MIM Asia Field Study Part 3 – Vietnam

By Jake Culian

Well our grand journey has come to its last stage. After leaving Shanghai we traveled further into Southeast Asia and ended up in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.  Since we arrived late on a Friday night we spent the weekend doing cultural tours.  Our first tour took us down into the Mekong River Delta where we took multiple boat rides, some nice walks and a motorcycle buggy ride.  Here we’re enjoying the warm temperatures, the river breeze and coconut milk.

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The second day of our cultural tour took us through the Presidential Palace and the Vietnam War Museum. Featured below is the exhibit on Agent Orange. At least for me personally it was definitely one of the rougher sections of the trip.  From the perspective of a business person it makes me think about the long term consequences of the sort of chemical products we create and use in business as well as on a daily basis.

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The first company visit we had was with a Vietnamese Pharmaceuticals company called Amvipharm.  They are one of the companies working to fulfill the local need for antibiotics and dialysis fluids with plans to expand their productive capacities.  This visit was interesting because it gave us a look at the countries growing health insurance industry.  Afterwards we were treated to a lunch at a very tasty local restaurant.

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The second company we visited was a commodities firm called Louis Dreyfus.  This international firm has a “farm to fork” policy where they try to secure vertical control of their supply chain.  This goes all the way down to creating symbiotic long term contracts with their crop producers where they help them become more efficient and sustainable.  One of the things I found most interesting here was all the different ways they had to work to control multiple sorts of risk and their use of insurance, forecasting, and the futures market.

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Over the course of the trip there were several opportunities to take additional tours or excursions, like an acrobatic show. Here is the possible tour of the Cu Chi tunnels which four of our classmates took part in.  This tour shows some of the places and methods that the Viet Cong used to hide during the Vietnam War.  I didn’t take part in this tour, but I’m fairly certain there’s no way I was going to fit in that hole.

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Near and dear to many Portland natives is Nike.  During our time in Vietnam we got to visit one of their 65 contract factories which produce almost half of their total footwear per year.  We got to hear from both the local corporate side of Nike as well as talk to the local factories management and their ongoing efforts to improve efficiency.   After coming seeing just how automated the factories in Japan were it was interesting to see the mix of automation and sheer manpower behind creating all these shoes.

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Our last visit was to Datalogic, an Italian tech firm which mainly produces scanners and bar-code readers.  This facility offered us some of the most direct comparison on the differences in companies in Vietnam and China.  Datalogic and a firm I discussed earlier, Hella, had very similar layouts, but Hella made much more efficient use of its space and was far more organized.  This all said Datalogic received a Priority Enterprise Certificate from the government of Vietnam which grants it many privileges.

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As our trip came to a close we spent some time at the Vietnam International University where we explored their campus and visited with local students.  After listening to short lecture we reunited with our professor and got right down to the serious business of singing.  Many groups had gone out to Karaoke at various points on the trip, but here we had a live audience of local students.  To wow them with our talents, our program director started off with a duet with one our cohort members and then we serenaded them with Chinese songs we had learned for the New year.

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After we finished singing we dragged everyone down for the largest group photo of our entire trip.  The students here had been extremely welcoming and nobody had booed us off stage so I think it was a pretty great success.  Particularly fun for me was some assistance from a local student in finding an awesome Salsa club to go dancing at later that night in downtown Ho Chi Minh.

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Well it was a crazy trip full of long plane rides, lots of buses, and even more awesome memories. Ho Chi Minh was definitely my favorite part of this trip, I loved the environment and the food was delicious.  Here was our closing banquet where we talked about plans for spring break and enjoyed one more night spent with each other before many of us started our mad dash back to the US.  While I went home the next day I highly recommend staying in Asia someplace, but do yourself a favor and make sure to rest a bit before you come back cause when you do school is waiting to start off sprinting.

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Filed under Asia Trip, Business and Asia, Business Tours, Vietnam

MIM Asia Field Study Part 2 – China

By Jake Culian

Last time we discussed our travels through Japan, but as soon as that was over the MIM cohort of 2015 dashed off to Shanghai.  While we had all greatly enjoyed Japan it was time to continue our adventure and visit one of the largest cities in China.  To start things off we had lunch on our first full day there on the eastern side of Shanghai.  In the background you can see faintly one of the tallest buildings in Shanghai.

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One of the first companies we went to visit was an electronic car components manufacturer named Hella.  Hella is a German based firm with 4 facilities in China and we got to visit their Chinese headquarters.  This firm produces many car parts which include circuit boards or other electronic components and this facility prides itself for having the lowest defect rate among Hella factories.  After viewing their factory we got to talk to a top facility manager who was able to discuss with us many of the issues of their business in Shanghai and new market trends.

