March 16, 2010 Consulting Projects Night Cruise

Say it isn’t so, but today was the last official day of the program!  Already!  Amazing.  Today Yihaodian, Chic, Trend, and Praxis all got to give there final presentations, while others went in small groups to visit with Prent and Spring Global.  It seemed like everyone came back with cool gifts too.  Tell us about your company visits today.  What have they taught you about your own perceptions, ideas, and opinions about work in China?

A little cruise on the Pujiang River and a little karaoke and we’re closing the program off in style.  Yes, that was Joel rappin’ and yes, Kylia probably did lose her voice from singing nearly every song!

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24 Responses to “March 16, 2010 Consulting Projects Night Cruise”

  1. Shelli Dunigan Says:

    Not only is today our last day of the group trip, but it was also the day that my group presented our consulting project for OpenLanguage, a potential new product by Praxis Language. While I do not believe that we provided any new insights that they had not previously considered, we did seem to help reinforce some of their thoughts and ideas which I believe was a positive impact. One of the things that most caught me off guard when visiting their offices, was the diversity of their staff. Nationalities ranged from Irish to Brazilian to American to Chinese and the size of the staff looked to be approximately 50 people. For weeks, our group has been working on a project for a company that seemed unreal since we had not had any personal interactions with any of them. This reinforces the importance of immersing yourself, as a consultant, into a company’s operations and culture, before solid, coherent recommendations can really make a strong impact. We did our best to gather as much information on the company as possible, but there would be no way to truly obtain as much information as needed without spending more time with the staff. Therefore, our recommendations were based on many assumptions, of which some proved to be correct and some incorrect.

  2. Nori Harada Says:

    Today our team visited Springs Global who makes linen sheets and covers which are sold at Wal-Mart and Target in the States. The office building was little bit far away from Shanghai city center, but very next to the office building the old houses were being destroyed and new building was being constructed. During the meeting the noise from the construction site was loud, but I took this as a real Shanghai. The meeting was very interactive and informative. Their strategy was not to own the production factories and to efficiently source the production to factories in China. They told us frankly how they tackled the challenges that they were facing as well as how it was like to live in China as an expat. One of the things that he was most missing was blue-sky. I totally agree with him even based on my just 10 day visit.

  3. Jennifer Woods Says:

    After our interesting cab ride, we were fortunate enough to arrive in one piece for our consulting project presentation. Our visit/presentation with YiHaoDian went extremely well. It was great having involvement from so many individuals at the company. It was interesting how the YiHaoDian team would switch back and forth between English and Chinese during the presentation discussion. Even though I couldn’t understand some of the actual words being used, the body language was absolutely clear. I guess it’s true what they say about verbal and nonverbal communication. I also enjoyed interacting with the YiHaoDian team members during lunch after our presentation. I learned a lot about China just listening to the experiences and opinions of the team members. It was great sharing stories and laughs over a meal.

    It was an absolute pleasure working with Kylia and Ian on this project. They are truly talented and my experience working with them was awesome! I am thankful I had the opportunity to share this experience with them in this capacity.

    After the visit, we had the rest of the day to explore the city. We went to HaaagenDazs for Ice cream. We were greeted at the door and offered a menu. When we sat down to eat our ice cream, we received water with lemon with two large monitors displaying the most delicious pictures of ice cream in the background. I must say the ice cream parlor was an experience!

    After wading through rush hour traffic by foot, cab, and subway (along with a wrong location on the way) we were able to meet up with the group for karaoke. I had an amazing time at the karaoke bar! Spending 3+ hours singing tunes from various decades was a perfect way to end the trip. We were able to share laughs, songs, lyrics, and dance steps right in the middle of Shanghai! Main takeaways: Rush hour traffic is a force to be reckoned with and; Music is a universal and uniting force. If you can’t carry a tune with a bucket, just dance or pick a song people can’t help but sing to so they can drown you out!

