Archive for January, 2010

Day 12 – The Global Business and Management Education Workshop

January 20th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

Today we attended the Global Business and Education Workshop at Chulalongkorn Business School. Dean Anandalingam and Dean Annop Tanlamai were both present, representing the R.H. Smith school of Business and Chulalongkorn Business School, respectively. Interestingly enough, our very own Dean Anand previously studied energy efficiency in engineering at Chula University; and so, to a rooted extent, the pact for a better world via business by the two universities has long since been forged.

The program commenced with an immediate passion that thrived off of the interactive, informational setting. Dean Anand explained the importance of Global Connectivity and the value of having an innate sense of responsibility toward corporate responsibility. “Ethics,” he remarked, “is not only complying with the law. . . one must be accountable in the free market.” This ideology has only recently been so ardently embraced by the population. I can remember debates from BMGT Freshman Fellows courses about what was deemed truly ethical; now, the curtain is being unveiled on the steadfast believers that think business is solely a profit portal that somehow ethically floats above the social value magnet the rest of us gravitate toward. One day, businesses will not survive unless they are socially responsible. Until then, how do we integrate the power for social change into our curriculum? The essential building blocks for success include faculty, staff, students and RESOURCES. To earn global citizenship, one must be ethical and able to embrace diversity; in the form of race, religion, socio-economic background, etc.. Also supporting these notions is Robert Waters, the Associate Vice President of UMD, who led the room on the informational background of the U.S., particularly in terms of diversity. As I watched Dean Anand, Robert Waters and Dean Annop Tanlamai in the front row, the melding of brown, black and golden tan seemed just the combination to legitimize the subject.  By implementing the Center for Social Value Creation, the Smith school is providing an environment where innovation meets ethics. It is becoming more important to the world, and therefore to business world as well (how often we forget), for businesses to take into account the people and the environment. To take care of ourselves and our habitat has re-emerged as the first priority. Interesting that it had fallen behind to begin with, isn’t it?

Mr. Joseph Chavapas expanded upon the ways in which we can develop socially responsible business leaders. As the entrepreneurial professor for Chula, and a Harvard graduate, Mr. Chavapas shared his concern for the subject’s stereotype as one that is strictly driven by monetary reasons. “Business for profit must become business for society, for the people,” he remarked. Using Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladesh banker and economist as an example, Mr. Chavapas illustrated the difference between a donor and a social entrepreneur. Muhammed Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, a bank that loans money to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. The entrepreneurs here are people like street vendors who sell homemade noodles or hand crafted goods, or offer shoe shining services or massages. The loans are used to fund these businesses, but they are also used for other not-so-obvious things. Sometimes used to pay for the installation of solar lights for these families, the loans ultimately create jobs for engineers; allow for more time in the day to work or read; and also fund green energy. This concept of small loans is called “microcredit” and has been loaned out to over 7 million people, bringing tenfold that amount out of poverty. A Nobel Peace Prize, well deserved.

The platform for the cross-cultural student discussion took both the Thai and American students for a few unexpected turns and a lot of laughing. The Thai students from Chula made a presentation on the differences between the two cultures, especially in business. When the aspect of American attitude came through in points about seemingly accepted public displays of anger, high levels of conflict, etc., the room was enthralled to the point of overlapping chatter and excitement. Of course, the realization that our extroverted ways were being reinforced that very moment made for a shared laugh amongst the room. The conversation touched a wide array of areas as we discussed conflict and conflict avoidance, as well as the repercussions of each; the meaning and preference of eye contact; the acceptance or rejection of PDA (public displays of affection); the affects of the current U.S. market and what it means to hold higher degrees. While Americans converse in a very passionate way, utilizing words, tone and facial expression in their delivery, Thai people tend to be more reserved and much less readable. Both sides were eager to learn more about one another’s habits, but alas, lunch time intervened. Regardless of the brief time spent with the Thai students, I believe we have gained an invaluable kind of insight to the global world of business.

