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Teams from the Class of 2016 wrote about their anticipation and experiences of their recent International Business Consulting Trip to Shanghai, PR China in a series of blogs. You are currently reading the first blog in the series.

Map of China with push pin on ShanghaiWheels-up in 24 hours for Shanghai

By Nader Hanna, Team 2 

In today’s global environment we can no longer live in a domestic or local market vacuum. It is important for us to realize and to experience the value that different cultures, languages and beliefs collectively bring to this one planet that we each inhabit.

The Telfer Executive MBA Class of 2016 will have our chance to put into practice what we have learned over the last 21 months during our trip this week. We will navigate cross-cultural challenges and global business markets including ways of surmounting challenges associated with differences in norms.

Travelling to Shanghai, PR China is such an important aspect to our learning. It will contrast the actions that as Canadians are use to, especially differing from the transactional approach to doing business that we have become accustom. It is only through this trip that we will truly discover a different way of thinking when we are faced with the norm in China of cultivating guanxi – the power of personal networks and relationships. Relationship means more than just making connections. Our team has learned this lesson after spending the last several weeks in Canada trying to establish connections through the internet search and LinkedIn with little or no success. What we have found as an outcome of these attempts is that it often requires leveraging our own extended network to introduce us to Chinese key stakeholders within their networks. This is a true test of the six degrees of separation theory. Once we had established this connection people have been welcoming to us ‘foreigners’ and willing to provide all the support that we need for our projects.

China accounts for more than 20% of the world population, and is the third largest country from a land-mass perspective. China’s population is 1.380 billion this is over 39 times the amount of people within Canada. Shanghai itself holds a population of over 23 million versus Canada’s 35 million inhabitants.

On this level, our experience and understanding of Shanghai and China in general next week will play an integral part in our professional lives as we move forward with our careers given its influence on the global marketplace. This nation was able to transform 180 degrees from a poor farming country to a leading industrial country in less than 40 years and it is still growing exponentially as one of the leading developing countries. It will continue to heavily influence the global market. Our experiences and understanding of local business customs and challenges will accelerate our ability to enhance existing partnerships within China or expand our companies into this market and leverage this growth.

From a challenge perspective, we wrongfully expecting that language would have been one of the most challenging matters we would encounter. It turned out that TIME was our main enemy as we continue to approach deadline. The time difference a holiday and differences in norms not in our favor, contributing to us almost running out of time. In some instances we waited for a week to receive a response to an email that was critical to our project. Our recipe for success quickly became a mix of starting ahead of time, expecting the worse and always have an alternative plan.

We are approaching our final journey, one that started back in September 2014, our anxiety levels are elevated and our questions begin mounting:

  • Are we well prepared for the final phase?
  • Will our hard work finally payoff?
  • We be faced with any surprises that will impact our agenda and hinder our progress?
  • Well everything works out as planned?

All of these are questions will soon be answered and provide us with another learning opportunity.

Success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted. Hundreds of hours of research, planning and meetings had been put towards our business project coupled with periods of frustrations and disappointments as well as optimism and possibility. We do believe that we have planted the seed of success and now we look forward to harvest it.

Additional Blogs in the Series:

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