Postcard from China: MBA students develop a new perspective

Quinnipiac business students are traveling to Hungary, China and England this summer, where they will meet with industry leaders and study each nation’s business climate.

Separate groups of MBA students, along with Quinnipiac faculty mentors, will visit these countries as part of the University’s MBA study abroad requirement. Read more here.

Several of the students traveling to China from June 4-16 shared their experiences: 


June 13, 2011

By Justin Schoenberg
MBA student

The past several days have been incredible.

The people here seem so happy and are very kind. Not to mention it feels like Canal Street in Lower Manhattan everywhere you go.

Yesterday, we visited Laird Technologies where antennas are produced. So far, all of the facilities we have visited have surprised me. I did not expect the working conditions or the amount of technology that the workers had at their disposal to be at such a high level.

It was very interesting to see Laird’s assembly lines. At both Haworth and GE Aviation, there were regularly updated boards that the employees could reference to see how many units had been produced, and how many units were targeted for that shift to produce.

At Laird, there was a timer for the first person on the assembly line — they had six seconds to completely their portion of the assembly. By doing so, the entire line was able to stay in sync.

Earlier that morning, we had a very interesting lecture on the differences between American and Chinese media companies.

The United States has three major networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) that are privately owned. China, however, has one major or national network (CCTV) that is owned entirely by the state.

Hearing the differences and challenges faced by the Chinese network in comparison to the U.S. networks was very fascinating.

June 9, 2011

By Michael DiLillo
MBA student

Today was great, as usual!

We started the day by visiting GE Aviation, which was a great educational experience as well as a wonderful opportunity to better understand how foreign companies operate when entering China.

The facility was amazingly modern and clean; the workers seemed to have great working conditions, despite the stigma of bad working conditions in China.

The manager was originally from the U.S., and said he loves working and living in China. However, he was able to tell us about the challenges that exist when entering a foreign country.

The precision and effort that goes into building the different products for different planes is amazing. There were numerous machines that were the size of large trucks and I was impressed with the computerized systems that are used to check for mistakes and malfunctions within different parts.

We ate lunch at a Korean restaurant, which was interesting and had a few dishes that I enjoyed.

After lunch, we visited the Suzhou Humble Administrators’ Garden, which was beautiful despite the extreme heat.

I found it interesting that the family that originally lived on the premises of this garden, purposely kept the women in the family confined there and the women were expected to obey their fathers, then their husbands, and then their sons after their husbands passed away.

Seeing the cultural differences is eye-opening and really gives me a deeper appreciation for the variety of ways people can choose to live their lives.

After the garden visit, we went to Guanqian Street, which had some very interesting shops and I had my first experience with bargaining for a better price here in China.

We also visited a temple where we burned incense and prayed for wealth and happiness, which was another Chinese tradition that added to our cultural experience.

I skipped dinner once again, purely due to being tired, but I look forward to traveling to Beijing tomorrow and trying different food and also comparing the differences between the two cities.

June 8, 2011

By Cynthia D’Amore
MBA student

The past few days in Shanghai have been wonderful.

The people here are very friendly and sweet.

We were able to visit several companies, and listened to some interesting lectures on the U.S. China Business Council and entrepreneurship in China.

One point that that the speakers have continuously stressed is how important it is to have the support of the government in what you set out to accomplish; this is critical to your success here in China.

We have also learned that every five years, a five-year plan is established for the nation.

Companies in turn then use this plan to help set the strategy and direction of their firms.

One thing that really struck me while driving through the city was the phrase “Dream in Shanghai,” written in large letters across one of the buildings.

It reminded me of America and how if we work hard, learn the necessary skills and dream big, there can be great opportunities available to us.

June 8, 2011

By Michael DiLillo
MBA student

I skipped dinner to take a three-and-a-half-hour nap today and it was glorious, which is why I am now awake at 12:30 a.m.

Today was an interesting day.

We met with a young entrepreneur who entered China about 10 years ago when he was in his early 20s.

I really respected this man’s journey, because he took many risks and seemed to be very happy with his life despite the fact that he was bankrupt a couple times since coming here.

I do not think I would have the strength to go through that; I see him as a unique individual that goes after his dreams.

He told us even more about how regulations are loosely followed here in China and how he thinks business entrepreneurs get away with a lot more here than they would be able to in the U.S.

He talked about how it goes both ways because there is a lot of tedious paper work and favors that need to be completed in order to get things moving quickly.