 I personally could not have asked for a more momentous way to end my studies and travels than with Dean Annop Tanlamai and the Chulalongkorn Thai students. The perspectives shared and the goals formed have solidified this trip abroad as an indispensable experience.

 I am grateful to our foreign hosts for gifting us with the power of knowledge; because at the end of any day, that is all one can ask for. The rest, we have learned, is in our hands.

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Day 10

January 19th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

In an attempt to be cognizant of the importance of writing in an organized manner, I am going to break today’s session into 3 different parts, each part highlighting a different speaking session. At 12:30 p.m., we had already spoken with the U.S. Embassy, Uli Gulich on Real Estate, and AmCham. Although I feel on the brink of information overload at this point, I want to outline a few important lessons learned.

On the U.S. Embassy: Robert Griffins and Chip Peters from the U.S. Embassy graciously opened our eyes to U.S. relations with Thailand. On the surface, Thailand has gone from exporting 25% of its goods to the U.S. to 11% over the past few decades. However, the decrease represents a growth in Thai exports rather than a decrease in U.S. consumption of them. To dig a bit deeper into U.S. and Thailand’s history is to find a story about the “treaty of amity.”  Renewed in 1966, this treaty concluded that American businesses in Thailand would be treated as Thai businesses, and vice versa. In the 1997 financial crisis, the Thai Baht dropped significantly from $25 to $1, diminishing the wealth of the even richest Thai. Because of the original treaty and long standing trade with the U.S., Thailand-and most the world, presumed that the U.S. would lend Thailand money to relieve debt. At the time, the U.S. was doing very well economically and had decided to take a more rational approach to foreign economics, a more responsible approach. The decision was made to stay out of the crisis, to “float the baht.”

*A fun fact on Business in Thailand: in the brand new Thai constitution, it is stated that an environmental and health-impact assessment be made before any industrial state is constructed or implemented.

On Uli Gulich and Thai Real Estate: Look for a beautiful country on the rise economically and you will find Thailand and real estate. Uli, a Smith Alumni with fearlessness for travel and an entrepreneurial nature unmatched, briefed us on the rising market. Winding through her 5 step process in handling foreign strategy, Uli showed us a survey taken by real estate developers in Phuket, a beautiful region along Thailand’s coastline. A market with a 2000% growth rate in just one year, there was a lot to be learned. For instance, reputation is deemed less important by the developers because everything is so new. What is more important, however, is creativity. That is, creativity in financial situations and creating competitive advantage. While illustrating Porter’s Five Forces, Uli added another box about infrastructure availability. Convenience in getting around and obtaining resources has become the most vital aspect in some perspectives. It should also be noted that the real estate in Phuket is not simply about a nice villa with a kitchen and pool, but also a community with security, a golf course for appeal, and cultural attractions for meaning. The holistic value to Phuket’s real estate is undeniably necessary.

On AmCham: Judy Ben, and AmCham employee and resident of the aforementioned “Global Village” for 20 years, spoke with us about business in Thailand; a common theme of the trip. However, Judy specifically enlightened the room on the topic of Intellectual Property.  After asking us who had bought, or was planning to buy, knock-off goods, Judy proclaimed that she would change our minds. Skeptical as any group of American, college students looking to get a great deal, we were intrigued on what was to come. Within the five minutes it took for Judy to explain the nature of the knock-off goods, my sentiment went from surprised to almost righteously anti-knock offs. Here’s why: the fake Louis on the street is a product that is part of the business to fund criminal activity. What kind of criminal activity? Terrorism. It seems that the drug trade and sex trafficking was becoming too risky and not returning enough profit. So, expanding into another field of “fundraising,” if you will, came about through knock-off goods. Easy to produce, very low risk in retribution and almost 1000% monetary returns are apparently a gleaming appeal. Contrary to surface assumptions, the bag you buy will not support the local economy and has not “fallen off the back of the truck.” This money fuels the supply chain of corruption and the slave labor involved; invaluable insight to the dark side of business.

