Some of you may have heard through the grapevine that I was selected to represent the Smith School of Business-University of Maryland's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Delegation to China (Whew...what a mouthful).
Below is a writeup I composed (for the center) regarding my thoughts on the experience...
as well I have included an actual press release link and you-tube video link highlighting the trip...
The Communist China as we thought we knew it... is "dead".
Standing in Tiananmen Square, the site of the 1989 Student Protests, it was amazing to see the portrait of Mao Ze Dong hanging across the street of the entrance to Forbidden City, amongst a sea of people dressed in fashionable western attire from Armani or Gucci clothing to Dolce and Gabana HandBags. You might ask yourself how is this possible? The year was 1979 and Deng Xiaoping, then leader of the People's Republic of China famously quipped "...it is glorious to be rich", pursued a capitalist open-market policy to help initiate China's rise as an economic power-house and leader in the global market-place.
As a part-time MBA student, I was priveleged with the opportunity to represent the Smith School of Business's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship to help assist with the annual China Business Plan Competition (at Beida University) and learn more about the cultural, trade, and intellectual partnerships between the United States and China. Our agenda was jam-packed with various business meetings and tours of companies in Beijing and Dalian. We met some of the top business leaders of China in Beijing from Bensom Tam of Fidelity Investures to Matthew Estes of BabyCare Co, as well met with Diplomat Conrad Wong, Intellectual Property Rights Attache, of the United States Government/Department of Commerce. Also we scored a very cool tour of the Lenovo Manufacturing facilities, unfortunately we were unable to receive a free laptop, but as a constellation prize we did see and hold an Olympic torch from the 2008 Summer Games.
One fascinating highlight of the trip was a visit to a "tech-focused" high-school where bright and eager teenager students from impoverished areas of China are able to receive an education in a specfic trade, helping them learn useful skills and pursue a career in job opportunities that would have otherwise been unavailable to them. Smith Alumnus and former Dell CEO, Kevin Rollins helped contribute to the students intellectual development by donating money and Dell PC's for their educational benefit.
During some of our down-time we were able to visit the Great Wall, the Bird's Nest and Water Cube Olympic venues, and utilize our bargaining skills at the Silk and Dirt Markets. The students were provided the opportunity to interact not only with each other but also with the Dingman Center Staff (Asher Epstein, Melissa Carrier, Sarah Moon), the Entrepreneurs in Residence (Paul Bowen, John Lapides, Neil Selvin, Tien Wong, and Steven Roth) and Associate Dean Bob Krapfel learning so much from their insights and experiences in both the academic and applied business worlds.
Although we had to be up bright and early each day, and generally not able to go to bed till midnight usually, the excitement and opportunity to learn more about international business and seeing first hand the transformational changes occuring to China was well worth lack of "shut-eye". I highly recommend Smith School of Business students to take advantage of this opportunity and be ready to immerse yourself in an intense week of business learning and cultural immersion for what will be an amazing experience.