The last time that I was in China was in 2007, right before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. At that time, Beijing was undergoing a complete overhaul both physically and culturally. The country (and organizations) were pouring money into economic development – especially into construction projects. I can still remember the sea of scaffolding spread across the city.
With the new, out goes the old – and in concert with this change for modernization comes a destruction of sorts of the old culture. The hutongs of Beijing were being bulldozed to make way for new and more modern buildings and neighborhoods. Some hutongs still remain, but are shadowed by a sea of high-rises across the city. All things must at some time change, but we must make sure to preserve what we can from our history and our heritage. (China has now begun to preserve them)
Since I wrote last, I’ve moved from the tourist mode to the data warehousing marketing work mode in Beijing.
I have never been to the IBM office in Beijing, but had a number of meetings scheduled on my way over to Nanning for my Corporate Service Corp assignment. I have recently gotten better at navigating the subway in Beijing (although it is a bit jarring being the only foreigner on the train) and decided to use it to get to the marketing office at Pudong Plaza.
Getting out of the subway, I was greeted by the 2008 Olympic Park and the giant birds nest-like stadium that became so famous. It was very cool to see all of these buildings that were so commonplace in the media – yet in reality these buildings were all much larger in person.
Turning to my left, once into the Olympic Park – I was able to see the very unique IBM building at Pudong Plaza. The main (and satellite) office buildings are built to look like a Chinese dragon, moving along the earth. This was very cool – and to think that this was where I would be holding meetings this week.
The meetings and enablement activities actually went very well. I understand the financial importance of virtual meetings, but there is something to be said about face to face – especially when you are using different languages. On the phone, we would be disconnected – not always sure that we understand one another, but after these meetings – I came to realize that just one meeting in person would have staved off much chaos and confusion. Perhaps I need to quantify the opportunity cost of it all.
At the end of the week, I met with one of our premier business partners at their office in Beijing. This partner, ADM, has been successfully building (and selling) their own custom business analytics solution on top of our Smart Analytics System 5710 in the China market. We had recently agreed to work on a series of case studies and videos together and I was stopping by to meet with them to brainstorm on the concept – and gain final approval.
It had been since my trip to Tokyo, Japan last year that I had to use a translator for a meeting – But the translator was one of our own lab services employees and did a wonderful job making the discussion as seamless as possible. I know that the month in Nanning will require even more assistance from a translator (a team of 8+ university interns to be exact) – but I’m starting to get irritated that I am completely helpless with the Chinese language. I need to figure at least a portion of this out to communicate.
I’m on the flight now to Nanning (China Air got WAY better since last time) and I’m not sure what to really expect. Beijing had grown into a very accessible, very major city from the last time I visited. Will Nanning offer the old China? The type of China that we read about as children with tea plantations, wonderful cranes and array of beautiful nature and scenery? (No offence to Beijing – but you are a very ‘concrete’ city)
Very excited for the unknown. Very excited for this adventure.
Here is a clip on Guilin from the Guangxi Autonomous Region – in the same area where I will be for the CSC program
It is starting to sink in that I leave for China in under a month. I’m not sure that I’ve been away for 36 days away from home since my time living abroad in Spain during my undergraduate days years ago.
For those not aware, I am participating in IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program and will be acting as a goodwill business ambassador in Nanning, China for about a month. Information on IBM’s CSC program can be found in this link here and I have attached a video below.]
Considering that I have completely slacked on my Mandarin training – I’m starting to get a bit concerned with my immersion. In most countries with languages based on the Germanic or Romance-based languages, I have picked up enough to get by – Yet remembering my last trip to Beijing and Xian, I remember being completely lost with the language and intonations, etc. No rest for the wicked, right?
During my trip, I will be branching off a separate section of the blog focused on my travels and business experience in country. I have invested in a new video camera and will be attempting to publish a regular video blog in concert with this one. (Yet am a complete neophyte with the camera and editing suite, so apologies on jerky camera work in advance)
As I get more material on the assignments, I’ll outline them here – use it as a forum for not just my experiences in the CSC program, but also for doing business in China. At the moment I have three major clients that I will be focused on:
Agri-Business / Ecotourism: A regional sugarcane plantation that is looking at expanding not only it’s current business, but also wants to get into eco-tourism – Looking at advanced sugarcane mechanization
Consumer Products (Alcoholic Beverages): Company that is a Maotai distiller looking at new marketing ideas and business growth – Corporate governance, branding and intellectual property rights (…yes, as a home brewer, I’m quite excited about this one )
Guangxi University: A wide variety of items here, but a focus on developing an overall student career development strategy and how to infuse greater levels of innovation in the university curriculum.
More to come as I get geared up to head over to Nanning, and I welcome you to follow along in the journey… Just click the sign up button on the top right of the page.