TCU International Study Trips Part I: China

The Neeley School of Business’ international study trips enable students to see business through a global lens. Students are able to talk with executives to get a firsthand understanding of various aspects of international business, including marketing, manufacturing and distribution and more.

Students have the opportunity to travel to Italy, India, China and the Dominican Republic. In this two-part series, we’ll talk with students about their international study trip experiences.

Landry Gilbert and Megan Hinze are two students who traveled with TCU to China this year. Here is what they had to say about the trip.

Why did you choose to go to China?

Hinze wanted to learn more about how Chinese manufacturing has impacted the global economy. "It seems like everything we have is made in China,” says Hinze. “I wanted the opportunity to explore that and see it firsthand.”

For Gilbert, the decision was an easy one. "The China trip focused more on the career I am looking for,” he says. He is concentrating his studies on supply chain and energy, both of which are key in Chinese business.

Hinze and Gilbert also wanted the opportunity to explore Chinese culture, something Hinze says she likely wouldn’t have done on her own.

What was the focus of the trip?

“The intent of the trip is to maximize exposure to local business, as well as experience the culture,” says Gilbert. The trip did just that, says Hinze. “It was a good balance of learning and seeing the sights.”

While in China, students toured various factories and gained access to key industries that have influenced the manufacturing boom, says Hinze.

Gilbert’s group visited local firms and interacted with people who worked at each of the companies. They were also able to see some of the British influence in Hong Kong.

How is business different in China as compared to the United States?

"The Chinese have perfected the principles of manufacturing and managing a facility, but they struggle with innovation," says Gilbert. "The Chinese perfect what’s existing, but don’t think how to change or evolve it.” 

Hinze was surprised by how manual the labor is in China. “I thought they would have automated more processes,” she says.

Additionally, students observed how workers live in onsite dorms at the factories and work six days a week. “That’s their life,” says Hinze. “Workers become their family while they’re there.”

What is the most important thing you learned in China?

“China has a more relationship-based approach to business,” says Hinze. “It takes patience to seal transactions there, unlike in America where closing the deal is paramount.”

Gilbert was impressed by the drive and willpower of the Chinese people. “Their intelligence and drive can get them over the middle-income hump,” he says. On the other hand, the future of young adults in China is extremely difficult. “It’s a competitive country; if students don’t succeed in their entrance exams, their future can be bleak.”

What would you tell other MBAs considering traveling to China?

“Take a study abroad trip,” says Hinze. “It will get you outside the context of your cubicle and the classroom.”

Dr. Garry Bruton, the trip’s facilitating instructor, has a number of contacts with CEOs in China. Through his personal connections, TCU students gained access students from other universities would not have. “The role of the faculty was a difference maker,” says Gilbert.

“Going to China helped me see business in a context I had never experienced before,” says Hinze.

But the trip wasn’t all business. “We had fun, too,” Gilbert says.
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