  4. Scott Eberle Says:

    Today Ben Ryan set a group of us up with his family’s company, Prent. Here we had the opportunity to tour a factory facility that manufactures plastic packaging material for electronics. It was great to see the difference between how this factory looked and ran vs the factory we had visited earlier in the week. This factory was much more modern and provided better safety equipment for its employees. This was one of many factories the company has around the world and it was interesting to hear how it fit into the larger corporation. When asked why they opened a facility outside of Shanghai the reasoning was no surprise, because of the lower cost of labor, but what was very interesting was the additional incentives the Chinese government provided in order to entice the company. Previously I had thought that the low labor costs would be enough to attract companies but apparently with so many low cost labor options in the region there needed to be additional incentives.

  5. Eugenie Lum Says:

    Nori, Joel and I went to Springs Global, a fashion textile sourcing company for large retail stores around the world. US Walmart used to be its biggest client, with a 50% of revenue share. Things have changed alot for Springs Global now, according the person in charge, Qi Tu, Springs Global has changed from being a linen manufacturer to a textile sourcing company. Moving up in the value chain, the company has been looking at different ways of growing its business and making the business model sustainable. Springs Global has recently added an in-house fashion design house to offer more value proposition to its customers. However, training the young, creative Chinese designers to understand US customer needs is difficult. Therefore, Springs Global tried to differentiate by changing the linen packaging. It was an indeed a valuable trip, I learned so much on how a 100 year-old legacy firm changes its business model in order to survive in the crowded market.

  6. Adam Staley Says:

    Chic Quality Foods is a part of a larger Chic company that includes an investments arm and several other diversified business ventures. The food business, centered on long-lasting packaged fruit cups, remains the core of their business and generates the cash that allows Chic to move into other business areas. They currently have an exclusive contract with a major fruit company to supply most of their precut, packaged fruit products. Interesting enough, only 2% of their business is local to China.

    The CEO, Robert Wu, is native to Shanghai and a Stanford MBA. After our presentation, Robert shared with us an executive presentation he made at the company-wide meeting. The important takeaway from this was the importance of innovation in the face of rising Chinese wages, the eventual elimination of labor arbitrage opportunities, increasing commodity and transportation prices and other factors that will shrink margins on their core fruit products and manufactured products in general. Sworn to secrecy, the one thing I will add is that our project was one of the “innovation” steps in expanding their core business.

  7. Edyth Adedeji Says:

    I was a part of team Prent today and I was glad to have been there. Our host’s presentation was thorough and well detailed. I don’t think I’ve ever thought much about the packaging industry but I learned so much about it today. They had really good sample packages, to give us a good idea of the requirements for the different industries that they work for. We learned the strategy behind their location – close enough to multiple client/delivery sites, requirements of their clients for JIT delivery, the elimination of the competition for employees in industrial parks and of course some tax incentives. We also got to tour the plant and its clean room – we saw the different production lines detailing the different steps along the way to produce certain goods. We were given watches as gift :). It was truly a well organized visit – Thank you Ben.

    Jen and I were with Eugenie exploring a trendy site close to the bund. We had a good time but our taxi cab ended up dropping us at the wrong location so we missed the cruise but somehow our timing was perfect as we were able to meet up with the rest of the class just after the cruise at the bus.

    I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the class portion than to have Karaoke. Music is truly universal, regardless of my lack of singing talents, we all had fun songs to sing – Abba, and Michael Jackson but nothing could truly top Joel’s rendition of Jay Z’s New York – It had to be by far my most memorable song.

  8. Ben Ryan Says:

    As was mentioned in Scott & Edyth’s posts, a group of us went to go visit another manufacturing facility owned by Prent Thermoforming (a company owned by a relative of mine). I had high expectations for the visit which were easily surpassed, and I was thrilled to see how much everyone else in the group enjoyed it. I have know that the company has been thriving and rapidly expanding over the last 10 or so years, but this was my first chance to sneak a peak of the company from the inside. Edyth hit a lot of their strategy we leaned about, but it was great to see how well managed the plant was and how much detail they took towards safety and productivity. I loved some of the sayings I saw there such as the sign on one of the machines saying “Hands ‘IN’ could mean hands ‘OFF’, keep hands clear” accompanied by a drawing of a hand being severed in the machine (humorous and effective at the same time). Or the sayings in the office portion of the building like “Avoid Avoiding”, something worth living by. Even though the company ownership is not a part of my immediate family, I was very proud of the culture and work ethic we saw there. I’d like to say thanks to Danial, Edyth, Jason, Liz, Scott & Steve for asking such great questions and making the visit go as well as it did!

