What a month. Rather than restrict ourselves to just being on campus we all spread out – across the world. Yes this month was International business trip time as the eighty odd full timers along with the executive MBA'ers visited our chosen country for 7-8 days. As a quick reminder we had the choice of a business trip to Brazil, China or Japan where you get to visit local businesses and Cranfield Alumni; or a field trip to Egypt, Ghana, Mongolia, Nepal or Uganda where you get to work on an actual project with a local business. To give you a sense of the diversity of the countries and experiences on offer I have borrowed an excerpt from our farewell email (which at a minimum will provide some nice trivia for the next dinner party):
· The distance between Kathmandu and Sao Paolo is 15,223 kilometres.
· Japan’s PPP GDP at $37470 is 23 times higher than Ghana’s at $ 1,620.
· China’s population is 1,347,350,015; the population of Mongolia is 2,584,000 or to put in another way, for every Mongolian there are 521 Chinese.
· In Japan you can expect to live 82.6 years; in Uganda the average life expectancy is 54.7 years.
· Under-five mortality rate (deaths /1,000 live births) in Egypt have fallen 68% in 20 years to 25 per 1000 births; in Uganda the rate is 91.61 deaths/1,000 live births; in Brazil it is 20 and in Japan 2.13
· 32% of Egypt’s population is under 15 years of age; in China it is 16%
· Population density in Nepal is 466 people per sq. mile; in Mongolia it is 5 and in Ghana it is 267.
· China’s annual CO2 emissions are 6,534,367.00 tonnes; Uganda emitted just 3205 tonnes in 2008.
· Brazil’s rainforests cover a total area of 4,100,000 square kilometres, 20 times the total area of the Ghana.
· In Japan there are 747,000,000 mobile phones whereas in Uganda there are approximately 9,000,000
· The ratio of the average income of the richest 10% to the poorest 10% in Japan is 4.3; in Brazil it is 51.3
· Sao Paulo and Tokyo are furthest away from Cranfield at 9545 and 9526 kms respectively while the nearest is Cairo at 3514 kms
I had the fortune of an extraordinary trip to China. One of the clear learning’s from China is that it takes time to know and understand China and so after only one week there (and only visiting Shanghai and Beijing) I am reluctant to make any conclusions except to say having visited many countries through Asia nothing has been quite like China. There is a sense that China sees itself not as an emerging country but one that is simply re-emerging after a two hundred year blip in their long term economic strength.
One of the benefits of visiting China was being able to meet with many Cranfield Alumni who have done their MBA or MSc at Cranfield. They hosted us for drinks at both Shanghai and Beijing and often hosted us at the company visits such as GE Aviation, Cosco and Sinotrans. We had impressive speakers including Peter Lacy, Managing Director - Asia Pacific Region, Sustainability Services at Accenture; Peggy Liu, Chairperson, Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), Professor David Gosset - Director of Academia Sinica Europea, Director of ECCIR, CEIBS; Simon Stewart (CBBC) who all expanded our perspective of China.
One thing that struck me was the extraordinary statistics regarding this country: Shanghai, the largest city proper by population in the world is close to 24million (the unofficial population is supposedly many millions higher), greater than the population of my home country Australia; Pudong an area of Shanghai, east side of the Huangpu river is a built up metropolis with a population of well over 5million, and eleven times the size of the area of Paris at 1,210 square kilometres and yet was only rice paddy fields 30 years ago; there is expected to be approximately 220 cities with a population greater than 1million people by 2025; less than a decade ago China started putting in their high speed rail network and it is now the longest in the world with around 8,400km of routes; there are 6.4million university graduates each year in China…. And the stats go on and on. I feel fortunate to have at least got a start on understanding this country and will watch with interest as it continues its re-emergence.
My end of the month summed up the eclectic mix of experiences that this MBA year has provided. On the second last day in China I sat with a small group having a fascinating conversation with Andrew Key – Minister and Deputy head of Mission at the British Embassy in Beijing, the following day I celebrated my birthday walking a section of the Great Wall of China, the following day I was back in Cranfield reuniting with my family and the cohort at the infamous Social club, the day after I was in the old exclusive Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London hearing a fantastic talk from Andrew Kakabadse, Professor of International Management Development at Cranfield and then the next three days in back to back lectures on topics ranging from Mergers and Acquisitions, Leadership, Implementing Change in organisations, and Advanced Negotiation. What an extraordinary year it has been and there is still more to come. Until next time……