The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) – Singapore’s Settin’ up Franchises…

14 08 2013

… and I went to check it out (with Yan Zhihua and company from Z.H. STUDIO) and came away very, very impressed.

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SIP isn’t what I expected. Think about that word… Industrial Park. Now imagine one in Suzhou, one of China’s major industrial cities. What are you picturing?

If you’re like me, you’re probably picturing warehouses… refineries… manufacturing plants… big, belching smokestacks. Not exactly a fun place to spend the afternoon. You probably weren’t thinking of this:

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Moving Along

12 06 2013

Module D is almost over, and I’m almost out from under my pile of finance classes. Blogging has been far lighter this year than originally planned; this blog started as part of a marketing fellowship for Hult, and it’s gone through a few rethinks since then, but I’ve decided that I need to take it in a new direction. Before we get to that, though, a few updates:

-iTV-Asia and it’s new sister site, iTV-Vietnam, will soon be back online. We have 40 new content contributors signed to the company, and a few new employees in Ho Chi Minh City who will be taking over a lot of the day-to-day maintenance. I plan to start contributing China Author Forum book reviews again.

-while no timetable is yet official, I plan to move back to the US by September. Exactly where I’m going has yet to be decided- finding a position with a company is a higher priority. If you know of any openings in strategy, marketing or business development with an IT or telecom firm (established or funded startup), or in strategy, marketing and product development consulting, please contact me- I’d be very interested in hearing more. If I don’t have a position or a solid lead by the time I graduate in mid-August, I’ll probably be moving to either the San Francisco or Seattle area to begin my search.

More in a few days…

[edit: I’ve decided I should probably reserve this blog for concerns more directly related to Hult, China & Shanghai; I think anything else would probably not fit the tone.]

 





Online Coursework and Hult

3 05 2013

This open letter from the San Jose State University’s philosophy department, published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, has been floating around the internet for the last few days and is igniting controversy- is it’s argument that live faculty are necessary for real university classes legitimate, or is it simply a case of turf protection?

Clearly, if it’s simply a matter of information transfer, having live-taught classes with full professors is probably a waste; books are a much more efficient medium for data, and software tutorials and simulators are better for teaching the preliminaries of hard skills; beyond that, the basic questions that come up and the sort of nuts and bolts of practical application can be taken care of by teaching assistants. Lecture-based learning is functionally obsolete- why take a lecture class from Dr. Joe from the University of Wherever when you can watch a lecture by the greatest living (and in some cases deceased) scholar in the world? In the case of this letter, they’re reacting against the Justice course taught by Michael Sandel… one of the foremost ethical philosophers on the planet. It’s easy to see how he could be a tough act to follow. (And I’ve watched a few of the lectures… back in my English teaching days, one of my colleagues used excerpts from them in his classes for advanced students.)

 

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CSR and Strategy: Mixed Signals?

2 05 2013

Module C has drawn to a close here at Hult, and most of my classmates have said goodbye, off to one or more of Hult’s other global campuses. I’m not rotating- Shanghai Campus offers plenty of good classes, and while it could have been fun, it just struck me as an unnecessary expense that I can’t afford right now. Anyway, I’m probably more valuable here (as an “old hand” to Shanghai life) than I am elsewhere right now. Module C of the Hult MIB program is mainly focused around two core classes, Strategy and CSR, that essentially serve as the capstone classes of the Hult core curriculum. After going through the basics of accounting and management in Module A, and tearing through finance, economics and marketing in Module B, these last two classes (before the electives of Module D and action project in Module E) put it all together, framing how the material we’ve covered so far goes together to create a corporate strategy, and the ethical implications and considerations that should be taken when designing and implementing one. Having now gone through the Hult core curriculum, it’s become obvious to me how much the school’s roots in management consulting influence it- the whole thing is essentially a course in how to be a consultant- a useful set of tools to take into any business role.

The two professors we had for these classes- Dr. Cheng-hua Tzeng, from Taiwan, and Dr. Farzad Rafi Khan, from Pakistan, couldn’t have been more different… except that they shared a very surprising bond- both earned their Ph.D.s in Strategy and Organizational Management at McGill under management theory legend Henry Mintzberg, and even shared the same cubicle as grad students! It was uncanny- and apparently coincidental- that they ended up teaching the same students, at the same time, at Hult… yet what a contrast.

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The Problem of MBA Romance

27 02 2013

Angela: I’m not sure if I love you enough. How do you know I love you?

Me: You’ve invested a lot into me.

Angela: I’ve never been good at investment. Finance was my worst subject.

Me: I’m high risk and unprofitable in the short term. Think of yourself as a venture capitalist.