Each day I grow more and more amazed at the different ways that people can live, which helps me continue to be more open-minded about life.

Seeing this different culture that still has many similarities helps me continue to build upon my belief that there is no absolute truth or right way to live. People can make themselves successful in many different ways, but the commons denominator seems to be perseverance and dedication to one’s own goals.

We also visited the Haworth factory, where they build different types of furniture, but mostly chairs.

I would like to purchase one of the chairs once I get back to the U.S., because they seem to be of high quality and have adjustments for the armrest that I have not seen anywhere else.

The factory manager was very informative, although it was hard to actually hear what he was saying at times due to the noise in the factory.

What stood out to me was the count of how many days the different sections of the factory have gone without an accident or wasted time and the majority of sections have had zero accidents or wasted time for almost four years.

As we learned in our ethics class with Professor Hartman, Haworth has displayed that they care about the integrity of their product as well as the safety of their own resources, which are their employees.

This appears to be a great company that cares about being green, socially responsible, and building quality products.

I continue to look forward to more exciting experiences, because each day is an adventure in its own way.


June 8, 2011

By Matt Schlaier
MBA student 

The past two days included two company visits that were distinctly different.

On Tuesday, we visited Deloitte, which was located in a tall office building that overlooked the Bund.

Our speaker was a partner at Deloitte.

As an accounting undergrad, I looked forward to learning accounting techniques in a country like China and found the presentation very beneficial.

On Wednesday, we toured the Haworth factory in Shanghai and saw how each part of the warehousing functions worked.

To my surprise, the company’s goals all seemed to center around being green and less about profitability, however the green movement has not changed the company’s success for the better or the worse.

I also admired the synchronized structure in which the warehouse operated. I had previously worked in a warehouse for a small steel company and can relate to some of the functions, but the logistics in this warehouse were far more advanced than anything I had ever seen.

In addition to the company visits, we had two lectures – one about U.S. companies in China and the other about Entrepreneurship in China.

The last two days we ate a Hong Kong-style lunch and another traditional Chinese meal.

The Hong Kong-style lunch had some interesting dishes, which included coconut covered dough balls with peach filling and puffed pastries with pork inside.

Both sounded gross before trying them, but I can honestly say they were enjoyable.

Everything they served I tried and the fish with the sweet and sour sauce was my favorite.

The American in me also came out the last two days as I ate Pizza Hut and McDonalds for dinner each night. The pizza was a certainly different because they used less sauce, but still had a similar taste. McDonalds, however, tasted almost exactly the same.

June 8, 2011

By Kristin Yuzuik
MBA student

Today is our third full day abroad in China and it’s going very smoothly.

Kong and Allen have done a great job organizing us and securing interesting high-level speakers.

The best part of the trip so far was the water town.

I really enjoy history so knowing that I’d like this city was a no-brainer. I just wish that we had more time there because there were a lot of shops and different foods to try. Unfortunately rain prevented us from staying longer.

The speaker on entrepreneurship was really great. He was candid and seemed to be really down to earth which helped students relate to him and what he had done and experienced here in China.

This afternoon, we visited a factory which gave a new meaning to the label on most goods purchased in the U.S., “Made in China.”

We were able to see first-hand how Haworth created its furniture and how much the factory is improving its green standards for operation.

The factory seemed very similar to something that I’ve seen in the U.S., in terms of warehouses and other similar things.

I even noticed some of the workers on an instant messaging service during work which is similar to the U.S.

It was great to see the differences but also really nice to see the similarities.

June 7, 2011

By Michael DiLillo
MBA student

Today was a great day!

We visited Deloitte and had an eye-opening discussion about the cultural differences between China and the U.S. that affect accounting practices.

We learned that the government has much more influence on the actions that all Chinese companies, not just accounting firms, take when doing business in China.

The government has much more control and power, so it is likely that if individuals as well as companies listen to the government, they will become successful.

This causes the gap between the rich and poor to be very large because it can be very easy for someone to become very wealthy overnight if they do the right things and make good relationships with government officials.

Relationship-building is much more important when doing business in China, because there is the belief that if one begins to really understand how their clients think, then they can provide them with information that can be understood and passed on in a more efficient and effective manner.

China Deloitte is an example of a firm that is becoming more open-minded. The company allows its associates to have more freedom within their careers.

This is a trend in China as the nation moves away from the communist mindset and continues to become more of a market based economy.

We discussed some important differences between Chinese GAAP, IFRS and U.S. GAAP.

