May 10th, MBA China Study Tour 2013

“Our morning began with a wild stampede of students rushing to the hotel lobby at 5:45am. The previous night, Jayne informed us that the last to arrive would have to write the blog for the last day of our trip. When all was said and done, Marthe and Lorina were the tardiest, and will therefore regale readers with the story of our final day in China when the time comes.

Our final moments in Xi’an were spent observing locals dancing and doing tai-chi in public parks along the way to the airport. We also learned about Chinese preferences towards having a baby boy or girl. In the past, boys were preferred, but now that the price of paying for weddings and purchasing homes for young  couple has escalated for the parents of the boy, these sentiments have reversed.

After an uneventful flight, we touched down in Shanghai and met our next tour guide, John. On the ride into the city, John discussed the difference between old China from 20 years ago (people were poor and happy) and new China (people are less poor, but have many pressures). He also informed us of how expensive it was to own a car in Shanghai due to the price of the car, licence, and parking. The prices for the licence and parking are used to deter all 23 million people from buying a car, because the city isn’t set up for that much traffic; car culture is only 6 years old, whereas the infrastructure is mostly much older.

Since traffic was bad, we arrived at BaoSteel about an hour and a half late. Fortunately, we were still able to witness a raw block of iron transform into a spool of sheet metal. china2We were also able to tour the “garden plant” (thus named for the huge number of trees planted on the 20 square kilometre site). china1The tour concluded with a view of the shipping facilities and some history about the development of the facilities since the 1970’s.


The day ended much as it began: with a stampede of students being measured for suits and shirts, then a similar crowd of students in small rooms singing karaoke. Before the end of this trip, we will undoubtedly look better, but our singing is still suspect”

This blog post was submitted to me by Neil Kjelland, Aruna Bissonauth, Allan Cheung and Peyvand Turkington
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Two great days in Rio de Janeiro

We left our hotel for a city tour at 9:00 am on Saturday that took us to the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain. The tram is a 15 minute ride up the mountain, and we got really lucky because it was a crystal clear day.  Normally the statue is shrouded in cloud because of its height.  We learned that Rio de Janeiro translates to River of January.  The Portuguese thought the bay was the mouth of a huge river, and they arrived in January, hence Rio de Janeiro.  Turned out there was no river, but the name stuck.  


From the top of the mountain you can see Botafogo Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches, and the Formula 1 racetrack.  We also saw the Cathedral with its beautiful stained glass panels, and then traveled to the gondola on Sugarloaf Mountain.  For James Bond fans, this is where Jaws and Bond fight on the tram in the movie Moonraker.  The tour took the entire day, and we arrived back at our hotel at 5:30. 


We stayed in a new area called Barra da Tijuca.  Their beach runs a stunning 17 kilometres of the cleanest and finest sand in the world.  People play footvolley, a combination of football and volleyball, as any other body other than hands can be used to volley the ball over the net.

There was no schedule for Sunday, so everyone relaxed on the beach while the adventurous body surfed the waves; a few sore muscles today but no injuries.  We also took in the “hippy market” in Ipanema, a Sunday market where artisans sell their wares, and concluded our weekend stay in Rio with an evening beach party.  We are now off to Sao Paulo for more company and university visits. 


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May 9th, MBA China Study Tour 2013

“We woke up and enjoyed the buffet breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast had many more western options than the Beijing Hotel breakfast, but also included many Chinese staples.

We left the hotel at 8am and then travelled to Honeywell China Study Tour 2013 098for a presentation from the Marketing Manager, Ronnie. Joining us for the presentation were several students from a partner University in Xi’an. After the presentation we had a Q and A and then visited their product room where we viewed products and interacted with the Chinese students.
During the event Matt asked a student how to translate a question he had. the Chinese student happily obliged.  We are not sure how Matt knew, but his spider sense tingled and he decided to run the translation past Fengwei. Fengwei’s only response was to laugh and suggest that Matt not repeat anything he just said. We gathered for a couple of group pictures and then left. Noticeable was the fact that Ronnie was not your typical Marketing Manager; he seemed quite understated and soft spoken.

We then travelled to a lunch buffet with a large selection of foods. We appeared to arrive just after an African tour group and the competition for the food was great. At one point there was a number from our group standing around a circular buffet table and no one was moving. It was a mexican standoff. Except in China. And with buffet plates instead of guns. Finally someone had the idea that even if we didn’t move we could pass or plates to our classmates around the table and get a few more items added to our plates.

After lunch we headed to the Xi’an city wall where we rented bikesChina Study Tour 2013 101 and rode around the 14 kilometre city wall. The city wall was bumpy and you needed to watch out for chipped or missing bricks that made the bumpy ride even bumpier. Most people rented single bikes but a few tried tandems. Sean and Marthe shared a tandem and after a failed corner led by Marthe, they switched spots and Sean recklessly (Sean: it wasn’t reckless, it was just exciting) led the rest of the journey. While on the city wall we stopped frequently to take pictures. The best picture was of a police car with an obvious spelling error, the car which read “PLOICE”. Xian, although a second tier Chinese city, had large condos or large condos under construction in all of the sight-lines from our bikes. It was quite remarkable to see how built up and dense a smaller city in China could be.China Study Tour 2013 114

After the city wall we headed to the Muslim quarter where we wandered the markets. A trip low-light was the most disgusting bathroom so far. Details of which should not be shared. While at the market some people bought a few more souvenirs and many were even brave enough to try street meat and other foods from the various vendors. A popular street meat among the locals was Golden Retriever – just kidding! There was a lot of shopping to be done as well but we were pressed for time. As usual, we had to barter hard for our purchases (Except for Neil, whose dark passenger kept talking him into buying nothing).

