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Students get glimpse of global market in China

By Samah Assad
On March 24, 2014

  • Students gather at a presentation at Huawei, a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company headquartered in Shenzhen, China during their spring break trip (top). Students burn scented sticks for good fortune and a successful graduation from CSU at Lantau Island, the largest island in Hong Kong (bottom). Photos courtesy Birsen Karpak
  • Students gather at a presentation at Huawei, a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company headquartered in Shenzhen, China during their spring break trip (top). Students burn scented sticks for good fortune and a successful graduation from CSU at Lantau Island, the largest island in Hong Kong (bottom). Photos courtesy Birsen Karpak

 As the global economy increasingly becomes a competitive, technology-driven market, those part of the supply chain field are searching for ways to bring this international expertise from other nations over to the U.S., allowing American businesses to learn from these practices.
 A group of Cleveland State University business students did just that recently during spring break.
From March 7-16, 31 students studying Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSCM) traveled to China as part of the department's yearly supply chain tours to Asia that began in 2010. Supply chain involves improving the quality of production and services of companies, including sourcing and warehousing management, in a global setting.
Oya Tukel and Jen-Yi Chen, OSCM professors at CSU, led a group of master's and undergraduate students of business. Youngstown State University Management professor Birsen Karpak, along with five YSU students, also accompanied the group.
Tukel said the department decided to visit China due to the country's growing emphasis on supply chain. Because China is renowned for its technological and competitive businesses, she added, the department believed visiting China would be a perfect opportunity for students to experience global production firsthand.
"If you want to go see a facility with state-of-the-art technology and manufacturing, you go to China," Tukel said.
During their nine-day trip, the group traveled to cities home to many companies highly focused on innovation and research and development (RND), including Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. This year, they added a new element to the mix - the study of smartphone creation.
"We decided to study the supply chain network of smartphones, which everybody carries with them all the time, but they don't know what's inside of them," Tukel said.
The group visited 10 companies that produce smartphone microphones and circuit boards, and had the opportunity to witness manufacturers assemble the phones and their components firsthand.
Joe Vargo, a senior Business student who went on the trip, said being able to watch this production was a life-changing experience and since then, he hasn't looked at his smartphone the same.
"I don't think a lot of students get the opportunity to walk into a factory or a production line at all," Vargo said. "Seeing it made it all a little more clear as to what's going on and where it all comes from."
Tukel added because Asia's sale volume is higher than that of the U.S., students were able to learn about China's competitive work environment. She noted when the companies held presentations during each visit, there was a recurring theme within each lecture: competitive ranking and comparison of China's product development compared to other countries.
Tukel noted the U.S. must understand its place in manufacturing technology, which is increasingly shifting to Asia because the U.S. is more involved in buying and selling rather than development.
"In Asia, they always like to find out where they stand," she said. "We wanted to focus on a better understanding of global competitiveness, but also understanding where we are, our brands, our companies compared to all of these companies that are coming from emerging markets."
Tukel explained contrary to some perceptions and stereotypes, China commits 15-20 percent of its revenue to RND, driving the creation of an evolving, competitive environment.
"They're not the sweatshops of the world anymore," she said. "These cities we visited - none of us thought they would be where they are in terms of the sophistication of the technologies they develop."
Vargo agreed the trip wasn't what he initially assumed it would be like.
"I think my expectations were shattered," Vargo said. "People associate manufacturing in China with knick knacks and cheap stuff, but it was not like that at all - it was high tech and advanced."
Dominic Jurcisek-Ortolani, a junior Business student on the trip, said one of his favorite parts about the visit was how the country incorporates thousands of years of traditions into their modern growth plans.
"They have their old ancient styles, and it's really neat to see how they're still keeping up with that, but they're still building up," he said.
Jurcisek-Ortolani believes he'll be able to carry over the experiences and knowledge he gained to his classes and possibly a future job in the Asian market.
"Right now in some of my classes, we're talking about how business is done differently around the world and how China is the largest growing economy in the world," he said. "It's crazy to see firsthand how they're preparing for the future and building cities while leading supply chain management."
 


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