Hello from Shanghai. We are currently on our Global Leadership Program (GLP) trip, where we are having the time of our lives. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, SMU Cox requires a 10-day global trip to one of four destinations around the world as the capstone to the first year of business school. I am part of the Asia trip, during which we explored Tokyo and Shanghai.
I must admit, on our May 5 departure day, we were all a bit hesitant about the 14-hour flight. But once we arrived at our first stop in Tokyo, all was okay. We started off with a free day of wondering around the city, becoming familiar with the neighborhoods (each has its own distinct personality) and enjoying the food and culture.
As you know, Japan is known for sushi, and we visited the Tsukiji Fish Market on our first day to see how it gets from the water to your plate. It was actually one of the most amazing things we got to do on the trip.
Without a doubt, this Global Leadership Program trip has been the highlight of my business school experience thus far.
Our second day kicked off the tour of office visits, and we stopped by the Tokyo offices of Hitachi, PwC and Kirin (just to name a few) over the next few days. It was fascinating to sit back and listen to these businessmen and women speak to us about their company, the economy, and the positives and negatives of conducting business in Japan.
We filled our days with office visits, but our nights were spent “getting cultured.” Some of our favorite spots were the Robot Restaurant (a crazy and highly entertaining Japanese performance), Two Rooms Grill (great for an afternoon cocktail overlooking the city), Sound Museum Vision nightclub, and the bar on the 54th floor of the Park Hyatt (which also happens to be the bar from the movie Lost in Translation). Honestly, it was a great few days in an incredible city. We wish we could have had more time — but off to China we went.
Shanghai was an extremely pleasant surprise. I think the majority of my class had a preconceived notion about China, and we couldn’t have been more incorrect. Shanghai is amazing, and we could have stayed much longer than five days. It actually reminded me very much of New York City, and we loved the clash between the architecture of the “old” Shanghai with the “new.”
The food was incredible as well. I must say Chinese has never been my favorite cuisine, but this was hard not to like. If you enjoy spicy, you are in for a treat. Everything from the fried rice to the various beef and chicken dishes were spicy, and many of the people in my group were in tears on numerous occasions. It was quite hilarious.
The office visits in Shanghai were equally memorable. We heard from the owner of all the Subway franchises in China, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, etc.), Dell, Bank of China and Chinavest. We loved learning how these companies continue to grow and keep up with the quickly growing economy in China.
The past 10 days have flown by, and I am sad to see the trip come to an end. It was such an incredible experience to take on with my fellow classmates, and I feel that I am coming back to Dallas having learned a lot of great information about two countries that I honestly knew very little about.
Without a doubt, this GLP trip has been the highlight of my business school experience thus far. Now we shall cheer our second-year classmates at graduation this Saturday and gear up for the summer internships that start in a few short weeks.