Sam Goldman, '14, '15 MSMS, and 25 other members of the Class of 2015 from the Kellogg School of Management's Master of Science in Management Studies (MSMS) program recently spent a week in China to learn about the history, culture, and business environment of the world's fastest-growing economy. Below is Sam's account of the trip.
We departed Chicago, and 14 hours later, arrived in Shanghai. With time at a premium, we spent our first full day meeting with managers at General Motors Shanghai. We learned about the unique complexities of China’s automotive market and how GM has adapted to them. GM operates as a joint venture with the car firm SAIC, a state-owned enterprise, which led us to the insight that large multinational companies (MNC) may have to adapt similarly to do business in China.
Our first evening, the Kellogg Alumni Club of Shanghai welcomed our entourage to a panel discussion and networking event featuring seasoned professionals describing how they built their careers in China. We were thrilled by the opportunity to hear from them first-hand.
The Team Strategy Project is a core component of our final grade in our global management course. This year, students are taking an in-depth look at Starbucks China as our American MNC operating in China. We’ll analyze Starbucks’ strategic challenge, which is exciting in light of the company’s announced ambition to grow from 1,500 stores to more than 3,400 by 2019.
At Starbucks China’s presentation, we began with a coffee tasting of China’s own unique blend (grown in the Yunnan province), and we learned what makes China such a promising market for the coffee company. We gained insight about the unique core culture at Starbucks, and how the company has translated it to the Chinese market. After the presentation, we asked many questions about how the company plans to deal with certain challenges, and garnered some inside information to aid with our final strategy projects.
No trip to China would be complete without experiencing more than the business culture. We had the opportunity to climb the Great Wall of China, and we toured Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Many students took advantage of free time to explore interesting parts of Shanghai and Beijing, including the Bund in Shanghai, and the Olympic Village and Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
In Beijing, a local family prepared lunch for us in one of the undeveloped parts of the city, called hutongs. Beyond this uniquely experiential meal, we also sampled a variety of local cuisine, including two of Beijing’s most famous dishes: Peking Duck, and Hot Pot — both delicious. One student remarked, “We came to China for business, but we stayed for the food!” And although we did, in fact, come home, our trip to China was an enlightening, unforgettable experience that broadened our horizons academically — and culturally.