What a whirlwind of two weeks!
Getting to Shanghai
Team SAP (Joann Hu, Joshua Ziel, Kiri Yu and Sunil Bhardwaj) left the Bay Area on July 6 for our 19 hour travel excursion to Shanghai. Having never worked in teams together prior to the first day of IBD, the four of us were excited (and maybe a bit nervous) to get to know each other’s backgrounds, quirks, habits and points of view. So much so that we had a makeshift meeting circle in our seats on the LAX to PVG flight and were consequently hushed by a flight attendant.
We arrived late July 7 in Shanghai to warmer temperatures than what we were anticipating, and we have yet to get used to the 98°F (but feels like 111°F) weather. We arrived tired, hungry and into the welcoming arms of KFC, conveniently located across the street from our hotel. Ordering our first meal in China was no easy task, and it took us about 10 minutes of pointing and gesturing. Among the four of us, we just about had all the bases covered: one reads Chinese characters and speaks Cantonese fluently (Kiri), one speaks Mandarin proficiently (Joann), and two are master finger pointers (Joshua & Sunil).
On Sunday, we spent the day browsing through Tian Zi Fang, an old part of the city which has since been converted into small shops and eateries, and then we made our way to one of Shanghai’s many large malls. To end our first full day, the four of us were beat to a pulp with traditional Chinese massages. I think I might have had an elbow print on my back when I left.
Meeting the Team
On Monday morning, we were dressed in our finest business casual attire (sweating profusely, of course) and headed to the SAP offices to meet the team. The local team utilizes the design thinking principles we learned in Problem Finding Problem Solving (PFPS) so most of their walls are decorated with brightly colored Post-It notes. The Ghirardelli chocolates we brought from San Francisco seemed to be a hit and we were invited to join the entire team at the local canteen for lunch. The SAP team has evolved quite a bit in the past six months, as most are relatively new and have only been with the company for less than three months. There are also a number of interns from various Shanghai universities that are spending their summer working on various marketing and software related projects. There are even two students from Stanford (Master and Ph.D.) visiting for a couple of months to observe organization behavior.
SAP hosted a team offsite and we were thrilled to join them at Party City for a night of food, fun and karaoke. We all sang along to Backstreet Boys, moonwalked to Michael Jackson and took hundreds of photos. Belting out Rolling in the Deep with 20+ of our newest friends was quite the Kodak memory.
Group Research Sessions
As part of our final deliverables to SAP, our team spent some time understanding consumer behaviors in China. To source participants, we turned to the Shanghai and Beijing chapters of our trusty Haas Alumni Network and we’ve been impressed with everyone’s generosity with their time (although, we did try to bribe them with a suitcase full of Cal gear). We spent the first couple of days in country preparing for the group research sessions, and on July 11, we hosted our first interactive session utilizing a lot of the design thinking principles from PFPS. With a little rearranging, a few adventures to a small office supply store (pointing and nodding seem to be effective in securing necessary goods) and some heavy furniture lifting, we converted a hotel suite into our own private focus room. The sessions have been incredibly insightful in understanding Chinese consumers and their behaviors, information that we envision will be impactful to SAP.
The Fun Stuff
What’s a project without a little bit of fun? Between the spending days/nights in Powerpoint and trekking back/forth to the client’s office, we squeezed in a number of adventures, including souvenir shopping and a visit to the Shanghai World Financial Center, the tallest building in China today (aka the bottle cap opener building). Josh was an instant celebrity as we toured the SWFC with paparazzi aplenty (he claims the locals thought he was Mark Zuckerberg).
We even managed to fit in a short (too short) weekend trip to Hong Kong and Macau. Kiri is originally from Hong Kong so we wanted to take the opportunity to visit her home country. We roamed around Lan Kwai Fong in the middle of the night and Victoria Harbor during the day, and just 15 hours after landing in Hong Kong, we hopped on a jet boat to Macau.
Macau is very reminiscent of Las Vegas, from big hotels to casinos to shows. We had the opportunity to catch The House of Dancing Water, Franco Dragone’s newest production after Le Reve in Las Vegas. It. Was. Awesome. Given that we only had 12 hours left in the country, we couldn’t leave without checking out the night life. Haas really is all over the world, including Macau clubs in the wee hours of the morning, because we ran into a recent Haas EWMBA 2012 graduate who had just moved to Hong Kong.
The Home Stretch
The past week has been very heads down, focused on conducting additional research sessions, interviewing Haas alums and preparing our final deliverables for a presentation to the local Shanghai team in less than an hour! We’re excited to bring actionable insights to our local team today and to our sponsors in Palo Alto next week. Until then, I leave you with Team SAP’s IBD trip by the numbers.
Xiao Long Baos devoured: 137
Taxi receipts: 45
Transportation hours: 57
Tsing Taos consumed: 87
Average hours of sleep (week 1): 7.5
Average hours of sleep (week 2): 5.5
Discussions over room temperature: 13
Post-Its used: 149
Sunrises seen: 2
Correspondences with Haas alumni: 158
Maglev rides: 1