Power Dynamic: EMTM Students
See China's Globalization Opportunities & Challenges

With a population of 1.3 billion, average annual GDP growth over 10 percent for each of the past 25 years, and a rapidly emerging middle class, China is a stage on which the trends, challenges and opportunities of globalization are writ large.

In early 2008, a delegation of 32 EMTM students and alumni (plus two faculty members and a staff member) visited more than 15 companies during an eight-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai. Their trip to China was the culminating experience of EMTM's one-credit Global Experience Program, which spans EMTM's first and second term.

"Experiencing first-hand what it's like to do business in China, you see and feel things that no one could ever have told you," says Dwight Jaggard, Ph.D., director of EMTM, who traveled to China with the program. "Some EMTM students establish contacts in China for immediate business needs. Others, who would like to do business in China, learn about ways to do business there and identify the hurdles they need to surmount. And for still another set of students, the trip inspires an interest in someday living and working in China."

Describing a hectic schedule that had participants meeting with senior managers at three companies each day, Jaggard says, "Every day in China was worth the entire trip." Pre-trip seminars on China's culture, history and economy provided meaningful background and context for trip participants; their advance planning responsibilities included preparing industry and business overviews, and organizing senior management level corporate visits. Participants gained meaningful insights into the diverse Chinese business sectors visited, including energy, finance, manufacturing, transportation, life sciences and information technology.

Ken Guerin EMTM'09, senior systems engineer with Lockheed Martin, visited Ireland in 2007 with the Global Experience Program, and joined EMTM's trip to China this year as well. "I knew this would be a fantastic way to see China for the first time," says Guerin. "As I continue in my career at Lockheed Martin, I see global opportunities as inevitable. Trips like this demystify globalization and are an excellent foundation for understanding how international business is conducted — specifically in China, but also worldwide, because EMTM offers universal lessons about how to be competitive in the global marketplace."

EMTM's trip to China yielded valuable business contacts in Beijing and Shanghai for Zina Raye EMTM '09, senior business solutions consultant with Verizon Business. "A significant portion of my job relates to delivery of telecommunications and information technology services globally," says Raye. "Seeing the capabilities of Unisys and iSoftStone Information Service Corporation first-hand in China — instead of in a glossy brochure or PowerPoint presentation — definitely helped me understand what they can deliver when I look for a partner in China. For instance, when a client asks us for a help desk staffed by Mandarin speakers, we can offer core network services, but not enough people who speak Mandarin; this is a situation in which a partnership with a Chinese company makes perfect sense."

The EMTM students met with Loretta Evans EMTM '95, president of Geophysical and Technical Services (GTS), part of Gartnell Group Inc. In an informal Q&A session Loretta answered questions about the business environment in China, reflected on the career path that brought her to China, and shared her perspectives on doing business there. And, during a networking event in Shanghai, they enjoyed a substantive and inspiring presentation by Simon MacKinnon, a Penn alumnus and head of Corning's Greater China division. 

Maria Ficchi EMTM'07, a process engineer with Johnson & Johnson who also traveled to Ireland with EMTM last year, initially viewed this year's trip as a "once-in-a-lifetime" visit. "Afterwards," she says. "I realized China was a place where I could imagine living and working. Through EMTM and the Global Experience Programs I have realized my ability to develop expertise rapidly and to take on new responsibilities beyond my traditional engineering background, which will benefit me in any global opportunities I pursue. Visiting with a domestic biotech company such as CP Guojian, the Shanghai FDA, and the J&J Medical Training Institute gave me good insight into how China is progressing in the pharmaceutical and medical fields."

Noting China's rapid transformation from a state-controlled economy toward a free market, Ficchi says, "China is using the business models of the U.S. and Europe and is implementing them at a very quick speed. Chinese expatriates have been educated in, and have worked in, the U.S. for years, and are now returning to apply that experience in China."

Some of China's challenges mirror globalization pressures elsewhere in the world. China's rapid growth has triggered 20 percent annual growth in energy demand, currently supplied primarily by coal. Many Global Experience Program participants cited a visit to North China Grid Company as one highlight of the trip. North China operates a regional power grid for northern China and is a publicly-held firm — the majority of shares of which are held by the Chinese government.

Participants were impressed by North China's modern asset management systems for monitoring equipment, repair and replacement, and also by the firm's commitment to keeping pace with growth. Senior management at the firm discussed their interest in shifting from government pricing for power toward a market rate that would trigger energy conservation. "The problem now is that people don't see the real price of electricity because the rate is set by the government," says Guerin.

EMTM students also visited the more entrepreneurial firm, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), one of the world's largest solar energy companies. Suntech's three primary markets are Germany, Spain and Japan, which have significant and mature renewable energy subsidies. The United States and China itself represent a small but growing share of Suntech's sales of photovoltaic cells and modules.

Ironically, while many U.S. jobs have been outsourced to China, rising labor costs in China's major metropolitan areas have triggered a shift of manufacturing to outside those regions.

However, debate about globalization is a moot point for Dehong Xie EMTM '08. Xie, a program manager for Lockheed Martin, grew up in China, left the country at age 25, and returned ten years later with the EMTM trip. "It doesn't matter if you like globalization or not; it's happening so fast that everyone needs a strategy to deal with it," says Xie, who serves global information systems customers at Lockheed Martin. "You can't ignore or deny it, given the state of Chinese economic development."

Summing up the experience, Jeffrey Babin, director of the Global Experience Program, reflected, "I don't think anybody had an appreciation beforehand of the complexities of doing business with or in China. Now, people agree that there are tremendous opportunities to be had in China — but they don't come easily."

In early 2008, a delegation of 32 EMTM students and alumni (plus two faculty members and a staff member) visited more than 15 companies during an eight-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai.

China International Capital
   Corporation (CICC)
CP Goujian Pharmaceuticals
   Co., Ltd.
Hewlett Packard
Integrated Circuit Research
   Center (ICC Semiconductor)
Johnson & Johnson Medical
   Training Institute
Kelly Services
North China Grid
   Operations Center
Olympic Village
Shanghai FDA
Shanghai Railway Container
   Terminal Development Co., Ltd
Shanghai Stock Exchange
Suntech Power Holdings, Co.
Tsinghua - BP Clean Energy
   Research and Education Center

Additional Meetings
and Presentations:

Loretta Evans, D.Sc., EMTM '95,
   The Gartrell Group, Inc.
Oliver Huang, Section Chief,
   Wujiang Investment Promotion
   Bureau of Jiangsu Province
Simon MacKinnon, President,
   Greater China, Corning
Jamie Shuai,
   Deputy Division Chief,
   Euro-America I, Investment
   Promotion Bureau
   Suzhou Industrial Park
Cobe Zhong,
   Senior Investment Officer,
   Wujiang Municipal Investment
   Promotion Bureau
   of Jiangsu Province

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