Angela: What about you? Do you think you’ve invested enough in me?

Me: I’m sorry my capital allocation hasn’t been higher lately.

Angela: Can I divest myself of you?

Me: I was hoping you’d take me to IPO.

… and that was about the time I got slapped.





The Wisdom of Paul Denlinger

29 01 2013

I’ve been very negligent in my blogging as of late, and intend to pick up the pace again. I’ve been working an internship with Z.H. Studio, a PR consulting firm that primarily works to promote industrial parks and investment opportunities to VC firms, named have the founder, Yan Zhihua (“Z.H.”). Between this and my classes at Hult- Global Economics and Financial Management, I’ve been staying pretty busy.

While I’ll have a longer post up later this week (promise!), and perhaps a new book review (fingers crossed), for now here are a few quotes from digital renaissance man Paul Denlinger that I found in a text file when I was cleaning out my hard drive. Few foreign nationals know the ins and outs of China’s IT industry better than Paul, who has been working with – and for- Chinese internet firms since the 1990s. While there are times when we wouldn’t agree on the color of the sky – and he can certainly be a wet blanket at times – I deeply respect his knowledge and experience. He has some advice to younger professionals just starting out:

“Think that a good way is to make an argument, back it up with data, and make the data fun for not smart people (like CEOs) easy to manipulate using data visualization techniques. Then they can walk away saying “Ingenious! We need to hire this guy!””

“The trick is to get hired by CEOs and show them some tricks, which they use to impress their staff how brilliant they are. And staying very quiet and floating around in the background so that you don’t steal their thunder.”

“You can think big problems and ask big questions when you are in your 50s and have proven yourself and written a few books. Now, you need to think about where your contribution can make a tangible difference. Think small. Say no to things which distract you.”

“Early in your career, focus is your single most important friend, before time becomes your enemy. Anything which takes away from focus is your enemy.”

“Start with small simple goals. Things you can do in one day, one week. Don’t aim too high in the beginning, because you will fail and fall back to the old ways (which is not good). Build up your confidence that you can change.”

Wise words from a guy who knows what he’s talking about.





Crystal Ball 2013

2 01 2013

I’m not much of a prophet (if I was, my portfolio would be considerably larger), but I’m going to go out on a limb and make some predictions regarding 2013. Come January 1st 2014, you all have a right to heckle me for being so terribly wrong. (This should have gone up yesterday, but I’d just flown back from HCMC and didn’t feel like writing.)

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We’re #21! We’re #21!

18 12 2012

Not too shabby for a school that (despite the claim of the logo) is less than a decade old.

Hult reached 21st place on The Economist’s list of North American MBAs, once again taking first place for largest salary increase (bringing large numbers of young professionals from the developing world to the developed will have that effect), and putting it within striking distance of the top 20, breathing down the Duke Fuqua School of Business’ neck.

Here in Shanghai, we’re days away from going on winter break; for the MIB cohorts, everything is finished except our final accounting exam. We’ve received our class assignments and syllabi for next module and it looks like an exciting and busy term is coming up in January – Financial Management, Global Economics, and International Marketing… all of which I’m looking forward to eagerly.

Provided the world doesn’t end the day after my accounting final.





CFA Exam Day Arrives

1 12 2012

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The big day finally came. Was I prepared? No. I’d forgotten about three quarters of the formulas and ratios I’d tried to memorize. I still don’t quite “get” fixed income trading, or technical analysis. My head swam as I tried to keep my sigmas and betas straight.

 

I’ll be lucky if I break into the top cohort of failures, let alone pass. Better luck in June, I suppose.

 

But most importantly, I learned something today, something that has nothing to do with financial analysis, economics, or remembering the difference between accounting for amortization and depletion, or Chebyshev’s inequality and the Sharpe ratio.

 

I got a taste – a tiny one – of what it feels like to be a Chinese student.

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Why China Will Eat Your IT Company For Lunch: The Kingdom of Mao Bell, Two Decades Later

21 11 2012

“It works in the West, the Chinese must want my service!”

 

“I can outperform a Chinese competitor. I am smarter than they are and have more money.”

 

“My product is globally accepted, the government won’t have a problem.”

Famous last words, says Hult guest professor and e-business entrepreneur Toine Rooijmans. The Chinese ecommerce space is famously littered with the corpses of foreign companies that thought they had it figured out, only to find themselves a smear on the pavement of China’s crowded information superhighway. And we’re not talking about small-time entrepreneurs here- eBay, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Groupon and, most notoriously, Google, have all found themselves shut out of- or crushed by- the Chinese market.

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