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Emerging Southern California business leaders learn about the changing face of global business as part of the UCR EMBA cohort's international residential trip.

(August 11, 2010)

The undergraduate business program staff.
The UCR EMBA cohort at the offices of Kirkland & Ellis in Shanghai, China.

Gone are the days when low-cost manufacturing defined the Chinese marketplace. In the changing landscape of China, cheap labor is out and innovation and the development of stronger consumer economies are in. And local business professionals from Southern California are taking note. 

Discoveries like these are what the University of California, Riverside's Executive MBA Program sought to encourage in its charter class during a recent week-long residential retreat in Shanghai. The intent of the trip, which serves as a capstone to the first year of the program, is to allow students to learn first-hand about current global economic culture. 

"The Anderson School is located at the hub of the global economy with almost half of the U.S. trade with the world flowing through the region," said David W. Stewart, dean of the UCR School of Business Administration. "It is very important that our students understand the importance of such trade, and there is no substitute for seeing trading partners up close."

From June 18 to 27, the ten Southern California business professionals that make up the UCR EMBA Program cohort visited with executives at top companies in Shanghai, such as Asia Pacific Properties, Coca Cola, GM, Google, Kirkland & Ellis, Lehman Brown, and YUM! Brands. The experience exposed the students to a competitive Chinese marketplace that challenged their preconceptions of China from both a business and cultural perspective.

"It's been a tremendously enlightening experience," said Brian Rojas of Palm Desert, a project manager at CastleRock Builders who is part of the EMBA class. "I was amazed at how modernized China has become. Especially in Shanghai where a profound Western influence can be seen from the architecture of the skyscrapers and shopping malls to the clothing."

The undergraduate business program staff.
EMBA student Michael Castillo visits the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

This is the kind of eye-opening moment that Jack Gregg, director of executive programs for the UCR School of Business Administration, had expected from the students. "Traveling to another country is a process of challenging your long-standing assumptions about how the world--and how business--works," he said. "Every day there was one more example of how things are both similar and different in China. From legal issues to business ethics to cultural tradition there was a perceptible gap that needed careful navigation."

Closer examination led Rojas to a renewed understanding of the way business functions. "Business is not the same in every country," he said. "The most interesting discussions we had was how companies handle cultural differences when it comes to developing business partnerships with China." 

EMBA student Jesus Gaytan of Whittier, who is a director of interface portfolio management at Yahoo!, also came to the same conclusion. During a slideshow presentation at the Coca Cola corporate offices, he realized the importance of how China defined boundaries. "Coke doesn't consider China a country but many independent regions. At that moment something began to dawn on me," he said. "In terms of economics, the notion that we need to be flexible with definitions became evident. Our economic analysis for China probably needs to be categorized in a way that resembles Coke's view of China as many regions."

By sending the cohort's emerging business leaders home with a new and enlightened understanding of the global economy, the UCR EMBA Program seeks to indirectly benefit regional economic development. "I must say that I think the EMBA program has been of great value," Gaytan said. "Combining lectures, readings, meetings with speakers, and being in China was very instrumental in really allowing me to absorb and synthesize the material. Being immersed in the place of discussion ensured that the context and object of discovery was constantly in our consciousness."

The UCR School of Business Administration is the flagship business school in Inland Southern California, the first professional school of its kind in the region, and the only one at a research-based institution.

  • For more information about the UCR Executive MBA Program, please contact Celeste Townsend.

News Contact:
Mark Manalang
Electronic Communications Manager
mark.manalang@ucr.edu



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