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Student Experience

Transformative Experiences in China and Hong Kong

Wisconsin Full-Time MBA marketing students gain a global perspective on business

By Paul Smirl

April 12, 2019

Map of China

Thirty students from the Wisconsin Full-Time MBA Program’s Brand and Product Management and Marketing Research specializations visited China and Hong Kong during winter break.

They met with executives at companies like Kellogg’s, The Nielsen Company, 3M, and Proctor & Gamble. They visited the Hong Kong stock exchange and the U.S. Consulate in Beijing, and had the perspective-changing experience of being consumers in China and Hong Kong.

The trip was a prime example of the Wisconsin Full-Time MBA’s global reach and experiential learning opportunities. Students had the chance to expand their networks, see business from a cross-cultural perspective, and learn from top leaders shaping worldwide business.

We asked first-year student Bailey Hackbarth and second-year student Rodrigo Stabio about their favorite experiences during the trip as well as the biggest lessons they learned about business in China and Hong Kong.

Bailey Hackbarth (MBA ’20) – Brand and Product Management Specialization 

Traveling via bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai in just over four hours was truly astounding. From the futuristic rail terminals to the delicious in-car meal service, China certainly leads the U.S. in adoption of this transportation technology.

The biggest business lesson I learned was that the Chinese consumer is hungry for innovation, and brands that fail to adapt early and often will be left behind. Being relevant in China means consistently pushing the envelope to create a better end-user experience, from two-hour delivery to seamless payments to driving engagement on social media—all while under the watchful eye of the state government.

Rodrigo Stabio (MBA ’19) – Marketing Research Specialization

One experience that comes to mind is how much closer I was able to get with my classmates. We had a lot of different experiences that brought us closer together. Some of us have been in classes together for almost two years, so it was nice to take some of these friendships that were formed in Madison and strengthen them through a trip to China.

China is a very diverse country in terms of economies. Some parts of China are so far ahead of the U.S.—people pay with QR code through WeChat; not many people carry cash or cards with them; and if you order something before noon, you expect it to be delivered by the time you get home.

Yet, other parts of the country, where millions live, are less developed. It’s absolutely mind boggling, and companies seem to have different go-to market strategies depending on what tier or city they are talking about. Also, when it comes to online marketing, Mainland China has to use a very different strategy than the U.S. as Google and Facebook are prohibited by the government.