    The boat cruise was a little chilly but made for some more great pictures. It was however overshadowed by an epic night of Karaoke! I’m so glad that happened, I’d been wanting a big Karaoke night the whole trip. Even through the music selection wasn’t to outstanding, I don’t think we could have capped off the end of the official portion of the trip any better!

  9. Lindsay Conant Says:

    Today we gave our presentation to Trend, a tie manufacturer. We weren’t sure what to expect as our contact didn’t speak English and the owner of the company wasn’t coming. We soon learned that both of the women representing Trend did not speak English so Anthony was charged with translating the entire presentation. This really showcased to all of us how difficult it can be doing business in other countries, especially if you don’t speak the language. Anthony explained to us that many of the works we use, especially in the business world, don’t translate to Mandarin. Overall, our presentation was well-received and I think they took away some useful recommendations.

    After our presentations, we treated ourselves to massages – if only they were this cheap in the US. Our fabulous trip was topped off with a beautiful riverboat night cruise and some amazing karaoke!!

  10. Leslie Farish Says:

    As Lindsay and I greeted the Shanghai sun on our last morning as roomates on the China Global tour, I couldn’t believe that the trip was really coming to a close. While the tighter clothes, scratchy throat, and lack of clean clothes were all evidence of where we had been, what we had eaten, and what we had done, something that hit me that last morning in Shanghai was that I just want to remember everything – every little detail, from the conversations, to the faces of the people, to the lasting friendships that I cemented on this trip.

    The morning started off bright and early with our presentation to Trend at 9:00 am. It had been interesting to prepare research on incentive structure and best practices, manufacturing metrics, and cash conversion, but a big round of applause to Anthony for helping to translate the entire presentation from English to Mandarin for our non-English speaking audience! While I think Trend will benefit from some of the recommendations that we made, it was interesting to see how the conversation took a much different direction than what I had anticipated over calls and emails. As Orlando had suggested, Trend really seemed to want to have a more casual conversation, and more of their questions for us centered around our thoughts on the real estate market in China and other investment opportunities that we thought the company should be considering. It was definitely interesting to have the opportunity to express our opinions in this type of a setting, although I must say I definitely don’t feel like the investment expert!

    After our presentation, the ladies of Trend (Heidi, Dorothy, Lindsay, and myself) decided to unwind with a fabulous $30 massage at Dragonfly spa, just minutes from the hotel. Seriously, people weren’t kidding when they said that the massages in China were great and cheap! What a great way to finish off a long trip and a long day!

    The night cruise on the Pudong was an amazing way to see the city at night and prepare for our kareoke sing-songing fest that was to ensure a few hours after! After spending an hour taking in the views of the city, it was great to finally pop into “Cash Bar” to listen to my fellow MBA comrades dazzle us with their vocals. I think the best performance of the evening goes to Heidi for her rendition of Barbie Girl, with runner up going to Cory for her fabulous Beatles performance. Encore Encore! Salazar definitely wowed the ladies with his tenor vocals, and Jennifer proved she is definitely the next Jennifer Hudson. Impressive singing lady!

  11. Daniel Harrison Says:

    The Prent factory visit was my favorite of the whole trip. The journey from central Shanghai had taken almost an hour by cab and made us question at times the wisdom of the company selection, but Ben clearly has a future in PR should he choose it, because Prent rolled out the red carpet for us from the moment our party of seven turned up. Our hosts were charming, attentive and very professional. The factory itself was like thermoforming heaven, if there is such a place, with thin gage (2mm thickness) packaging of various types being mass produced, inspected and packed before our eyes. Jason was keen to see the iPod, iPhone and iPad packaging fresh off the press as he is due to join Apple upon graduation. There can’t be many people in Apple who have seen this side of the business first-hand, so hopefully he can pick up some brownie points if he bumps into Jonathan Ive (the British-born designer of the iPod) or Steve Jobs!