China 2

While we had traveled by bus on all our company visits in Tokyo while in Shanghai we got a special treat and got to ride the bullet train up to Nanjing to visit one of the Hanes factories.  It was amazing watching the speedometer march up towards 300 km/hr and not feel anything.  The Hanes factory was interesting in that they actually ship 70% of their yarn to China from the US and then ship the cut products elsewhere to be made into garments and finally back to the US as a finished good.  The excitement wasn’t over though because on our way back into Shanghai our train stopped less than a mile outside the station for an hour because of technical issues.  Guess everything can’t go smoothly.

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One of our two cultural excursions during the China section of the trip took place in Nanjing where we got to visit the Nanjing History Museum.  Never one to miss the opportunity for a photo when we saw the development of man pictures we just had to recreate them as a development of the modern businessman.  The museum had a wide variety of artifacts from many different periods of Chinese history including pottery, art, furniture and recreations.

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The next day we returned to making company visits and this time visited a Toll Global Forwarding facility located nearby our hotel in Shanghai.  The Toll Group is an Australian based logistics solutions provider which prided itself on coming up with innovative total solutions which help companies in more ways than just cutting costs in logistics.  In the background you can see an example of these logistics solutions where they would pick and pack multiple types of wine and send them together to end users as a way of saving their customer an addition step in the shipping process.

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One of my personal favorite things about Shanghai was how centrally located we were.  Below you can see the hotel with a spaceship on top.  That’s the Radisson Blue Hotel and it’s located on Nanjing Road, a major commercial area with lots of shopping and amazing food.  From the hot pot restaurant we nicknamed painful pot to the Xinjiang style restaurant 2 blocks from where we were staying we never lacked for good food.  The park across the street had a really fun bar in a little pond as well.  Then of course there were the two buildings we decided were probably Sauron’s tower, one of which you can see right in the middle here.

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My favorite company visit was this one below, a flavoring and fragrance company called Symrise.  Our host was a little hesitant about our visit and started out not entirely pleased to see us, but like everyone we have visited on this trip so far we were able to win them all over.  Everyone we have talked to so far has been surprised how international our cohort is and then even more surprised how challenging the questions we ask are.  Since school has started some class members have struggled with being forced to speak up and exit their comfort zones, but now we get to see the vast rewards as potential employers are impressed time and again by the level of thought we present.

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Our second cultural tour was visiting Suzhou University about an hour and a half outside of Shanghai.  This was the second of three colleges that we will visit and seeing how different programs work is an extremely valuable part of this trip.  In addition it allows us to start making connections with people who are going to be working in the same sort of fields we will be.  The students guided us around Suzhou and then took us to a large garden complex.  It was fun getting to walk around a more traditional Chinese city and cool to get to know more international students.

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As business students it would never do to leave a city like Shanghai without doing some firsthand research on local small business strategy.  Towards this end many of visited the old market district up near the bund above our hotel.  Walking through the market was a little bit of an overwhelming experience with huge numbers of people and endless little shops.  Since this is China they also take their lights and colors seriously as can be seen below.  Don’t let the colorful exterior fool you though, the shop owners are vicious bargainers.

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And now we come to the end of our time in Shanghai and the beginning of the next adventure.  Our time in Shanghai wasn’t very long, only until the afternoon of Friday the 13th but we all had a fun time.  As the trip kept going we all started getting tired from the constant running around, but with only one country left we can’t stop now.  Here we’re waiting with our brave program director in the Shanghai International Airport for our airline to let us check in.  It was a great time in Shanghai, and next stop Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam!

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Filed under Asia Trip, Business and Asia, Business Tours, China, Food, Japan, Vietnam

MIM Asia Field Study Part 1 – Japan

By Jake Culian

One of the coolest parts about the MIM program is the Asia trip.  We left Portland for Tokyo on March 1st and were there till the 8th.  We had all finished off finals the previous week and before any of us knew what was happening we were sitting in the airport waiting to fly overseas.

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With the glories of the International Date Line we took off at 11am and didn’t land until 3pm the next day.  After being stuck on a plane for almost 11 hours we did what any hungry college student would do… we went and found food.  Needless to say we were not disappointed with the food we found here.

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We had the pleasure of staying the Grand Prince Takanawa Hotel during our stay here.  The first morning we all got dressed up and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast.  Then before we got on our bus to go visit our first company we took a group photo to commemorate the occasion.

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As our very first company visit we got to see the Kewpie Mayonnaise plant.  This is a really interesting facility which has the ability to automatically crack around 20,000 tons of eggs per year.  We got to see these machines in action and they were quite interesting and part of a highly automated process, but like in most of the facilities we visited we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the process, so this is the line-up of salad dressings the produce which they allowed us to sample during lunch.

