Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to go into business. I remember summers at my childhood home where I’d gather the neighborhood kids to decide what we were going to do that day: start a neighborhood newspaper, sell lemonade, or sell handmade bracelets. Although I kept this interest as I grew up, I realized that business is more complicated than just selling jewelry for $0.50. Today, businesses are met with many issues and span farther than a simple one-mile radius. Traveling to China and studying their economy has given me a better view on the enormity of business transactions. I have learned so much on this two-week trip that I am very thankful for. The three words that immediately come to mind when I think of China are growing, community, and traditional. China has come a long way through what is called “China’s economic miracle.” In the last 40 years, so much has been built and done to improve the economy. Despite this, China still holds its traditional values close to heart and its seen through its everyday way of life. They value community and because of this they are growing together.
With the use of big data, companies are left to decide what to do with customer information. Visiting Huawei made me realize the true power that customer information provides companies. It’s their duty to use this information responsibly. This is the case for all business practices such as how corporation’s report their financials. They could “cook the books” by providing false information and overstating their profits. Even though Huawei isn’t a publicly funded business, they still report their financials every year to remain transparent. One of the reasons Huawei is having a hard time penetrating the American smartphone market is because people are concerned that this Chinese company will steal American citizens’ information. Cyber security is a big concern brought up when discussing this company. So, they must build up trust within their country before releasing it to other countries.
Business is so much more than just buying or selling items. And with the growth of technology, it’s only getting more complex. Estimating demand and making just the right amount of product is difficult and many people study the market to perfect it. It’s important to know the market and how industries interact to succeed today. It’s not enough to be knowledgeable in one industry. By having knowledge of a wide variety of business specialties, it will help any individual make more well-informed decisions. It struck me when visiting Horiba how diversified they are. Horiba is focused on technology but participates in several sectors.
There is so much we can learn about business by studying other cultures. Other economies differ from ours and knowing why can help us succeed. E-commerce is a big source of profit in China but when Amazon tried to establish themselves there, it wasn’t as successful as they thought. This is because Amazon did not properly understand China’s social environment. We need to know the people of a community to be able to sell them a product. This study abroad program was only my first step in studying other cultures. Tim, a transfer student from the United States at ECUST, had the right idea by moving his family to China to fully immerse himself in the culture to learn about it.
Chinese and American business cultures are different. China mixes business and personal lives. The Chinese value personal relationships and use these relationships to make business decisions. In America, people can do business with each other even if they did not know them prior to the deal. Regardless of the culture, respect needs to be shared. When talking to the Pitt alum, she said she once gave a poor presentation, but her coworker said not to worry because the presentation was only a formality and that her relationship with the client mattered more. Although I like how the stress is off that one interaction, it’s often hard to establish relationships once entering a new industry.
Diversity is very important regardless of what we’re talking about. Diversity – whether it be gender, age, race, skill set – is important to success. Different views to a situation can help solve a problem. While working on a team with one other business student, and two engineering students, I could see how our problem-solving skills differed. Even walking on the Great Wall, an engineering student was focused on the drainage system while that never crossed my mind. Especially when thinking about a problem we’ve all encountered in China; the engineers were able to incorporate artificial intelligence into a solution. Then the other business student and I investigated the logistics behind the market we would be entering and to see if there would be any demand. Together, we created an entire business plan. The power of different skills and seeing a situation from all perspectives is very important.
I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given, and I have gotten so much out of this: learning, friends, and experiences. I encourage all freshmen to apply to the Plus3 program as I know this will be crucial to my academic and professional success.