Athens, Ga. – Competing in today’s global economy means having the opportunity to do business anywhere and everywhere, including countries where capitalism remains a relatively new concept. International relationships can be lucrative, but often provide significant communication and cultural challenges.
The Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia is helping to bridge potential gaps in foreign relations with its hands-on International Residency Programs, offered by the Office of Executive Programs. In October, a 15-day trip, “Understanding the Chinese Business Environment,” will render an intensive, first-person primer on one of the world’s hottest markets.
The People’s Republic of China has experienced profound growth in Western investment in the Shanghai and Beijing regions since the country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Beijing also will serve as the site of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, and Shanghai is poised to host the World Expo, expected to be the largest attended event in the history of the World’s Fair, in 2010.
“We hope to be able to shed light for American executives to learn about doing business in China and for Chinese companies to learn more about American businesses as well,” said Executive Programs’ Maggie Pollock. “This residency program is all about networking. Our participants can interact with Chinese executives and with their fellow travelers.”
“Understanding the Chinese Business Environment” will be led by Charlie Squires, Terry College’s director of executive programs. Squires, who has extensive international business experience, most recently traveled to China in March with 33 MBA students and executives. Squires said there’s no substitute for actual immersion in the Chinese culture, adding his goal for trip participants is “not only understanding best business practices, but also cultural competency and communication.
“There’s value to be had in reading and studying (about China), but nothing replaces sitting down with a group of executives who have actually done businesses there and hearing about their experiences,” he said. “In terms of learning about what works and what doesn’t work, there’s no comparison in my mind. Being there is an essential part of the process.”
The trip-which includes four days in Shanghai, four days in Beijing, three days in Chengdu, two days in Guangzhou and two days in Hong Kong-will include calls on corporations, along with cultural events and some sightseeing.
“We’ll visit Chinese companies that were founded before open markets were established, expatriate companies and American companies, like UPS and KPMG, already doing business in China,” said Pollock. “There will be a lot of variety, with visits to a medical supply company and manufacturing and accounting firms. We want to make the trip very broad to appeal to different vocations.”
Cultural events include full-day tours of Beijing and Shanghai, an evening cruise on the Huangpu River in Shanghai, teas with the mayor of Shanghai and other government officials, an acrobat show and visits to the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Centre (which has a partnership with Zoo Atlanta) and the Forbidden City in Beijing.
“Cultural activities will balance nicely with the business visits and presentations,” said Pollock.
There also will be a daylong seminar preceding the trip where participants will learn about Chinese history and culture, the overall business environment, an economic outlook and the country’s government, legal and regulatory environments.
The trip costs $8,500, which includes five-star hotel accommodations and ground, air and rail travel to all program events. Flights to Shanghai and from Hong Kong are not included. Each day’s events begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at 10 p.m. Executive Programs is making arrangements with a travel group of about 20 in mind.
“A small, intimate group would really benefit from the experience, and it would help make corporate visits easier to facilitate,” said Squires. “It should provide more interaction and less of a feeling of being part of a lecture.”
Terry College’s next International Residency Program will take place in India in March 2008, and additional presentations in Brazil, Russia, Eastern Europe and Latin American are planned. And at some point in the future, international professionals will have the opportunity to visit the U.S., with International Residency Programs alumni hosting the visiting delegations.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to develop an exchange program for companies who want to do business here,” said Pollock. “It’s all about creating business opportunities for Atlanta and the state of Georgia.”
The Terry College’s Office of Executive Programs serves alumni and other business leaders by making educational opportunities available at every stage of their careers through customized executive education programs, open enrollment programs and public forums. For more information on “Understanding the Chinese Business Environment,” call the Office of Executive Programs at (706) 425-3051 or visit www.terry.uga.edu/exec_ed/.