Today we have a guest post from Brandon Lawrence, Assistant Accountant at Thomas & Associates and student of Flinders University. In July he travelled to China with his faculty, to gain firsthand experience of Chinese business culture. Brandon spent the first half of his trip in Tianjin. The second half, spent in Beijing, was organized by International Study Programs.
Last month a group of 16 students, including myself, traveled from Flinders University in South Australia to China where we took part in a 15-day international business study tour.
The second week was spent in Beijing. This week was organized by International Study Programs, who put together a detailed itinerary of academic visits. We had a couple of presentations from Australians who are involved with business in China, as well as visits to the Australian Embassy and Australian Chamber of Commerce.
Jemma Xu, CEO/ Co-founder of Tripalocal, spoke to us about her start-up business and the challenges she faced as she moved operations from Australia into China.
These were just a few of the points I picked up from Jemma:
- The competition is fierce! You must move quickly in order to stay competitive.
- Focus on the target market and understand your product.
- Either focus on China or focus on the rest of the world. It is near impossible to have both.
- Learn the language or have someone on the team that does.
- Build an advisory board. These connections will be instrumental in creating relationships with customers, investors or partners.
Philip Beck, former CEO of multiple publically-listed companies in the media and recruitment industries, now a Chinese tech start-up angel investor, board director and mentor. Philip spoke with us about his experience as an already established Australian businessman, moving into the Chinese environment and the direction in which he believes the Chinese market is heading.
These are a few of the points I picked up from Philip:
- By 2050 China’s economy will be greater than America & Europe combined.
- Help make local Chinese successful, Chinese people love to build local heroes.
- Learn the language.
- Play by the rules. This includes respecting the Central Government and avoiding private networks.
- Promote security, social harmony and family values.
While in Beijing we were able to visit a couple of Chinas most famous landmarks. These included the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Olympic Park, just to name a few. The sheer size of the Great Wall was absolutely breath taking. The way it flowed through the mountains as far as the eye could see, was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
Not only was I able to immerse myself in the culture of China throughout the 15 days, I was also able to make strong friendships, business connections and develop future employment opportunities that would otherwise have not been possible.
Taking part in this trip has been one of the highlights of my entire University degree. It has given me a better understanding of not only the business environment in China, but of the people and the way in which to interact with them on a social and professional level. I have also taken steps to start learning mandarin, which I believe will be of great benefit to both my professional and social interactions in the future.
I feel as though by visiting only Tianjin and Beijing, I have only just scratched the surface of the amazing experiences that China has to offer. I look forward to returning in the near future to explore other regions and provinces further afield.
I would strongly recommend taking up any opportunities you have to travel, especially to China.
My tips for anyone travelling to China for the first time:
- Be adventurous and try new things.
- Eat the Chinese food. Everything is delicious and full of flavor.
- Get to know the locals. Most will be very friendly and actually want to talk with you to practice their English.
- Learn a couple of basic words and greetings. Including foods you like to eat.
- RESPECT – their culture and environment.
All photos are the author’s own.