Day 2 in Shanghai started off with one of my favorite visits of the whole trip: the American Chamber of Commerce (or AmCham). I really didn’t have the highest hopes going into it because you hear chamber of commerce here and just think of a bunch of people talking about pretty boring stuff. But the AmCham visit had by far the best conversation of any outing. Upon our arrival, we were introduced to our presenters, Chris and Daniel. Daniel worked for AmCham with the responsibility of government relations and Chris was actually employed by PNC in Shanghai to work with their corporate clients there. They first explained that, in general, AmCham’s purpose is to assist American-based companies operating in China. What then followed was a mostly continuous conversation that was loosely based on the presentation they had prepared. It was really great to have two people with an incredible amount of knowledge about the market in China—past, present, and future. The general theme was how the Chinese economy has grown into the power that it is today and the possibilities of the future, but a lot of our questions were pretty off topic, which they encouraged as well. Due to recent events, we discussed for a while the possible implications of the newly imposed tariffs and the nature of currently doing business in China as an American company. One of the more interesting facts that I retained was how out of the top ten cities in the world in terms of contributing to global GDP, five or six on the list were in China. Plus, while the country’s meteoric rise of the 20th century has slowed now, the GDP is still growing at a significant rate and is predicted to pass the US as early as within the next decade. Another cool thing was that while we were there, the US ambassador to China was in attendance at a meeting just down the hall. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see him. So we grudgingly ended our discussion and said our goodbyes to Chris and Daniel (but we made sure to get the LinkedIns though) and headed to the outskirts of Shanghai for our second destination of the day: Horiba. Horiba is a Japanese-based company that specializes in precision manufacturing of all sorts of different scientific equipment. When we first walked in, everyone was instructed to put on elastic coverings over our shoes I guess so we didn’t track any dirt into the facilities we would be touring, but for those of us with big feet, they didn’t fit. So we got to use this machine that you stuck your foot into and it shrink wrapped your shoes. That’s when I knew I was dealing with a high tech company. We proceeded to get a presentation from the head of operations in China, Mr. Nakamura, which in itself was pretty cool. We learned that the company operated with five segments: automotive, medical, process and environmental, scientific, and semiconductor. I didn’t really grasp the full functions of most of the products, though. After the presentation, it was time for the facility tour. We made our way through the many laboratories filled with engineers doing very careful work.
Our guides would tell us what each room was used for, but most of the time it went right over my head. It was still cool though because it was something it was a different side of a company that I hadn’t seen before. This day very well may have been the best of the trip, partly because of the great site visits, but also because of the fun we had that night. But I’ll table that story for another time.