From April 14 until April 16, the CEBS and ESSCA students went on a field trip to Ningbo as part of the Asian Business Research Project module.
After our bus driver managed Shanghai’s ill-famed morning traffic jam and crossing the longest cross-sea bridge in the world (36 km), we arrived at Hangzhou Bay in Ningbo. Hangzhou Bay New Zone is famous as the economic golden triangle connecting the three large cities Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo next to the Yangzte River Delta.
Our first company visit was at Faurecia, the 6th largest automotive parts supplier in the world. Faurecia has sites in 34 countries and is the preferred partner of large automakers such as Volkswagen, BMW and Volvo.
We where first kindly introduced to the company and to all the authorities. Moreover, each of us got a safety vest, goggles and shoes and a delicious piece of black forest cake, to enter the factory safe and strengthened. Going through the production hall, we were introduced to the different production processes of auto parts, and of course, part of interior was a badminton field as well as a Ping-Pong table. It was very interesting to see how a large multinational company is operating in China and surprisingly most of the processes were still carried out by men.
After lunch, we switched perspective and visited Fotile Kitchenware, a luxury kitchen equipment company from China. The production site was already from the outside stunning and modern but the inside of the showrooms was simply amazing. Firstly, we were allowed to touch and experience each and every single Fotile kitchenware and furthermore got detailed explanations. Afterwards we visited the high-tech production site.
After an exhausting but fascinating first day, we finally reached the hotel. CEBS went to a traditional Ningbo restaurant where we ate delicacies from bullfrog to dumplings. Fully motivated we went on a KTV (Karaoke) marathon for 4 hours, and I can tell you, new stars were born that night.
Day 2 was themed creativity and innovation; our first stop was at Hefeng Creative Square, where we saw one of the oldest buildings in Ningbo. The Creative Square consisted of a 100 years old mill site and several other factory building, where we got to see traditional and modern art.
Then we went to the Scholar Innovation Park of Ningbo, which is a government institution supporting entrepreneurs with accommodation, office space and additional services for their start-ups. This place has formed some famous business tycoons known all over China. Interesting for us to know, also foreigners can start their business here and will also be supported by the Chinese government.
This was followed by the visit of the Nordic Industrial Park Ningbo, which has a total land area of 290,000m2 for industrial activities and helping foreign-owned companies to set up their business in China.
Our last night was spent with the entire group at Ningbo’s most famous restaurant and afterwards at the oldest bar in Ningbo. As the day was quite exhausting, we relaxed a la Chinese style with some drinking games and billiards.
The next morning we where all exhausted but professional as we are, we started our last day bright and early by visiting a family owned company, which produces massage and hairdresser seats.
This experience was completely different from our other company visits. We had lunch together with the factory workers in a typical Chinese workers canteen. Against all expectations the food was delicious, so never judge a book by its cover. The plant had almost no safety rules and workers seem to have their own rhythm of working, nothing seemed to be organized or standardized, but still the final product was still exceptional.
On our way back to Shanghai, we naturally got stuck in traffic and I had time to reflect on the roadshow. Besides taking 100 pictures in front of company logos with everyone and gawking Chinese eyes, I really enjoyed this trip. The opportunity we had to visit foreign-, Chinese-, private- and governmental institutions and companies was great.
This trip was an important step for us as future China-Europe experts and strengthened our business knowledge as well as our personal relations with each other.