Hello from Shanghai! I am here with Stephanie Tsai, Aaron Tang, and Patrick Mar (team Tekes) to help four Finnish companies evaluate entry or expansion in the Chinese market. We are staying in the outskirts of Shanghai at Zhangjiang High Technology Park – about a 30 minute cab ride from downtown Shanghai. Our client’s office is directly across the street, so the 1 minute commute to work has been a huge bonus, well worth the longer trip downtown.
On the work front, we have had an interesting, but very positive experience so far. While our main contacts with both Tekes and our individual clients are in Finland, Tekes has an office in Shanghai that we have been able to use during the day. The staff is incredibly helpful, both in educating us on Chinese business culture and setting up meetings with hard to reach executives.
We have had only four working days so far, but have been quite busy primarily with scheduling meetings. Our efforts have paid off – today we had three scheduled meetings. This morning Steph and I travelled a couple of hours outside of Shanghai to visit Suzhou Industrial Park. This industrial park is a new, planned city with a focus on attracting foreign businesses. It is a joint venture between the Singaporean and Chinese governments, complete with its own government agencies, schools, housing, and entertainment. The goal of this meeting was to understand how the park and the manufacturing companies within the park think about energy efficiency. Meanwhile, Aaron and Patrick visited China Guodian which is one of the largest power producers in China to learn about their efficiency efforts. This evening, we will all be having dinner with an executive from Shanghai Chengtou Corporation, a state run company that manages large infrastructure projects in Shanghai. We hope to learn about the operations of the Laogang landfill, the largest in Shanghai.
We have also found time during the evenings to explore the city. We have eaten dumplings (twice), hot pot, a boiling fish dish, and tried a variety of lunch places within the tech park. I also celebrated my birthday here on Tuesday, so we met up with the Mayfield Fellows and other Haas students to eat and sing karaoke.
I believe I speak for the whole team when I say that we have had a great experience so far. While I have visited Shanghai before, it is completely different to experience the business side of the culture. I have learned a lot in these first few days and am looking forward to the continued journey through Beijing and Helsinki.