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Later during the week we got to visit one of the Nissan plants located near Tokyo.  They produce 4 kinds of cars here including the Leaf electric car all on the same assembly line and in the order they are desired.  It was cool to see the differences between this plant producing regular sized cars and the Hino Toyota plant producing large trucks.  In this picture one of our translators, Hiroshi from Direct Force, is helping us ask questions to the guide from Nissan.

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As is probably becoming clear I really enjoyed all the opportunities we had to eat good food and no trip would be complete without the opportunity to eat from a chocolate fondue fountain.

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As someone who grew up in the United States it never ceases to amaze me just how huge cities in Asia can be.  From our hotel rooms we could look out across the city and see Tokyo Tower.  Getting the chance to go and explore the city definitely exposed us to a vast set of cultural differences for those of us from the US and China.

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Almost as important as seeing how facilities and factories work in Asia is looking at the local culture.  We were given a free day to go out and explore the city on Saturday March 7th and most students explored the city.  This was one of the most impressive sights anyone found, a shrine which our Thai students went to go see.

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On one of the last days before we left for Shanghai we visited with a group of Japanese economics students at Tokyo Kaizi University.  They really made us feel at home and helped teach us how to prepare a variety of Japanese traditional foods.  Here we are trying to evenly cook Takoyaki.

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Finally as we prepared to leave Tokyo to make our way to Shanghai we all posed back in the gardens behind the Grand Prince Takanawa Hotel.  We had a blast visiting Japan and I know I really look forward to making it back at some point.  We got a chance to grow as a cohort and see how many of the concepts we learn in class are applied in real life.

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Filed under Asia Trip, Business and Asia, Business Tours, Food, Japan

Balancing Life, School and Other Activities in MIM

By Jake Culian

One of the most challenging parts of the MIM program is just how fast it goes.  This week is our finals week and February isn’t even over yet.  Needless to say it kind of feels like everyone is sprinting around here so I wanted to talk a little bit about time management and stress relief.  The first thing to know about MIM is that there is always something you could be doing.  There are projects for Operational Management, studying Chinese, endless amounts of reading and many wonderful events that the SBA offers http://www.pdx.edu/sba/events .  The first step to surviving the madness is organizing everything.  Personally I like writing it down so I picked up a large desk calendar and wrote out all the assignments, projects, tests and events that I need to take care of for the entire quarter.  This way I know what’s coming ahead of time and if anything new comes up it goes on the calendar.  It takes an hour or so but in return you always know what you need to take care of.

Now that you know when everything is due the biggest piece of advice I have is stay on top of it.  Many of us like to procrastinate, but this is a great way to get completely overrun.  For example yesterday we had 5 assignments due and we have final exams today and tomorrow.  By taking care of assignments sooner rather than later you can stay more relaxed and actually sleep some every night.

MIM Students and instructors at the MIM Chinese New Year Party

MIM Students and instructors at the MIM Chinese New Year Party

There are some day’s when everything stakes up against you and you just have to prioritize.  Prioritization is key skill to learn and with it you can make sure that the things that really need to get done are finished on time.  We can receive hundreds of pages of reading a week and it’s always important to take the time to actually finish it, but if you need to choose between reading and finishing off a couple assignment, finish the assignments first and read as you can.  It’s also good to remember that you can negotiate with professors.  They aren’t mind readers and don’t know everything that’s happening in your other classes.  If you’ve got a bunch of stuff coming due at the same time it can really pay off when the class asks for an extension, just don’t abuse the privilege.

Finally it’s always good to take some time off.  Eventually you can just run out of steam and trying to study for another hour just isn’t worth as much.  That’s the time to put away the books and go do something physical.  My personal favorite stress relief activities are running and dancing.  Portland has a lovely waterfront park which is great for walking, breathing some fresh air and letting things go for a bit.  Portland also has a fantastic array of dance venues which are within walking distances of school as well as classes offered through the recreational center.  For those of you interested in picking up a social dance I highly recommend checking out http://www.portlanddancing.com/ .  So remember organize, don’t procrastinate, prioritize, and find some time to relax.

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Filed under MIM Survival Guide, Student Life

Lunar New Year Celebration at PSU

By Jake Culian

Well it’s that time of year again! Yep it’s New Years! But wait you say, didn’t New Year’s happen at the beginning of the year on January 1st?  Well yes it did but this is the Chinese New Year.  And for China the New Year isn’t just a one day event either.  This year the New Year celebration begins on February 19th and goes until March 5th.  This celebration is one of the biggest celebrations in China and is full of performances, fireworks and family gatherings.

