Discovering electronic identity in Hong Kong – defining a global strategy

Team 2 checking in from Hong Kong, where we just finished up our project for an international security and systems integration company.  We used many of the tools from our strategy class to provide the company with recommendations on how they should attack the electronic identification market and to assess their internal and external fit.

Arriving very excited for our three weeks of work, we were in for a couple surprises on our first day.  After walking a few blocks from the MTR station in what may have been the most humid weather I’ve experienced, we arrived early at our office only to find that the facial recognition system was down.  We mingled with a handful of company employees in the lobby, which felt more like a sauna, until someone with a key finally arrived.  Soaked in sweat wasn’t how I imagined starting the first day.

When lunchtime rolled around, the company invited us to join them for dim sum.  Chicken feet weren’t something I had planned on eating in my life, but when in Rome… This video more or less sums up our cultural experience at lunch – check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_WAmt3cMdk – though our food was delicious!

Our final surprise of the day came when we learned part of the team may be going to a biometrics conference in Sydney – question was, who would go?  We ended the day by dodging a massive thunderstorm at The Pawn with the other IBD team working in Hong Kong for some cold beers.

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(view of Kowloon from our hotel)

Our accommodations were a little bit further away from Central Hong Kong, but the compromise was size and quality.  Real estate is very expensive in Hong Kong, and as we saw from the other group’s rooms (maybe 6’x6′ with a bathroom and shower included), it’s very tough to find space.  Here’s a quick peak at our place:

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(we shared a couple of 2-bedroom suites for our stay – we were quite comfortable)

As I eluded to earlier, this was an adventure that included many surprises, one of which was the weather.  Our first taste of Hong Kong was particularly rainy – thanks monsoon season!  After peering out our office windows at the dark and ominous skies, we heard that many people in Hong Kong hope for “black rain” – an advisory from the weather service to stay home and off the roads, which happens every few years and people run to the shopping malls and movie theaters.  Nobody goes to work.  You can guess what happened next.

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(weather advisory warning >70mm of rain per hour – advised to take shelter)

Another theme for our trip is FOOD – and a lot of it.  We’re pretty sure as a group that we tacked on something like 30 pounds while we’ve been here.  Our experiences have varied from traditional Cantonese all the way back to the unforgettable taste of a bacon cheeseburger.  You’ll see below just a selection of the impressive feats Team 2 was able to accomplish.

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(Michael enjoying not one, but two dinners – he’s a growing boy)

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(Richard discovering the difference between a 1/2 lb burger and 1/2 kilo burger in Sydney – and why i love the metric system)

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(demonstrating western culture – Richard inexplicably clears his plate)

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(incredible sushi spread at dragon-i, where we met up again with our classmates and our Berkeley alumni project sponsors.  sadly i was only able to capture one of the seven courses of our dinner)

We want to say a special thank you to our friends in Hong Kong – for all the lunches, dinners and guidance you gave us while we were here, and for your patience and willingness to help as we navigated the uncertain waters of the identity document market.  There were many twists and turns along the way, and we asked a lot a questions.  I hope we were able to provide you with some answers that will be valuable to you in the future.

We learned how difficult it is trying to converge on a single strategic direction when faced with so many options.  We dipped into our post-it note collection and wore out a few dry-erase markers before arriving at our conclusions, and now come back to Berkeley looking forward to the next time Ned asks us to disagree with him. We’ve master the fit, in and out!

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(happy birthday Alex!  we popped in on another Haas IBD team in Sydney to celebrate)

As we reflect on our time here in Hong Kong, we can definitely say it’s been quite a ride.  We’ve demonstrated what fun you can have when you send a group of Haasies out into the world – and that no matter where you go, you don’t have to go too far to find another.  You’ll never meet a more welcoming group of people – regardless of graduation date.

We leave you with views of Hong Kong from Victoria’s Peak, as the city transforms from day to night. We will miss it!

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Sincerely, Team 2

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