    The karoke evening following the river cruise was, in Steve Salazar’s oft-quoted phrase, AMAZING. I thought that the group deserved a big night out, we had collectively worked hard and made a real effort to represent the McCombs brand abroad. Orlando’s take on Bill Withers was an early highlight, and Joel’s raps were without equal. I enjoyed belting out George Michael and Rick Astley, and the combination of friends, beer, pizza and karoke was unbeatable; definitely my favorite night in China.

  12. Patrick O'Berry Says:

    On this morning, we presented the results of our consulting project to Chic Foods group in Shanghai. We were fortunate enough to have the CEO present, and everyone certainly seemed appreciative of the work we had done. Because we had already presented our project to Chic’s American representative while still in Austin, we had a very good idea of what to expect, which took a great deal of the pressure off of our presentation.

    The truly interesting portion of the visit was when Robert Wu- the CEO shared his thoughts on how to develop a culture of innovation within an organization. While the presentation was geared at innovation in any company, I thought it was interesting to hear it from a Chinese perspective. It certainly hit home the point we had heard before coming to China that innovation is a problem in the country, as the economy has been driven by human capital and manufacturing to this point. It really is a challenge for Chinese companies to put a culture in place that encourages employees to generate new ideas and push them upwards to management.

  13. Heidi Burns Says:

    10 days in Asia. This is definitely one off the reasons I went to business school. I love to travel and being able to have the experience of traveling with a group of my peers made this trip very unique and memorable. I enjoyed getting to know everyone in the group better throughout our 10 days. I think we may have had the best global group of 2010. Although, 10 days is only a taste of China, I know feel so much more empowered to speak about China in class or everyday discussions.

    As for our consulting project, today was the day we gave our final presentation to Trend. Unfortunately, Anthony had to do most of the presenting (well, translating) since the Trend team did not speak English. It’s apparent that English does not translate easily into Mandarin. Anthony was either trying to explain our version in a couple different ways or was adding a little of his own touch to the presentation! We may just never know. I was surprised with how sophisticated their plant seemed to be and with the quality of their products. This was unexpected based on some of our prior discussions over the phone.

    The night ended with a fantastic river cruise and karaoke. I’ll admit, I was waiting for a night of karaoke. Cash bar definitely exceeded my expectations. I loved that the whole group got into the night and belted out the tunes. Corey-I need to see all those photos that you snapped.

  14. Joel Goering Says:

    Eugenie, Nori and I visited with Springs Global, a 120-year-old U.S.-based company that has undergone significant change in the last couple decades in response to changing market conditions and macroeconomic forces. Previously, the company actually manufactured textiles directly in its own U.S. factories. However, with the availability of lower-cost labor overseas and U.S. consumers’ preference for low-cost, “value” products, Springs made the decision to shutter its U.S. factories and move production abroad, while maintaining corporate sales and marketing States-side. Now, even more recently, they have become a “virtual manufacturer” – that is, they no longer manufacture in China; instead, they source supplies in China from other manufacturers and then sell the products to U.S.-based retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. Coinciding with China’s early steps up the value chain away from low-cost manufacturing and toward product innovation and services, Springs is now seeking to differentiate itself on product development and a focus on fashion and style for non-commoditized home textiles.

    Interesting side note: Qi Tu, our company point-of-contact at Springs, is actually a friend of Steve (Zhen) Wang’s and will be pursuing a specialized one-year MBA at MIT Sloan starting this June.

    Lastly

  15. Joel Goering Says:

    …I too had a blast at karaoke, or “KTV” as it’s called in China. It was a great way to sign off from the “New York of the East” – Shanghai. Glad that I could throw down some rhymes and represent for UT, fo’ shizzle. No doubt I will be stacking that paper and livin’ the dream in the near future. Have your people call my people. Look for a follow-up performance later this spring at 2010 MBA Revue. 😉

    Seriously, though, I really enjoyed hanging out and partying with everyone on this last night…it was definitely a memorable experience.

    Plus, I was finally able to give my friend’s brother, Tom, his specially-requested Kashi cereal directly “imported” from the States. It was the least I could do after he graciously showed us around a few days before and helped Killian, Adam and I purchase our suits.