3J5A0448_ProcessFBChinese New year is a truly enormous production in the major cities of China, but everyplace will have a celebration of some kind during the festival.  Every year the transportation systems are full to bursting as millions of people try to get home for the holidays.  And once the holiday really does start the firework usage is enormous.  Fireworks are believed to scare off evil spirts who bring bad luck and thus make sure that a person starts the year off right.  With low restrictions on who can purchase fireworks and where they can be used, cities like Beijing and Shanghai report picking up thousands of pounds of left over firework debris after every day of New Year celebration.

Every year in the Chinese calendar is attached to a different animal in 12 year cycles.  This year is year of the Ram and last year was year of the Horse.  Each of the animals is said to indicate something about people born in that year.  For example people who were born in a Ram year are supposed to be thoughtful, persevering and honest among other qualities.  In addition to giving details about their personality they are seen in much the same way that people from the west use their astrological sign.

http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/

3J5A0424_ProcessFBTonight I attended the Chinese Student Unions Chinese New Year party in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom with about 500 other students, professors, and locals.  We spent the first hour watching videos of people wishing everyone a happy new year.  After that though the real show started.  First there was a traditional Lion Dance followed by a dance to Xiao Ping Guo, or little apple. Then the local Confucius Institute had many people come in to do singing.  http://www.pdx.edu/confucius-institute/  My personal favorite though was a really cool Tai Qi performance.

3J5A0923_ProcessFBIn addition to the performances all Portland States got in free and could get a Chinese meal.   They also had a raffle full of fun prizes which everyone there was eligible for.  All in all it was a really fun way to spend my Friday evening and it made all the MIM students were excited about putting on our own Chinese New Year event next week.

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Filed under China, Events

MIM Resume Contest Winner: Suresh Kumar

By Jodi Nelson

Over half of the current MIM students participated in the resume contest offered in January. This is our second time hosting the contest as a way to motivate and encourage students to get their resumes updated in anticipation of summer internship hiring. In addition to the motivation to get an internship, students were also incentivized by the opportunity to win one of two Amazon gift cards.

20150210_083357The winner of the 2015 MIM Resume Contest was… Suresh Kumar. We had such strong resumes that we also awarded a second place prize to… Fraya Saquina. Here are some of the highlights from their resumes and these are also tips that all students should consider adding to their own resumes:

  • Include a link to your LinkedIn profile. Employers want to learn more about you so include your profile link and make sure you profile and photo are updated. Current students can learn more about how to utilize LinkedIn at the upcoming workshop on February 25.
  • Add details about your education. Include bullet points for highlights such as specialized coursework, a high GPA, student organization leadership, etc.
  • Incorporate all relevant experience including class projects and volunteer experience. If you are early in your career, then you might not have a lot of paid work experience. But you probably do have some substantial class projects that can demonstrate your skills. Or maybe you demonstrated leadership abilities through involvement with a community organization. Include these experiences on your resume.
  • Highlight your language skills. Many MIM students speak two, three or even four languages. That is very impressive to potential employers. So don’t leave those details off your resume!

In addition to the MIM Resume Contest, we offer many other resources and opportunities. Students are actually required to participate in the MIM Professional Passport Program where they are earn their way to gold status by completing checkpoints such as attending networking events, participating in the mentor program and completing an internship. The goal of the MIM Professional Passport is to help students stay on track with these career activities throughout their education and ultimately so that when they graduate they are ready to land their dream jobs.

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Connect to Community Networking Event

By Jake Culian

One of my favorite parts about the MIM program and the School of Business Administration at PSU in general are the networking events that they put on.  Last night several members of our cohort attended the quarterly event known as Connect to Community.  The event is held in the Pearl District at Bridgeport Brewery, http://www.bridgeportbrew.com/ .   This is one of many fine breweries in Portland which has helped develop its nickname of Beervana.

This was the first time that I’ve been able to make it to the Connect to Community event and I’m definitely planning on going back.  I felt it was a great event, not only because of the free food, but also because of the diversity of people who attended.  Not only where there current and previous MIM students, but also representatives from the other Masters programs out of the SBA.  In addition there were local business people, some members of the school administration as well as a few undergraduate alumni.

I really enjoyed this event because it got me into contact with a whole variety of new Alumni outside of my current program.  It’s always interesting to see which direction people have taken relatively similar degrees.  I particularly appreciate knowing all the different avenues you can possibly pursue with a degree in business.  I know that one of my bigger problems when looking for jobs is not even knowing what sort of options are available to consider and events like this one are great demonstrations of the length and breadth of the opportunities available.

This event is but one of many opportunities available to students and I would highly recommend going to as many of them as possible.  They’re almost all free and frequently put students in the same room as executives from companies like Nike, Boeing, Intel, or Blount.  If you’re interested in getting a job in the Portland area there’s no better way to get your name out there.  So I suggest you go check out the campus event page http://www.pdx.edu/psy/events/ and find something you’re interested in.

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Filed under Common Questions, Networking, Student Life