After the Muslim quarter we had our dumpling dinner (NaNaNaNaNaNaNa Dumpling feast!) where we tasted nearly 20 different dumplings. Unfortunately the bird flu concerns meant that chicken was off the menu and pork and beef dominated the various selections.

After dinner the group divided into three groups. One group walked back and were able to enjoy the great weather along with a mechanical bull and dancing/umbrella twirling in the public square. Another group headed back to the hotel and exercised and/or swam in the hotel pool. The final group went to a cultural show about the history of The Tang Dynasty.

Things seemed to wind up at a reasonable hour as the morning required our luggage to be ready for transport to the airport by 5:45am.”

This blog post was submitted to me by Sean Feehan, Gagan Duhra and Mike Meldrum

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May 9th – Curitiba

Another packed and exciting day in Curitiba.  We enjoyed the rare opportunity to tour the Reneault factory outside if Curitiba.  They were wonderful hosts and by van toured us through the assembly plant of their new vehicle.  We saw robots stamping sheet metal into side panels and hoods and watched cars being inspected in the finishing station. As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, Reneault helps mothers and children in a poverty area by creating sewing work for the mothers and feeding 120 children everyday.  We had the pleasure of enjoying lunch at their Cantina with the children, who sang a welcome song to us. We supported their cause by buying reusable bags and lunch.  What a rich and heartwarming experience!Image

We then visited HSBC’s largest bank in Curitiba. Each year they hold a festival of children singing in their windows and is watched by over 200,000  people in the square.  we concluded the day with a visit to the Universidade Federal de Parana, the oldest University in the state of Parana. 

We concluded the day with a dinner at a “Churrascaria Rodizio”, an all you can eat meat restaurant. We said goodbye to our great host Marcelo Reis with a gift from all the students.Image


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NREE in Germany – Arrival

For the story behind the pictures go to

NREE in Germany – Arrival

At the Frankfurt Station 2013 Frankfurt Airport Germany Country Side 2 Germany Country Side Hindenberg In First Class On the Train to Freiberg Speed of the Train

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Day 2 -Curitiba

We had a fantastic day in Curitiba.  Started with a visit to IPPUC, the Institute of Urban Planning for the Municipality of Curitiba.  We saw a great presentation on their master plan, showing how they have revised it by creating a new transportation corridor that will accommodate growth.  As they suggest, build the infrastructure and the people will come.  We learned about their amazing transportation model, something we could learn from in Canada. This was followed with a city tour on an open air double decker bus.  Everyone got a little wind and sun “kissed”.

We finished the day at ISAE/FGV with a lecture by Professor Marcelo Reis on Concepts and Principles as part of their “perspectivacao” (perspective in action), based on the principles of the United Nations for Global Compact, PRME and Sustainable Development. From this overview, students were tasked with identifying one innovative idea to sustainable development.  At the end of the session all students were presented with a Certificate of Completion for the Principles and Concepts Workshop.  We then had a coffee reception with current MBA students at FGV.  It was a full, action packed and rewarding day in Curitiba.

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May 7th, MBA China Study Tour 2013

“Our ride to the embassy today was filled with stories from Sean recounting of the treats and life-endangering tricks of last night´s acrobatic show.  While a few of us wished we could stop and shop at the “fireign pruducts” store, we arrived at the Canadian embassy right on time. For some of us, home sweet home!

Right after passing through guarded gates and metal detectors, we found ourselves in a building with french signs, traditional toilets (as opposed to holes on the floor) and an excessive amount of air conditioning.

The lectures were fantastic!  Plenty of ideas on how Canada could benefit from improved sino-canadian relations. We won´t share them here, however, since we personally plan to capitalize on their ideas for doing business in China.

Next up, lunch at another Chinese food restaurant – which did not have an operational air conditioner. Yet we still enjoyed a nice meal and discovered more about one another and our respective cultures. We discussed food from around the world and the most adventurous things we have eaten in the past. For those who are interested, horse is a delightful culinary experience whereas camel leaves a little to be desired.

The multicultural theme continued when traffic was light and we arrived early at GE Healthcare.  Professor Wong suggested that while waiting on the bus we sing some karaoke – and I kindly requested to be serenaded by the Canadian national anthem. We ended sharing the Canadian, French, Indian and Columbian anthems as well as a Pakistani cheer and the Chinese version of Frère Jacques (thank Lisa for that!).

Our talk at GE recounted the history of GE Healthcare in China.  Growth, again, not surprisingly is what is the forecast for moving forward: in the next three years they will double their engineering workforce and focus their marketing efforts on local customers. For growth, their strategy will also include sourcing hardware from local vendors. In brief one of the world’s largest and most global companies is now focused on localization.

We also got a tour of their production facilities, I was thrilled to find out that one of their most important products, an automated arm for medical procedures, was invented in France.

And now —> the Pearl Market, McDonald´s and BEERS!
This part will remain a mystery for those who aren´t here.  After all, what happens in China, stays in China! (Our money for example).

This blog was sent to me for posting by Marthe d’Andrea

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