I found it interesting that while Chinese GAAP and IFRS allow companies to reverse previously taken impairment losses, it is unlikely that China Deloitte would allow their clients to do so, because it would make it very complicated when working with a global entity.

We also discussed the changing economy and how home ownership is not as important within the Chinese culture because homes and even small apartments are leased for a maximum of 70 years. I found it very interesting that it is also very common for parents to continue providing their children with financial support even after they get married.

We ate a restaurant that featured Hong Kong-style food, which was very delicious and even included an interesting roll-like food that tasted like a Krispy Kreme donut with pork inside.

After lunch, we visited a nonprofit organization that studies ways that the U.S. influences China.

I found the discussion about intellectual property rights and counterfeit goods to be very educational and interesting.

It seems that China is working to develop more regulations, but the culture is very different and the interpretations of rules seem to change overtime.

The Chinese government is willing to do anything to meet the goals they put forth in these plans, because they want to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of their citizens.

After this long day, we finished it off by visiting the Bund and eating at Pizza Hut, which was a much larger restaurant than in the U.S. and the food seemed to be somewhat of a higher quality.

I am amazed at how there are not hundreds of car accidents every day here in Shanghai. Everyone drives as if there is no chance of getting hurt. They ignore red lights and seem to almost try to play bumper cars while speeding down the road with no fear!


June 6, 2011

By Michael DiLillo
MBA student

Today was our first day touring China and to say it was eventful seems like an understatement.

As we proceeded out of our tour bus to enter a museum that depicted the in-depth history of Shanghai as well as other areas in China, I mistakenly thought that a street haggler was one of our tour guides.

This haggler handed me three umbrellas and I gladly took one, thinking that the touring company was providing us with them for protection. Our real tour guide, Sharon, was quick to inform me that the haggler was trying to sell me an umbrella and I think I gave everyone a good laugh.

The museum was eye-opening and included what appeared to be wax figures that were dressed and put in positions that were important throughout Shanghai’s history.

I found it very interesting how the museum, while in my opinion was more eccentric than an American museum, still took on a very similar feel as well as layout.

This brings me to the idea that I think many people have a misconception about China that it is completely different than the U.S. It has only been one day, but I can tell you so far, that I have been shocked by how comfortable I feel here; it is very similar to walking around NYC.

After we went to the water towns, named Zhujiajiao, I began to see where some of the differences come into play. This area seemed hectic as rain began to pour down on us.

While uncomfortable, it was actually very enlightening and made me appreciate being able to work in a fully enclosed building, because I saw many Chinese people working in the market area under humid and wet conditions. I thought about how there could be days when these street sellers may not even make a single sale, which would make it very hard to live.

We ate lunch at a nice restaurant where we got to experience some different types of ethnic Chinese cuisine, which was very tasty and unique.

After lunch, we went on a boat ride around the water towns, which was the highlight of my day, because I found it funny how we were riding around in a bamboo type boat during a rainstorm and our driver appeared to be on the verge of crashing every two minutes, but never actually collided with anything. This was a great experience and I look forward to dinner tonight!

June 6, 2011

By Matt Schlaier
MBA student

Today was our first real day of sightseeing in Shanghai and the one thing that really jumped out at me was the amazing architecture used for all the buildings in the city.

Our first stop was at the Shanghai Museum of History, which was located at the bottom of one of the most unique-looking buildings – two large balls help support the building’s structure.

This museum had several exhibits that showed how the city had progressed over the past 6,000 years.

Our next stop was the “water towns” of Zhujiajiao where we had our first true Chinese meal and toured the local markets.

The food was much better than I had originally thought; I tried every item they placed on the table and truly enjoyed each of them.

We than took a boat trip through the water towns, and although it was raining, we were able to see the shops located on the river and many locals took pictures of us foreigners as we passed by.

The smells of the market were sometimes quite odd as we past several shops. We also went to the post office in Zhujiajiao and looked at the history of the postal service in the country.

One thing that stood out to me from the post office was the fact that long ago they were classify messages as golden, silver or copper and depending on the classification the messenger would have to increase or decrease the speed in which the messages arrived.

Finally, on our way back to the hotel, I noticed that the rural areas outside the city had a lot of green vegetables growing out of the man-made ponds.

I never found out exactly what they were but it seemed to be a common item along the highway back to the hotel.

Tonight, we have a welcome dinner planned and I look forward to trying more new food and get the most out of this experience.

Categories: School of Business and Engineering

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