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MIM Asia Trip: Tokyo, Part 2

By Megan Nelson

The next stop on the MIM Asia Trip was Hino Motors, which is the trucking division of Toyota. Hino currently has manufacturing plants around the world, with over 10,000 employees. The focus for Hino is on service, then sales, as they want to provide a safe and reliable vehicle for their customers.

Currently, Hino is focusing on environmental technology, with clean air emission systems, pre-crash safety, and continuing to be the world leader in fuel-efficient vehicles. Hino Motors manufactures vehicles based on the Toyota Kanban system of production. Within this system, Hino is pursuing a lower cost through waste elimination in order to increase profits. Kanban is used as a tool for Kaizen, which is improving the motion of workers and eliminating waste time. It was interesting to see a plant with completely different manufacturing practices from Nissan, and it put the differences of global manufacturing into perspective.

We then visited the Bridgestone Museum. Bridgestone, “Your Journey, Our Passion,” opened their first plant in Tokyo in 1960. Bridgestone designs, manufactures, and sells tires for cars, trucks, buses, construction vehicles, and aircrafts. They also create products for everyday use, such as bike tires, sporting goods, seismic isolators, eva film for solar panels, conveyer belts, etc. All of their products are made with rubber technology, which is developed in their state-of-the-art R&D centers.

Bridgestone acquired Firestone Tire & Rubber in 1981, in order to improve on the technology of their brand. They currently operate 178 plants in twenty-five countries. One of the most interesting parts of this visit was seeing the seismic isolators. This technology has revolutionized building in Japan because of the high number of earthquakes that occur there each year. This technology has helped to save a lot of infrastructure and lives throughout the country.

The final visit was to Kao Group, which innovates, develops, and sells consumer goods. Kao has received many honors, including being the World’s Most Ethical Company for seven years straight. They reinvest over five percent of their earnings to R&D and much more than that in marketing. One of their competitive advantages is in their marketing and research. A focus on consumer behavior, lifestyle, habits, and the surrounding market structure all go into the research and has helped the company be continually successful for over 120 years. Kao was a different type of visit because we learned a lot about their marketing techniques and how they leverage this competitive advantage within the market. It was not entirely focused on the supply chain and manufacturing aspects of the company.

For the last day and a half that the MIM students were in Tokyo, we had free time to do as we pleased. A group of students went to Mt. Fuji. It was an amazing experience, seeing this breathtaking volcano from many angles, playing in the snow at its base, and learning about the name. Fuji literally means “fire mountain.”

After the tour around the mountain, there was lunch in Hakone, near the hot springs. The food and the scenery were well worth the four-hour bus ride (round trip). Near the hot springs, it is custom to eat black eggs, which are said to extend your life for seven years, per egg eaten. The eggshells are black because they are boiled in the hot springs, where the sulfur changes the color of the shell. The day ended with a boat ride and a sunset view of Mt. Fuji. Other students wandered around Tokyo, visiting the Tokyo Tower, the Sky Tree, Asakusa Temple, the fish market, and many other locations. There is a plethora of activities to participate in and places to see throughout the city. Tokyo definitely has a personality all its own!P1010843 P1010870

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From Theory to Practice

By Ana Lia Barragán

Pursuing the Master of International Management degree at Portland State University has given me the opportunity to do an internship at the Business Outreach Program (BOP), allowing me to implement the classroom knowledge I have gained in the program in a real business environment.

The BOP was founded twenty years ago and is dedicated to helping businesses in the community achieve their potential while giving students the opportunity to work with and learn from these companies.

I started my marketing internship in this community-oriented organization in January 2014. The BOP serves clients from diverse industries and with diverse profiles, which has made every project very exciting. However, every new task is also very challenging. As an intern, you are not only reading about a problem in a case study for class, but also discussing real-world problems with clients. The challenge is to identify ways for the businesses to overcome whichever obstacle they may be facing, and this is when the training received in the MIM program becomes an immense resource.

From market research to marketing plans, every skill we have learned during the program is important and necessary. All the pain and hard work we go through is certainly preparing us for the real world. The concepts that I have learned in class have helped me think about problems analytically and find creative solutions to diverse issues. It is rewarding when I see how my education is helping businesses improve their performance.

Moreover, this position has given me a chance to experience what working is all about. I am now completely booked and flooded with emails. Balancing my studies, my work, and my private life has become a challenge. It is clear to me now why there is so much talk about work-life balance. Nevertheless, the experience I am gaining makes it worth it.

Having to work and study at the same time is both challenging and rewarding. You not only get work experience that will make your resume more attractive, but you also get the opportunity to implement the knowledge you have gathered in your studies. It is the best way to make theory tangible.

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Age of Pacific Lecture Series: Dr. William Bernstein

By Gayathri Selvaraj

Dr. William Bernstein is a doctor, financial advisor, and famous author of several history and economics books. Originally from Portland, Oregon, he began his career as a medical practitioner. He started his writing career with finance, but he was soon approached to write a book on the history of world trade. In 2006, he took this opportunity and wrote the book, titled A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, which soon became one of his best sellers. On February 24, 2014, Dr. Bernstein visited Portland State University to give the Master of International Management students a speech on the importance of the history of world trade.

Dr. Bernstein started his speech with two vignettes from the seventeenth century. The first one begins in 1635, when the Spanish barbers in Mexico City complained about the presence of Chinese barbers. The second one begins in 1931, when a small boy walked on the beach in Western Australia and discovered a handful of silver coins, which were later found to be Spanish coins from the seventeenth century. They start searching for a shipwreck, but there is no sign of one. Thirty years later, fishermen find the destroyed ship, which originated from Amsterdam in 1655, and recover thousands of such silver coins. These stories make one wonder what the Chinese barbers were doing in Mexico City in 1635 and how a Dutch ship made it to Australia before the country was even discovered. To understand, we need to know about the three luxury international trade commodities during that period, which were spices, silk, and silver.

Spices were very valuable once. Everyone believed they came from the “Spice Islands,” and whichever nation controlled spice trade was considered to be very wealthy. Silk, which originated in China nearly 5,000 years ago, made its way to Europe, Persia, and India. The farther from China, the lower the quality of the silk. At the time, Europeans had silver, which the Asians wanted to exchange for goods. Although, the Spanish were responsible for discovering silver, which soon became the global currency.

Putting together the different pieces, Dr. Bernstein explained that the Spanish took the silver and shipped it to Manila, where they exchanged it for spices and silk. On the way to Mexico, the traders also brought a few Chinese people. The standard route westerners took was through the Cape of Good Hope, but it was important to know when to turn left or else they would crash into western Australia. In 1635, one such ship suffered that fate and was destroyed. The rescuers who dived to find chests of silver failed to find anything worthy, and instead, a small boy walking on the beach discovered the silver coins. Furthermore, Dr. Bernstein explained to us the role of transportation systems existing at the time: land and water. The availability of cheap goods and labor resulted in protectionist attitudes and was seen as one of the root causes for World War II. By the end of the nineteenth century, all the elements of globalization were in place—trade wars that culminated with the Smoot-Hawley tariff act.

Dr. Bernstein’s speech was very informative and educational. His descriptions of globalization and international trade were very helpful to understanding how important it is to learn history in order to recognize patterns.

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