The Chongqing Wastewater Project
By: Nathaniel Mallet
The International Consulting Project is the final project of the EMBA program, and is also widely regarded as the highlight of the program. It gives the candidates practical international business experience and allows them to put into practice the theory learned over the twenty month program… As expected, the trip to Chongqing, China did not disappoint.
Our team represented a company that provides a high efficiency wastewater treatment system as well as technical expertise in distributed wastewater treatment. Our objectives for this trip included: researching and analyzing the Chongqing wastewater market; identifying areas of the market most in need of their product and expertise; as well as identifying potential business partners.
We spent three-and-a-half months preparing for this trip. We conducted market research from Ottawa, using the internet, our contacts at the Canadian consulate in Chongqing, a literature review, etc. We also attended many briefings, presentations and conferences in Ottawa that discussed doing business in China such as the business climate, business culture, Chinese culture etc. These preparations were invaluable to our success. While we focused primarily on high-level topics such as Chinese business culture, we were reminded often by presenters with firsthand Chinese experience not to forget about the details of international business trips. For example, we arranged for interpreters and drivers prior to our arrival in Chongqing. This was a key success factor for our trip.
Our week in Chongqing was very successful. We met with several design firms, which are responsible for the design of urban communities and light industrial parks. These companies, like most other companies in China, are extremely interested in clean-tech products that will help them reach China’s ambitious environmental protection goals. Surprisingly, many companies wanted more than just a supplier-customer relationship. Most wanted long-term partnerships that could help the Chongqing companies expand internationally, beyond Canada We also had the opportunity to witness firsthand the incredible expansion rate of Chongqing during our visit to the city’s second largest wastewater treatment plant. Our host explained that just ten years ago, there was no wastewater treatment in Chongqing at all. However, between 2000 and 2010, more than 90% of all produced wastewater in the city center, where almost six million inhabitants live, is now cleaned and purified before it’s returned in the environment. The other 10% is expected to be treated within the next two to three years.
Our trip was not all business. We did find some time to get off the beaten path and explore areas of the city not too accustomed to tourists. We very pleasantly surprised by the openness, friendliness and curiosity of the Chinese people. In one memorable evening, several members of our team were treated to a riverboat meal hosted by the officials from one of our meetings. The trip took them up and down the mighty Yangtze River and they enjoyed Chinese hospitality the entire evening.
Overall, our trip was very reflective of our entire EMBA experience: a lot of work with a little time for fun which resulted in a huge success.