So where does the need for knock-offs come from? Although a consumer may not be able to truly afford a real Gucci handbag, sporting the latest “knock-off” creates a mental illusion of wealth. The Thai market, better known as the “Night Bazaar” or “Weekend Bazaar”, has a set-up that is similar to a shopping mall that is only made up of small kiosks and is outdoors. Competition for sales is fierce, so haggling is strongly recommended.  A typical sale may take anywhere from three to thirty minutes and sometimes longer depending on the vendor at the kiosk. Offers in the bazaar are similar in nature to those made in the American housing market. Offers should be priced low enough so that they do not offend the seller, but high enough so that the seller knows the purchaser is serious. So, there is a systematic approach to selling the knock-offs. These counterfeit products have a negative effect on the economy and cause many fashion designers to lose major profits and exclusivity of their product. As a matter of fact, counterfeiting and piracy sap $200 billion to $250 billion from the U.S. economy annually, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Clark). Also, designers have been robbed of their ideas and their profits.  And on top of it, it’s funding terrorism. Moral of the story; it’s bad, bad, bad.

The night bazaar, however, is a great segue to to the entreprenuerial aspect of Southeast Asian countries, like Thailand (and Vietnam). The incentives to start a business in countries such as these are much more pronounced, as the necessity for a steady income and the desire for independence is much more crucial to sustaining a living. In the United States, government programs such as welfare and the ready availability of resources and aid create an ideology of a safety net, despite unemployment. As validated by labor statistics, which show these countries as maintaining much lower unemployment rates than the United States, job creation is more widespread in Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore. The most recently updated CIA World Factbook ranks countries by unemployment rates, with Thailand at number 8, Vietnam at 23, and Singapore at 25, with unemployment rates of 1.6%, 2.9%, and 3%, respectively. On the contrary, the United States has an unemployment rate of 9.4%, and is listed at an exorbitantly high rank of 108. While residents of the U.S. are dependent on the government, the people of Southeast Asia are focused on self-reliance, and as a result most people become self-employed rather than depend on the government or anyone else for employment. This self employment is shown through the kiosks at the night bazaar and food stands on the street throughou

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Day 10 – Deloitte & the Global Village

January 18th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Today, we breathed. Having no obligations until 1 p.m. allowed us to ease our way into a riverside breakfast and enjoy the garden pool for the better half of the morning. Sounds like an extinguishing schedule, doesn’t it? The peak of the afternoon sun led us outwards from the Royal Orchid to visit Deloitte Consulting in Bangkok.

We were welcomed by fellow American and UVA alumni, Nelson Nones. Mr. Nones joked about the in-room rivalry between UMD and UVA, and consequently began an interactive discussion on business in Thailand and business with Deloitte. A list of questions from none other than the present UMD students quickly outlined the topic flow; a bright, easily implemented strategy for leading an educational session. Questions ranged from the topic of tax and government to overseas living and the impact on one’s self while abroad. In a room of 23 people, we must have had over 60 questions because of all the inquiry tributaries that took form off of each subject.

So, here’s the highlighted version of Thailand from an economical forefront. Using the PPP (purchase price parity) Mr. Nones broke down the South East Asia competitors into similar, territorial measures; i.e. comparing Thailand with China’s provinces, rather than the whole. The result? Thailand has a median GDP output on this basis. Currently exporting to the U.S., Japan, China and Singapore as their top four locations; Thailand ships out textiles, fishery products, rice and rubber and automobiles as their main exports. Here’s where one of those educational tributaries comes in: the physical location and shape of Thailand makes it difficult to ship to and fro, therefore having Laem Chabang port represent only half a percent of the South East Asian port flow. In order to conquer this roadblock, there is speculation that Thailand will implement an East-West highway with Vietnam or even dig a canal at the skinniest section of the country to really beat out the competition. Of course, there is always the option of settling for what already is, but in a country that has the highest entrepreneurial rate in the world (that’s right, America), settling doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. Thailand also has the 14th busiest airport in the world, comparable to the George W. Bush Airport in Texas. It seems Thailand has a couple of ways to say size doesn’t matter.

