Cox Global Leadership Program 2013

In May 2013, four groups of students are traveling to Europe (London, Bratislava), Asia (Tokyo, Beijing), China (Xian, Beijing) and Latin America (Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo) with the Global Leadership Program at the Cox School of Business.

Kay Tea Way and the Dancing Noodles

By: Elizabeth Bauman

Last day in Xi’an went well. It warmed up but was still a very pleasant temperature. We visited two companies – Siemens and Shaanxi Auto Group.

At Shaanxi, it was interesting how obviously tied to the government they are. This company produces heavy duty trucks including being (I think) the only producer of trucks for the Chinese government. An interesting note that I have is that for most of these business presentations we’ve been given, there is a dedicated presentation room with impressive graphics and technology.

After we got back from the company visits there were quite a few who did their own thing but 2 main groups split off with intent to meet later in the evening. They did either dumpling dinner or disco noodles. I was with the disco noodle crowd which ended up being a hot pot dinner with the finale of a guy stretching noodles while tossing and throwing and dancing around. It was quite impressive and fun. Culture note: the waiter would not take any tip at all and said that ‘his job was enough of a ‘blessing’ and that he could not accept more than that’. not verbatim

Our disco noodle waitress took us to a karaoke place we had previously planned to visit and we ended up with the ‘presidential’ private suite (with private bathroom -what!!?? to date the nicest of the trip) and we sang our lungs out for the next 2 hours (Jennifer literally lost her voice). It was ‘clutch’.

We tried to meet up with the other group but that failed. It has definitely been proven difficult to ‘meet up with you later’ when you don’t have a way to communicate with each other.

My side note for the day – supermarkets in China are crazy and when Jess and I went for a quite moment, we were definitely the only white people in that building. Probably also the only ones able to speak English for that matter.

Tomorrow’s agenda – traveling to Beijing and will meet up with the Japan GLP group.

We got to experience authentic Chinese karaoke – kay tea way – and saw a guy dancing with noodles. What cultural fun!

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Technology in an Ancient City

By: Elizabeth Bauman

Today – Thursday we visited our first two companies. XHTZ and Applied Materials.

XHTZ is the Xi’an Hi-Tech industries Zone. The tour was pretty neat and very well organized. There were interactive models of the zone and historical and informational displays that were ‘awesome’ (Hana Litterer’s description). The zone is China’s government’s attempt to move hi tech companies west from the developed east coast. The zone land that is being developed was farmland 10 years ago and is already 60 out of 306 sq km completed at full capacity. An interesting financial point of interest is that 90% of revenue stays in China.

Next we went to Applied Materials. For 1976 transistor prices, a typical iPod would cost $3.2 billion. Very neat how much technology has improved in the last 40 years. They also had a strong desire to be an environmentally responsible company – even further than producing solar panel technology. They are self proclaimed visionaries in this area. The three pillars of why Applied Materials settled in the XHTZ are: Talent, cost, and similar vision with the zone management.

After we got back from the companies, we reconvened for lunch and walked to a random street to a random restaurant. It was quite an adventure because no one spoke English (and we weren’t with any of our helpful translators) so we ended up pointing at pictures and hoping for the best. We ended up with bull frog, unknown meat, rice and chicken. … We think. It was spicy but quite delicious – which was an adventure for me as I don’t typically eat spicy food, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

After, we met up with some others and took a bike ride around the inner city wall. It was legen… wait for it… dary. We met a wonderful older Chinese man who rode almost the entire way around the wall with us. He was quite eccentric and had a contagious laugh. We named him Larry. We had quite interesting ‘conversations’ with him (who spoke no english). The wall ride was about 8 miles long and most of us were on tandem bikes and could take some cool photos and videos while biking on the stone wall. How amazing a wall like that is and how long it must’ve taken to build. Good prep for our trip to respect the Great Wall in Beijing later next week.

On our walk back from the wall, we did a little shopping and bought a few little gifts from street vendors. Once back to the hotel, we took a break before dinner.

Some went to dinner at a traditional Chinese dance show which included many many different kinds of dumplings – sweet potato (purple), fish, shrimp, tomato, cabbage, pickle, pork, egg, fried, ham. Needless to say these were amazing. We also had white sweet rice wine that tasted like apples. The show was culmination of traditional dance and music. Elaborate costumes with the typical long sleeves and hair ornaments. We got cultured.

Joined back with others who had eaten at other dinner places to go to a pub. Apparently a place to mingle and experience some local culture. We couldn’t find the place so we ended up at another culturally unique location. Not much else to say unless you were there.

Nathan’s take away from the day: impressed with the broad vision for the XHTZ including their sales pitch. And how questionable the accuracy of their statements and projections.

Eric’s note of the day: Every street in Xi’an looks exactly the same.

A day of contrasts – high technology developing industries within a city of ancient walls and history.

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Of Monsoons and Karoake

By: Elizabeth Bauman

What wonderful sleep occurs on a bed instead of an airline seat! Ahhhh. Woke up (apparently much later than all the other rooms) and ate a very big breakfast. Part of our group (8 guys I think) hiked up a mountain….¬† And we didn’t see them the rest of the day.

