There’s No Doubting It: I Just Entered A Long-Term Relationship With China
By Shriyance Jain, BBA/BA ‘20
This post originally appeared on Shriy Jain’s Medium blog. It’s been republished here with permission. Portions of the original text have been edited for length. View the original post.
The Great Wall of China, Shanghai Tower, and Tencent Headquarters; An incredible journey that kicked off in the historical capital city of Beijing and concluded in the entrepreneurial and avant-garde city of Shenzhen has presented me with plenty of ‘food-for-thought’.
The cultural and professional immersion allowed me to comprehend the economic landscape, interact with local businessmen, and understand the breadth of opportunity available along coastal cities such as Shanghai.
My experience during the Michigan Ross Corporate Strategy in China program, has been nothing short of transformational. Through the engaging and informative excursions, I have undergone personal growth and been exposed to a nation that I never imagined I would one day explore: China.
The program kicked off in Beijing, with a corporate visit to the headquarters of DiDi Chuxing (the Chinese equivalent of Uber). At the time of my visit, the company was arranging for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
The private technology giant processes more than 70 TB of data per day, serves 450 million passengers, and boasts 7,000 employees, so I was excited to visit their headquarters for some much-needed insight. Though it is often described as an Uber copy-cat, DiDi is more than this confining description. Catering to the preferences of the local population and supplying a range of affordable transportation services has permitted DiDi to drive Uber out of China. Though it has won the battle in its homeland, fierce competition continues to evolve in several emerging markets such as Mexico and Brazil.
Nevertheless, I was most astonished by the emphasis on smart systems by several Chinese firms in a multitude of distinct industries. DiDi Lab’s, for example, was developing intelligent voice and database solutions to drastically improve customer service operations and reduce overhead costs at the ride-hailing firm. Tencent, the multinational conglomerate, is strategically implementing AI in all areas to drive the next wave of innovation. Moreover, Mobike, a bike-sharing platform, is also experimenting with artificial intelligence via its Magic Cube system to ‘effectively distribute bikes to areas of high usage’. The move to ameliorate urban mobility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only falls in line with a strong corporate social responsibility message, but is in the spirit of the ‘Made in China — 2025’ policy promoted by China’s leader, President Xi Jinping.
Our corporate visits not only laid the foundations in understanding the ongoing innovation alongside the populated coast, but also the culture and values that firms embody. I have been an avid fan of Jack Ma for a few years now, but I am convinced that the Alibaba presenter absolutely worshipped him. Throughout our presentation, it was evident that Ma, inspirational by all standards, had cultivated a powerful movement within the firm. In fact, on Ali Day in 2014, 102 couples were married in the presence of cleric-like Ma, the same number of years that the firm intends to stay in business for.
In spite of the enthusiasm, China’s tech firms do share some commonalities with U.S.-based firms. A lack of gender diversity and high attrition rate were visible during our visit to Tencent in Shenzhen, where male superiority in certain departments and a high employee turnover rate were briefly discussed.
In addition, with rising chronic health problems and an aging population, the biggest Chinese firms have been gearing up with investments in their own AI-based healthcare services. In similar fashion, U.S.-based Amazon has partnered with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to provide affordable healthcare services to their respective employees and to simplify the profitable industry. But I strongly believe that firms in the U.S. will face greater scrutiny around the gathering of healthcare records than Chinese-based firms, fundamentally due to socio-cultural differences and the regulatory environment.
Interacting with local Shanghainese high-school students through the planned family-dinners exhibited the non-corporate cultural aspect of China that I so desperately wanted to immerse myself in. Over the delicious meal, I learned more about our host’s livelihood, aspirations, and hobbies. Believe it or not, our taste in music was quite comparable! The dinner and complementary chats further indicated the importance of familial and community-oriented values in China, and in general, in Asia. I felt at ease and comfort within the vicinity of the apartment, as I was able to consume vegetarian food while learning more about my host family.
In situations in which I was not accompanied by a native-speaker on the trip, I faced serious dilemmas due to my dietary restrictions. Though vegetarian fast-food was readily available in the three cities, my options remained limited. The constant experience of searching for vegetarian restaurants or barely eating made me extremely grateful for the home-cooked meal and the continuous aid of our volunteers on the trip.
Throughout the trip, I had been astounded frequently. Whether I was gazing at the magnificent Forbidden City or listening to Shenzhen Financial Institute’s Dr. Wang, China continued to amaze me. Since 1978, when Deng Xiaoping introduced his economic reforms, China has transformed itself into a vibrant and fast-growing economy which is expected to overtake that of the U.S. within the next 15 years.
As Professor Jenne, our knowledgeable tour guide in Beijing, stated, “China’s advancement in the past 40-years is nothing but miraculous”.
I have fulfilled a dream of visiting a country I became curious about just 24 months ago. Even though I have barely scraped the surface, the companies, people, and lifestyle have convinced me to revisit in the near future. However, this time, I will be headed to the western parts of the country, to a China that is often overshadowed by the industrial, powerful, and rich east. My long-term professional and personal relationship with China has just started.
By Shriyance Jain
What was your summer internship experience like?
During the summer of 2018, I interned for 2 investment firms based in NYC and Singapore within the business development divisions. My primary focuses were building a deal sourcing pipeline, identifying potential middle-market acquisition targets, and analysing the practical use-cases of up-and-coming technologies such as blockchain in enterprise.
Are you involved with any student clubs?
I'm currently establishing Michigan PEVC, an undergraduate organization concentrating on the private equity and venture capital space. Additionally, I serve as a Ross Global Ambassador and partake in on-campus advisory services through the Capital Consulting Group (CCG).
What was the last thing you watched on Netflix? How was it?
The Batman Trilogy - Utterly brilliant!