On the matter of Deloitte, itself, Mr. Nones let us know that consulting in Thailand versus consulting in America was exactly the same; a surprise for most of us. Sure, he mentioned, there are the risks involved in government and people (i.e. the P.A.D. overtaking of the airport last year, but hey, my airport is Newark). Tax laws vary for individual businesses, and the RD (our IRS counterparts) audits and searches for a chop and signature on every single tax invoice. Mostly, though, the struggle abroad is a struggle within, if you let it be. In his creative illustration of the three tiers of cultural differences, Mr. Nones finished with a reiteration that all people truly are the same, no matter where you go or where you work.

“If you are willing to see and accept that belief,” Mr. Nones explained, “you have joined the global village.”

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Day 8 – What do WWII and Elephant riding have in common? (A: Thailand)

January 17th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Today came in two parts: heavy and light. Climbing onto our palatial bus covered in Finding Nemo characters on the outside and dressed in decorations paralleling Arabian Nights on the inside, it was difficult to not wake up to the surroundings. We were briefly educated on some Thai war history, but it was not until we visited the River Kwai bridges, museum and graveyard that we truly grasped the significance of Thailand in World War II. As part of the Death Railway built by Allied P.O.W.’s in World War II, the black iron bridge connects Thailand and Burma. It was this bridge that after being built through the suffering of mankind was a prime bombing target for the Allies. Over 60,000 died building the bridge. Although it has been rebuilt, most of the P.O.W.’s who constructed the original bridge were Australian, Dutch and British, and were put through horrifying conditions during their time under Japanese rule. Punishments named “The Jesus Treatment,” or “Tokyo Baseball” were some of the captions beneath the graphic photos in the JAETH (Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland) war museum that extract a certain and undeniably heart-wrenching sadness for the human race. The grief for lost lives in the fight for freedom and the pity for the empty conscious of the powers that were are some of the more overwhelming feelings. The Don-Rak war cemetery is just down the road from the bridge site. In it is a beautiful design of flowered graves, kept and cared for. On each of the plaques is a unique phrase the family of the deceased chose: “Just Sleeping,” is my favorite.

After a history lesson that brought the sentiments from Pearl Harbor or September 11th a bit further from home, the day lightened up into a lunch buffet, bamboo rafts and elephant riding. Contained tragedy, easy escape: the new century way. Of course, though, it was as fun as it sounds. The bamboo raft was something one of the students mentioned “fun because we can’t do this in America. There are rules.” As water bubbled up from beneath and sifted through the bamboo logs, the raft was reminiscent of Tom Hanks raft in “Cast Away.” After lolling down the river listening to old, Korean woman sing in the raft beside us, we carefully crept back up the bamboo slide (not steps, slide) and made our way to the elephants. Enormous and cute at the same time, we sat on their backs and took turns cracking up as we jostled back and forth in disbelief that we were, indeed, riding elephants.

Our 14 hour day is now coming to an end, only so the night can begin. Where will Bangkok take us now?