  16. Jason Trkovsky Says:

    This day was a great way to cap off the trip. Our small group had a great company visit with Prent (a company owned by someone in Ben’s family). Not only are there products pretty cool, but the manufacturing operations are top-notch, the polar opposite of Starrett in fact. Basically, they manufacture the plastic trays that the iPods and iPhones sit in within the cardboard packaging, among other items for the high-tech and medical industries. The manufacturing takes place in a clean room environment, so we had to wear shoe covers, lab coats, and hair caps for the tour, but we did get to see the sample tray they are making for the iPad…very cool.

    A small group of us also went to the SWFC (the bottle opener) in the late afternoon/evening so try to get picture both at sunset and at night. We got some incredible pictures of the city from the 100th floor observation deck, then jogged on over to just make the boat cruise.

    After the cruise, on to KTV. I don’t have much to add after all the other comments except that it was nothing short of “AMAZING”. Also, I’m still amazed that Scott knew and sang all the words to a Taylor Swift song without looking at the screen once.

  17. Juan Carlos Vallarino Says:

    This was definitely one of the most relaxing and fun days of the trip for me. Given the fact that my group had done our small company visit to Lenovo and had given our company presentation to Starrett, we had a free day where I had the chance to explore Shanghai on my own! I spent the morning walking around Nanjing Road, which is the main shopping street of Shanghai located in the center of the city. I was impressed to see how westernized this part of the city looked, and how diverse the city population is. There were people from all over the world, types of races, and different nationalities, who speaking different languages! I also had the chance to have my second lunch at “Pho Sizzling”, which I would really recommend to anyone going back to Shanghai. The food was great and reasonably priced!
    The night cruise and the karaoke where an excellent way to conclude our Global Class. I really enjoyed singing and hanging out with everyone and was really surprised by Joel’s rapping skills!

  18. Dorothy Says:

    What we had all been waiting for…our big reveal with China. It was a little more flavorful than I anticipated given that none of us speak Chinese and none of them spoke English. I have never experienced an entire presentation translated right before my eyes. It was difficult to gauge their reactions based on language and body language when I had no idea what was being said. Another novel experience. Language barriers really DO inhibit communication. They were kind enough to bring us gifts of scarves and ties, so hopefully they walked away with some nugget of information in return.
    I thought the boat cruise was an incredible touch top wrap up such a great trip. More great photos procured there.
    And Karoake? Need I go on? I was BEYOND impressed with the vocals we had hidden in our group. Thanks, guys! I had a fabulous time.

  19. Jeff Harbach Says:

    What a day! Even though we were all sad that it would be our last day together as a group (I really enjoyed this group), we really ended on a high note. Day started off with Patrick, Adam, Killian and I being picked up by Chic’s driver and taken to their offices. We went in thinking it would be really informal and that we might not present. Boy were we wrong. However, it really went well. I think they were pleased with the work we did, and I was certainly pleased with the information they shared with us. Their CEO (a Stanford MBA) shared his presentation on innovation that blew my socks off. I loved it, and have corresponded with Chic headquarters telling them as much. Ended our visit with a great lunch at a Chinese fusion restaurant right next to our hotel. Awesome morning/afternoon.

    Everything else about the day was great, but I can’t go without mentioning the talent that we saw at karaoke that night. There were many superstars, but the show stopper was for sure Joel Goering! He lit it up with his mad rap skillz. Nice work LL Cool “J”.

  20. Ian Vaisman Says:

    The big day arrived for Team Hook ‘Em! As we drove around Shanghai in one of it’s taxis from hell (I mean, I grew up in South America, but people in China are really terrible drivers!) we didn’t really know what to expect for our presentation at YiHaoDian.
    Upon our arrival we were greeted by Shiley and we were asked to wait for Gang in his office (we were a little early after all, but better that then being late!)
    After talking with our classmates we were expecting this meeting to be more of a conversation than anything else. Ohh were we wrong about that!
    Gang Yu showed up with his usual smile and asked us to follow him into their conference room. In there we learned that there would be around 8 people present in the room. Then he specifically asked us if we could give a presentation. Luckily, we had our slide deck ready and we took to the task.
    As I opened up the presentation I noticed some late executives filing into the room. By the time when Kylia and Jennifer got going Gang had stopped the presentation twice to bring in more people.
    He really appreciated our worked and said we had come up with some great recommendations. I humbly think we did great and represented McCombs properly. Cory can attest to this as she was at the meeting too. I actually think that she might have been offered a position to work at YiHaoDian!

