måndag, januari 05, 2015

Gästblogg: Asia at its peak!

Tillsammans med VINNOVA arrangerar ESBRI uppsatstävlingen Nytt&Nyttigt. De lyckliga vinnarna i årets upplaga offentliggjordes i samband med VINNOVAs årskonferens 2 december. Pristagarna får resebidrag som ska utnyttjas i fortbildningssyfte. Förra årets tredjepristagare, Marc Hoogendoorn, valde att lägga sina vinstpengar på en resa till Asien. Nedan följer en gästblogg om hans upplevelser. / Jonas

In October I traveled throughout Eastern Asia’s economic hubs. This wonderful opportunity was offered to me as a study trip by ESBRI and VINNOVA for winning third price in the yearly Nytt&Nyttigt thesis competition. I visited Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore where I went to the main economic areas and interviewed international and local business people.

I am personally working as a consultant in business intelligence with mostly major international companies. In the mean time I am in the development of an internationally focused new business. My current business focus and connections are in Western and Eastern Europe. For me a natural extension to my current experience was to obtain knowledge on business in Asia, mainly because of its continuously rising importance in the world economy. As I recall one of my interviewees said – ‘Asia is where it is happening right now’.

I had never seen this many high-rise buildings and construction areas in my life. Especially in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur it seemed like there were mega projects being executed everywhere. Several of my interviewees were working in the architectural business and confirmed that construction in the area was in an enormous up rise. Shopping malls, office buildings, apartments, extremely luxurious hotels – it seemed like there was no end to it.

There was economic activity going on everywhere. From the airport to the hotel, to the business districts, there were people working all kinds of odd jobs, all the time. Shops closing at 6 and designated weekend opening times? Not there. As was explained to me, many shop holders and taxi drivers owned the assets of the company as a family and changed shifts in between. I was told that many taxi vehicles there were operational almost 24/7. Talk about work mentality!

An aspect of doing business in Asia that kept recurring in almost all the interviews and conversations I had was trust and networking. According to the people I interviewed this is the most important element to success for businesses in Asia. Good and trustworthy relations are considered highly valuable and are cherished. I was told that it is was not uncommon that the directors or owners of companies would intermingle, exchange gifts, celebrate and network together while not even discussing the actual topic, which would be handled by the subordinates.

Altogether the trip for me personally was educating and gave me vastly different and fresh perspectives. I think that it is very helpful to examine other cultures and reassess our own usual conduct. Especially the personal networking element was very insightful. In Asia it is so obvious and open but perhaps, under the surface, doing business in Europe it is not that much different.

/Marc Hoogendoorn

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