The rest of us took a bus to the terra-cotta warriors which were about an hour ride from the hotel. Some of the favorite parts of the trip – the ‘number one pit’ (there are 4 pits total of figures) because the warriors were lined up and you can see how much excavation they have done as well as how little they have done. The warriors were discovered only 30 years ago in 1974. It used to take a full year to restore a warrior but now it is only 6 months.

A comment by Hana Litterer was how this place will be a fun site to visit in another 30 years because of how much will change in that time. It is the constantly changing 8th wonder of the world. (Not sure if that is a self-declared title or not. Research to be done later)

Nathan Crow’s favorite part of the day was the lunch that we had at the museum. We watched the chiefs make stretch noodles and sliced noodles and then we ate the same noodles right after. It was quite impressive.

We toured a few other buildings that had excavation details, some bronze figures, and some other historical items. On out way back to the bus, we passed a farmers market and practiced our bargaining skills (with the help of my indian friend Charit I got something originally for 350 yuan for 150 yuan- thanks Charit!) others purchased terra cotta soldier figurines, miniature swords, fur hats, and panda merchandise.

On the bus back, we learned some Chinese phrases including (phonetically) hello = nee-how, thank you = shey shey, and good morning = shung showe how. I completely apologize if any of that was a misunderstanding of pronunciation and instead was actually cussing. We then had a session on the hand signals for one through ten, some of which are familiar american university hand signs – including west Texas a&m (8), and half of Smu (9).

Back at the hotel, some took a nap, others to the gym, showers, spa, and some explored around the hotel. Dinner – walked to a mall that was said to have ‘Hot pots’ and eventually found one. Ordering was made easy with a couple of mandarin speakers (thanks Teresa and Jennifer!). A Hot Pot is entirely nothing like what it sounds like. It is, in fact, a plate of cooled rice, onions, sauce, spinach, and your choice of meats (pork, dog, rooster, or lamb) and served with kikkoman soy sauce. Alright… That’s not true – it was so much better than that and very much as the name implies – a bowl with a hot flame under it, cooking seafood and vegetables, and self-served on a bowl of rice after it bowled. As Jillian and I decided against this course of action we had the most delicious udon noodles. Jillian has already accomplished a trip goal at dinner today – becoming a master at chop stick usage!

Because it was raining, we attempted to hail a cab – to no avail as Americans can’t do that in china apparently – and proceeded to walk / puddle hop out way back to the hotel. Interesting notes: Jordan’s ‘waterproof’ jacket was, in fact, not waterproof. And the monsoon in Xi’an smelled liked eggs. Ew.

Tomorrow’s agenda is a business visit with XHTDZ / Applied Materials, a bike ride on the city bridge, and dumplings with a show.

Ill try to recompile a quick story of the mountain adventure to kiddos.

The term¬† ‘karaoke’ is old school. They now call it (phonetically) ‘kay tea way’.

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28 Hours and It’s 41 Hours Later

By: Elizabeth Bauman

We left Chicago and landed in Shanghai for a 4 hour layover – perfect for customs and immigration, quick bite to eat (practicing my goal for the China trip- to be ambidextrous with chopsticks), and a drink before we left for a quick 2 hour flight to Xi’an.

I don’t know how much food I’ve eaten in the last 27 hours – nor which meals they were. It’s slightly disorienting. The last flight’s food (China Eastern Airlines) didn’t smell so appetizing even for airplane food (fish or pork with rice or noodles) so I passed on that. I will be curious to see how many people decide not to be adventurous food-wise. The SMU admin scared us slightly into not drinking or eating anything suspicious in fear of getting ‘sick’. Some have already experimented with free water at the Shanghai airport so the countdown for water/food poisoning begins.

We have a wonderful guide as we drive the 1 hour to our hotel from the airport. Hab (pronounced hay-bee) is telling us about some Chinese history and culture. She explained the different kinds of noodles that they have here. Apparently there is a kind of noodle (forgot the name already) that you can eat 1 and be full.

Made it to the hotel and excited for a real bed :)

Tomorrow’s agenda: free day with options of Terra Cotta soldiers or a mountain hike.

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Up Up and Away

By: Elizabeth Bauman

We have survived leg # 1 of 3 of this trip to Xi’an and now waiting at Chicago for leg #2 to Shanghai. My attempt, along with most everyone else, to stay awake that last flight fell quite short as I nodded off reading the first chapter of my book.

Grades are slowly being posted and there is a hesitation to ‘look or not to look’. The most frustrating part of looking is that not all grades are posted – so you are kept in suspense for the rest. But our focus will be completely elsewhere once we leave this airport and unrestricted Internet will not be as readily available.

One of my favorite people on this trip so far is my colleague and fellow Briefing Book Team Lead – Alex. As a pilot, he is full of useful information such as: our plane is 10 years old, the engine of the plane is as large as the fuselage, and our flight path to Shanghai (our next stop) goes over the North Pole. He knows this because he charted our route on his own. Definitely a good plane / travel need to have around! Haha.

Next step, China! Time to board.

Home is now behind you, the world lies ahead.
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