May 7th

Today’s blog is brought to you by Dean Little, Breanna MacEachern, and Hunter Dunn.

Hunter is a recent Mining Engineering graduate from the University of Alberta, enjoys quality cigars and looks devastating in a striped three-piece. Breanna was born in the year of the Dragon, and her two claims fame are being a mediocre biathlete and placing third in Karate at the 2004 Alberta Winter Games… by default. Dean is an Aries, and in his spare time dabbles in professional photography, or at least destroying others attempts at the same.

The wake up call for day four of our trip came at 6:15am. Stumbling around, we again gazed in marvel at the heated bathroom mirror that refuses to fog under any circumstances. Why isn’t this technology in every mirror?

Breakfast, as usual, was excellent. The Traders Hotel has probably set a high water mark for all future breakfast buffet experiences.

Blue skies greeted us as we made our way to our trusty steed, the Jolly Time Travel Bus – an auspicious start to what would be another amazing day in Beijing. This would be our first opportunity for Business dress, and the classes’ attire did not disappoint. As an aside, future trips should consider requiring business dress at all times – we looked amazing.

Our first destination, a lecture from Dr. Xudong Gao at the PBC School of Finance. Dr. Gao is an Associate Professor of the Department of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, as well as Director of the MBA Program at Tsinghua School of Economics and Management.

Tsinghau University has a student population of about 80,000, and is considered the pre-eminent business school in China. All students live on campus in dorms. Unlike western universities, Chinese post-secondary institutions create and invest in private businesses. Some of these businesses are publicly traded, and are a significant source of income. The campus itself strongly resembled western universities with lots of trees and open space.

Dr. Gao’s lecture focused on the changing strategies of Chinese companies from technology transfer and acquisition, to innovation and development. Dr. Gao used examples from the telecommunications industry to show how different companies have benefited (or not) from a shift to innovation. We finished our time at the university with a walking tour of campus.

After a quick lunch in a local mall, we headed off to GE Health Care. At GE, we listened to a brief overview of all of GE’s business before focusing on GE’s medical device interests in China. The facility we visited has been in operation for 23 years. Our tour of assembly floor showed us CT, X-ray and MRI machines in various states of construction. One of the most interesting observations on our tour was the integration of extremely high tech assembly with labour intensive process. We saw little automation, and many of the reporting tools and metrics on the floor were on simple whiteboards. Coming from an Oil & Gas planning background, it was very interesting to see that a lot of the terminology and format for reporting of key metrics was familiar.

Upon returning to the hotel, the group was on our own for dinner. Some people chose to continue practicing the art of the haggle at the silk market, while others went to the Wangfujing night market. Later on, most of the group met at Atmosphere, a lounge on the 80th floor of the tallest office building in Beijing – China World Trade Center Tower III. We were serenaded by a New York Jazz group, and later on received our very own U of A shout out. Drinks were exotic (and priced accordingly). The night ended relatively early as we prepared to fly out the next morning to Xi’an.

Random notes:
• four lane intersections in busy university areas are the BEST place to do U-turns.
• Somehow no matter how tight we are for time, Samar and Kulwinder always manage to get a coffee (and aren’t late)
• The Chinese can even make air conditioners look cute

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