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The Real Day 8 – Ayutthaya

January 16th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Ayutthaya Waking up at six in the morning for our trip to Ayutthaya, I was confused and in the dark about where and what we were actually doing (mostly my fault for not looking it up beforehand). We boarded the bus promptly at 7:30 am for our excursion, with our wonderful tour guide Audi leading the way. We passed through the city of Bangkok, and as urban sprawl gave way to a more modest setting, we arrived at Ayutthaya. There was a mini market outside of the temple that reminded me of the markets in Vietnam, but less nosy. Suddenly, the markets and stands gave way to a vast temple. The outside was beautiful but it was nothing compared to what we saw inside. Inside was the largest bronze image of Buddha in all of Thailand, also known as the Vihan Phra Mongkol Bophit. It was amazing, and rendered one speechless. The size was extraordinary. Our group moved through the temple and learned more about the history of the statue, the temple and the ancient city. The ancient city, itself, is in ruins, some parts intact, others not so much. The stupas (which are mound-like Buddhist structures containing relics), were magnificent to look at and explore. We spent a good amount of time roaming the grounds until we were rounded up for our next destination, the temple with the reclining Buddha, Wat Yai Chaimongkhol. This temple had more tourists and was very chaotic, which seemed odd since temples should be a place of peace and serenity. The paradox did not sit well with me, but exploring commenced. The reclining Buddha was also huge and covered in a bright yellow robe like fabric. The scene around him was the opposite of the quiet calm one expects. People shuffled through for prayers and pictures and I did too as well, and moved on to the next attraction which was the Victory Stupa built by King Naresuan. The stupa had treacherous steps that led to the top, and from the top you could see the whole area surrounding and see the 112 Buddhas around the perimeter of the stupa. After we finished with the pictures and raiding the gift shops, we were off to our next destination, Bang-Pa-In Palace. It was the palace of the royal family past and presently the summer palace. We opted to rent golf carts to explore the different areas of the estate, the palace was beautiful, but our tour guide put the fear of god in us about the consequences of taking pictures inside the actual buildings. The guards with guns that scattered the property did not help either. We spent our time joy riding through the grounds and made it back in time for our next and last stop, the river tour. We boarded River King Cruise and began our journey on the Chaophraya River. On the boat we enjoyed a buffet and the scenery, and as the small houses gave way to expensive waterfront property we came back to Bangkok and to our hotel. A very insightful journey of Thailand past and present: temples, a royal palace, and a river tour, not bad for a Saturday.

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Day 8 – A sick day

January 16th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I woke up at 4 a.m. with a knot in my stomach and a wave of nausea. A small case of food poisoning took me out of the game today, and I will spare you the details of the actual sick part. However, even during a sick day, I noticed some Thai culture. After being nudged by my parents on Skype to call the hotel doctor, I put in the call. Within five minutes, an unassuming, kind Thai woman walked into my room looking calm and smiling. She asked me a few questions and then performed some routine measures like taking my temperature, checking my appendix for pain, and listening in on my heart. The nurse’s English was good enough that I understood her questions and instructions clearly. I wondered, though, if I spoke Chinese or Spanish how easy it would b to communicate. She can’t know every language, right? For a meager $20, I received immediate bedside care and fitting medicine.

I pulled myself out of bed around 3 p.m. I had been on and off sleeping and decided I had to stretch my cramped, somewhat dehydrated legs. I moved down to the pool area and ordered some toast with butter. Instead, I got toast with mayonnaise; not the most appetizing dish. Plain toast worked just fine, though, and I took in the surrounding area as I nibbled on my $4 slice of bread. Next to me were two women drinking pina coladas and speaking English with a heavy French accent to the waiter. Again, I wondered how much more difficult it might be to speak another language. It is quite a worldly benefit to be a native English speaker. Granted, as the youngest country in the world, we’ve certainly worked for it. I will not deviate into a political discussion, though, I simply want to bring to light the remarkable spread of the English language.

Unfortunately, I had to miss the touring of the Ayutthaya river and the Buddhist temples, and I had to miss exploring Bangkok with those who stayed behind. If there was ever a time and place to get sick on a trip, though, it was today at the Royal Orchid Sheraton.

– – – Over dinner that night – – –

 

After speaking with some returning students and discussing cultural observations and research, most characterized Thailand as rapidly westernized country; fast economic growth coupled with an attractive market for direct foreign investment (due to the political and economic stability) make for a tourist’s haven. Interestingly enough, these  same trends parallel the growth in Thailand’s sex industry and, unfortunately, a simlar increase in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Home to the most transgendered people in the world, Thailand is no stranger to sexual overtness. Unashamed of the differences between one’s Self and one’s appearance, Thai people associate with the Self, most importantly.

