the Chinese juggernaut.

    The Chinese acrobatics show at night was amazing. I saw more contortionists in one stage than I had seen all my life. The nimbleness of the Chinese dancers were remarkable. And the colors of the backdrop and their outfits only added to the experience. I can definitely now say that the Chinese have the best acrobats in the world. Maybe the Russians have something to say to that.

    • Ian Vaisman Says:

      I forgot to comment on our visit to Celanese. I think the McCombs group left a great impression there so Anthony was probably proud of us. The executives who presented where a mix of backgrounds and nationalities. This made for a very interesting presentation. It was really interesting to find a McCombs alum there and as he shared his experiences I could understand how maybe one day I would also take a job with a stint in Shanghai. I will have to apologize again publicly for mangling his name, not once but twice. But, don’t worry Corvett now I won’t do it ever again!

  19. Dorothy Says:

    What a day!
    It started with Junior Achievement, which I enjoyed learning about because I had no idea such a program existed. I try to be extremely involved in community programs like that, so I am wondering why I didn’t know about it? Slightly confused as to why we first walked into the Mary Kay Office of Shanghai but quickly figured it all out and thought highly of Mary Kay to share their valuable resources. I think JA sounded like a great program, but it could use a little more publicity? The fact thet volunteering/charity work in China is a new phenomenon is absolutely mind-blowing. And the fact they participate for ulterior motives and not the “feel good” is even more mind blowing.
    Yu Garden was my favorite garden! My grandmother loved Chinese culture and had a huge Chinese garden in her backyard. This took me right back.
    Topped off with the TASTY dumplings stuffed with warm soup AND a green tea blizzard and life was GOOD. I am serious when I say I will be thinking about those dumplings for years to come and they’ll get me back there sooner rather than later. Poor Orlando, who had the unfortunate task of sitting next to me at lunch while I continued to battle with my chopsticks.

  20. Jeff Harbach Says:

    Busy day, and another good one. Junior Achievement was great, and I especially loved hearing their message because I have 4 daughters. I love their mission, and this was one of the first things I told my wife about upon my return to the states. The garden was really neat, even though by this time I was growing tired of gardens. It was probably one of the nicer and more enjoyable gardens we saw, and it was so cool that it was buried within the city.

    Lunch was one of the highlights of the day, as it was something different…soup dumplings! Yum!!! What a difference it made to have something different for a change.

    I also really enjoyed the acrobat show that evening. It solidified for me why the Chinese are consistently on top of the world rankings in gymnastics. Amazing. I think some of those gymnastics have rubber for bones! What a show!!

    Spent the night preparing for our presentation tomorrow. Should be a good one, and we’re looking forward to it!

  21. Liz Eppler Says:

    As we walked into the office for Junior Acheivement, I was secretly hoping we were going to have a meeting about Mary Kay instead because I had to throw away my prized Mary Kay makeup remover when I flew from Beijing to Shanghai. Unfortunately for me, Mary Kay just shares their office with Junior Acheivement. This is the first time I’ve really heard about JA, and I got a really good first impression. Education is a huge industry in China since it is so hard to get into college.

    We then went to Shanghai’s ‘Chinatown’ as Minnie coined it, and it is what everyone expects to see when they go to China. Lots of red, curvy roofs, etc. We went through more gardens, and these seem to be more artistic than the other gardens we have been to. We then had the most delicious lunch ever – soup dumplings!! I hope I find a place here in the US that has something comparable!

    Celanese was next, and it was interesting to get another expat perspective. The company seems to be quite successful worldwide, including China. Also that day we got to see Chinese acrobats and they did some stunts that I had never seen anything like before! Very entertaining!

  22. Will Bridges Says:

    Learning about Junior Achievement was cool, I didn’t know much about them because I’ve never worked at a company that got involved. Celanese was very interesting and their office was really nice! I could be mistaken, but it seemed that in a very professional way, they were basically telling us that they make cigarette filters. I’m sure it’s a great business.

    I wish I could be back at the Dim-Sum place right now. I would have definitely eaten more than I did, even though I stuffed myself. Those little soup dumplings are soooo good. The acrobat show was amazing! At this point in the trip, I remember thinking to myself that you could pretty much show me anything mind blowing and it wouldn’t surprise me. My mind had been blown so many times by this point that it was desensitized. Having that said, the acrobats were definitely mind blowing.

  23. Paulo Martin Says:

    I was really interested in the work done by Junior Achievement. One of my objectives when I return to Brazil is to help improve the chances of less priviledged chindren and teenagers of getting a good education, being successful and achieving their dreams and that is what Junior Achievement is doing for them in China.

    The Celanese presentation gave us yet another perspective about doing business in China and how that is done by a company that has such a strong focus in safety. It was particularly interesting because safety doesn’t seem to be such a big concern for the Chinese companies so Celanese takes the responsibility of teaching their employees about that and of in some way bringing this culture to China.

    The Acrobatics Show was a nice ending for the day. It was possible to realize that every act was a result of the discipline and effort of everyone involved on the show. And those are carachteristics that permeate how chinese face a lot of aspects of their lives.

  24. Margaret Cheng Says:

    The western world is vocally critical of China’s approach to what it views as basic human rights regarding freedom of speech, the one-child policy, legal access, and capital punishment. Today, the front page article on the Shanghai newspaper was about US human rights abuses. It discussed how women in the US don’t share equal rights with men, people are more likely to be victims of rape and violent crime in the US, the US imprisons its youth in juvenile detention centers, and it lets millions of people die each year because of inadequate insurance policies. Propaganda can be so funny.

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