    After the meeting, Gang graciously invited the 4 of us for lunch. We went with his leadership team to a restaurant and had what would turned out to be our last Lazy Susan meal of the trip. We shared a drink with Gang and his team, and once again the word “Kambei” was embedded in our Chinese Vocabulary.

    The night was the perfect event to end our trip. A fantastic, albeit, cold night cruise on the Punjiang River set up the night for the festivities to come.
    We ended up showing our talents at a local Karaoke place that Minnie had reserved for us. Beer and Pizza were had, and everyone had a merry old time!

  21. Liz Eppler Says:

    I was one of the fortunate few that got to visit Prent. This company makes plastic packaging that goes into such products as iPods and iPhones. Ben’s dad’s cousin’s husband owns this company, and is doing quite well as it seems. We got to dress up in clean room clothes and we even got free watches as a thank you gift for coming! I was impressed by the professionalism of the people working there as well as the large customers they have. They mentioned they don’t have the same turnover as companies in Suzhou because they don’t have a large concentration of similar factories nearby. They are currently working overtime to try to get the iPad packaging out the door, and the employees do get paid time and a half, which is great.

    I then went to the financial tower (the bottle opener) to view all the new buildings in downtown Shanghai. It was a little scary being so high, but once I got used to it, I realized how gorgeous everything was from that height. We then went on a boat cruise and saw everything from a different angle.

    Finally, we had a great time at karoke. I will remember this trip for the rest of my life, and I appreciate everyone for making it such an enjoyable experience.

  22. Killian Lapeyre Says:

    Today, we met with the executives of Chic Foods. Since we already presented to our contact in Austin, we were unsure whether we were presenting again. We ended up doing a full formal presentation. They liked our ideas, asked a lot of questions then gave us their presentation. The presentation was insightful and broke down their views on innovation, the changing global economic environment, and the opportunities of business in China. The presentation made me realize Chic was a lot more than just a fruit company. Instead, they’re an investment company picking and choosing businesses and industries worldwide. Their expansion will be interesting to watch, and I am curious to see if they accurately read US markets.

    The boat cruise that evening topped off an amazing trip. Seeing the whole city from the river and the whole class embracing karaoke was the perfect finish. I was particularly impressed with Joel’s work on the microphone. Well done, Joel!!

  23. Paulo Martin Says:

    What can I say? I was nice to be able to sleep late after all the early wake up days we went through.

    Me, Robson and Juan went out for a walk. We met with some of the girls of our group and, after some indecision, me and Robson went to the People’s Square with Heidi while Juan went back with the rest of them to have something to eat.

    After walking around People’s Square Heidi went back because she had an appointment and me and Robson continued walking until the Bund. We returned to the Hotel by subway to get ready for the night cruise.

    The night cruise gave us a nice opportunity to have an overall view of Shanghai by night and take some pictures. Even though the weather was very cold.

    The Karaoke was the perfect ending to this part of the trip. Everyone had the opportunity to show their talents and the best part is that we managed to have the whole group together for one more time before we went our own ways for the remaining of Spring Break.

  24. Will Bridges Says:

    Today we finally made our presentation to Praxis Language. Presenting on the last day of the trip had its advantages. For one thing, our presentation changed dramatically after being in China for ten days. While we were able to come up with a broad understanding of the challenges our company faced from a U.S. perspective, we were able to understand and much more narrowly define them after seeing China first hand. After the presentation, Orlando and I had lunch with some of the people from Praxis and then it was back to the hotel to pack (ugh).

    The boat cruise and karaoke were a perfect way to end the trip (and yes, Joel did absolutely rip it on the mic). Thanks to everyone for such a rich and memorable experience!

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