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Day 7 (Day 1) in Bangkok

January 15th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

Our first day in Bangkok, Thailand. Before I venture to outdoor descriptions, let me say one thing: what a hotel! After a full day of traveling, the enormous welcoming committee at the Royal Orchid Sheraton greeted us with wonderfully, whipped guava drinks and quietly swooped our luggage up to our rooms. Beyond the exceptional service, the Royal Orchid has 4 separate and unique restaurants (of those I know!) and an entire floor dedicated to a spa. Not to mention a great gym, luxurious pool and captivating view from every room. American excess at its best.

We made four stops today; one at Burapha University, one at Katoen Natie, one at Kimball Electronics, and finally to the Thai seaports. Oh- and of course, lunch.  It was a long day, but we were accompanied by Thai students and we easily exchanged entertainment while trying to learn one another’s language and feelings.  The Burapha University room in which we were welcomed and briefed was reflective of a United Nations meeting grounds. The room was set with individual, curved microphones atop horse-shoe tables, all centered around a bed of flowers and a projector. Between the Burapha students and the American melting pot, we probably had a good handful of the world’s countries, already.

 When we arrived at Hamarej’s Katoen Natie, we were instructed on the importance of supply chain in Thailand. Infrastructure has largely improved, but the Thai know they have a longer way to go and are eager to do so. Katoen Natie plays a number of roles, acting as logistical consultants and implementing value-added services like Fire Squads in the cities. A tour of the cross warehouses and free trade zone was also given. By the time Kimball Electronics led us through their operational activities, our minds were almost at capacity. Luckily, the unavailability of the ports (our supposed 4th destination) ended up being an opportunity in disguise. We were able to see a historical mini-museum built for the King and Queen and interact in and around the building, playing in the logistics game room and snapping photos at every turn. Tomorrow is a split day: some will spend the day riding down the Ayuthaai river and others will venture out into the city Bangkok.

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Day 6 – Counting our travels

January 15th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Not much to report about for today.  In order to beat rush hour, which is a bit earlier in Vietnam since mom and pop shops are abundant and usually open early, we were on the road and moving before 7 a.m.  The only unsure part of the journey was the ferry ride across the river. Because of a recent tragedy involving the crumbling of part of the bridge that killed 15 people, a ferry service took place of the bridge. In addition to the roadblock, Vietnam traffic tends to be a mass of chaos (I know anyone who drives on the beltway or the turnpike might think I’m exaggerating; but until you have seen and been in it, there is no way to explain how perfectly mad it is), so it was important we left room for error in our travels.

Anyway, a pit stop was made at a decadent rest stop along the way. Since we were way ahead of schedule, we took the time to eat lunch under the towering, straw-built hut and use up the last of the dong (Vietnamese money.) While at the airport, we counted the travel shenanigans. Since first arriving at Dulles on Thursday, January 7th; we have made physical contact at an airport 9 different times; visited 6 separate airports; and taken 4 flights. The thought of staying at a hotel for 7 nights has been comforting, to say the least.

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Day 6- The floating market

January 12th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. 3 Comments.

Knowing that today was our first and only 24 hours in Can Tho, we arose for an early start. Waking up shortly before sunrise, we gathered ourselves before heading down to the docking area. The Can Tho Tourist boat was awaiting our arrival, and we scurried down the shaky planks after taking a few pictures with the locals. The ten minute boat ride seemed artistic from every angle. The sky-high working cranes and man-made bridges hovered above the muggy water. Alongside the tributary was life in contrast: this was the Vietnam we had been waiting to see. The makeshift, river houses were lined with makeshift gardens: the makeshift porches lined with character. House sides of grey concrete were stained with water; stained with life on the tributary.

As we made our way to the Floating Market, we were the most obvious tourists of all. Our boat was filled with different colors and shapes, and the locals noticed; however, they smiled and waved and were seemingly entertained at our presence. I was entertained at our presence, even. When we reached the floating market, we were approached by tiny wooden boats with tires on the front (see: bumper) offering goods like Vietnamese bananas, the small finger-like ones; a variety of beers, Tiger being the most popular; and mangos and such.  An intentionally adorable Vietnamese boy enticed our whole boat, and what began as a photo op ended as a business transaction as we all bought something. Talk about marketing! An 8 year old boy holding beers out for sale; an epic sight for foreigners.  It was also neat to see the different boats advertise their product by hanging a couple on a long wooden pole so navigating the market was much more easy.

On the way back, everyone was smitten with the organic experience. Our tour leader, a Vietnamese student named David from Can Tho university, explained the Mekong Delta and life for the people along the water. The market opens in the early hours of the morning. By 5 a.m., people are selling and buying, and not long after boats can be spotted carrying a single good in bulk back to their village to sell for a profit.

So in comparing this floating market with a more advanced food market, where do markets competitive advantage truly lie? Looking ahead to the future, “the need to continuously improve” and gain competitive advantage within the market place is omnipresent (Law).  But does this competitive advantage increase with the acceptance of new technologies, or does it ultimately stagnant because of? In the manufacturing industries, there remains a great need for improved information and communication technology, so technology is a necessity rather than an advantage for many countries, at this point. In Vietnam, technology will serve as an advantage for only so long.

Generally speaking, in the food industries, “there has been a major shift in the structure of food distribution in South East Asia from small independent stores supplied by wholesale markets to supermarkets suppliers by contracted producers and manufactures” (Cadilhon). Nevertheless,the entrepreneurial spirit of the floating market and the uniqueness of its infrastructure give it the biggest competitive advantage of all; novel appeal. The agricultural aspect of every country is an easily overlooked importance. In an age of excess, it is easy to forget where our most basic needs come from; furthermore, who they come from. As we progress in the business world, it is important to look toward the future for innovation and change, much of the reason that the Vietnamese have succeeded so quickly. However, if we want to not only progress, but also remain stable, it is vital that we sometimes look backwards to remind ourselves of the value and difference between the necessary and the unnecessary.

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Day 5 – High Tech Park & Intel

January 12th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

After commencing our day with the buffet style breakfast we have been lavishly enjoying during our stay, we took a bus to Saigon Hi-Tech Park. As the virtual umbrella organization for all of Vietnam’s technological infrastructure, SHTP oversees and facilitates new, international companies who are interested in entering the Vietnamese market. SHTP negotiates contracts for these companies and deals out land leases, a big issue for foreigners. We witnessed their eagerness for American investment during our site visits to both the Saigon High Tech Industrial Park and the Investment and Trade Promotion Center in HCMC. Although both sides want full normalization there are still issues that aggravate political and business relations, such as violations of laws regarding dumping, intellectual property protection, and human rights. 

After the initial visit, we sauntered down the street to Intel where learned an enormous amount about Intel’s company culture, reasons for being in Vietnam and ways of recruitment. While being led around the “clean room,” we encountered vast white walls with colored block letters on individual rooms to claim the rooms nature: words like ‘play’ for the game room, ‘sweat’ for the gym and ‘surf’ for the web room were a few of the mind-tapping displays of art. It is no wonder Intel is growing and thriving with such a unique and intriguing company culture.

We learned that Intel is in Vietnam for the young, forward-looking people; a fact we were introduced to at the U.S. consulate just yesterday. Of course, the first-mover advantage they hope to sustain in Vietnam will also move them ahead in the world market, as well. Intel also has a scholarship program that overtook their original plans to build an American University in Vietnam. After realizing the harsh costs, Intel instead decided upon sending 100 or so students to U.S. schools like PSU (Portland State University) to get a U.S. education and then come back to work with Intel.

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