Building Business Through Relationships – An IIM Shillong Student’s Experiences In China

IIM Shillong provides its PGPEX students with a unique flavour of China experience. In collaboration with Ocean University Of China (known in China as Zhōngguó Hǎiyáng Dàxué) & Fudan University, an enriching experience of how business is done in China is delivered to the students. Though we are currently in our first leg of this enriching experience, where we are going to spend 2 months in Ocean University Of China, Qingdao.

Before coming here, we were tutored in Mandarin and the whole batch appeared for the HSK-1 exam, which was put to test when we actually landed in China. When we all were gearing up for our new journey, we had loads of apprehensions thanks to our media which has filled our minds with lots of viewpoints about China. But when we embarked on the journey, our excitement levels were at its peak about the fact that we would be exploring new places, getting to know people and as all our seniors said – Don’t go with apprehensions; go with an open mind and explore.

So our 1st stop in China was Kunming, where we waited for 5 hours till we caught our next flight to our destination Qingdao. In Kunming, we realised that HSK-1 was just the talk and here, we had to walk the talk. Communication became really difficult as half of the food outlets in airport have employees who neither understand nor speak English. Mandarin classes, Pleco and Translation apps came to our aid and we could successfully order our food and paid for it. But what surprised me was the fact that Chinese people are so humble and helpful. They could understand that we are new to the place, new to the language and they did not even mock us.  Instead, they were diligently trying to help.

Then we reached our destination – Qingdao. It has mountains on one side and beautiful ocean on the other side. Our HSK test seemed never ending as every now and then, as we were trying to communicate, we were learning new words in the process and my belief was getting solidified that Chinese people are indeed helpful and humble, as well as patient, I would say.

We reached our college and the day was over for us that day. Next day, early morning, we went for a walk in our new campus which would be our abode for the next two months.

The day starts here very early. Everybody is at work early in the morning; it seems they follow this principle to the core – “Early to Bed Early to Rise makes a man healthy and wise”.

Nevertheless, the beautiful mountains visible from our dorm rooms are breath-taking. The campus is so big that in one day you can’t explore it, and OUC has 3 campuses here in Qingdao namely Fushan, Yushan and Laoshan. We have been hosted in the Laoshan Campus. Big Luxury School buses ferry between these three campuses and even inside the campus club car bus operates to help students to move inside the campus.

Everything here in campus is digitally done through WePay, Alipay or student IDs with RFID tags inside it. Whether it is washing machines, stores, bikes renting, food in canteens, fruits shop – you name the place and you have its presence there.

Apart from this, the campus is always bustling with energy and vigour. The people here are attentive to what the other person needs and they extend their helping hand which is overwhelming. People go out of their way to help others. Here in Laoshan campus, a mix of international students stay, so one gets to meet and interact with people from different countries and become friends.  In the past 2 weekends, I have visited a lot of places in Qingdao and every place is adding to the experience which will remain as an asset with me for the lifetime.

Being an MBA student, if I want to learn something from this place, it will be how to treat people as we know because of people, a business runs and because of the people employed, a business is successful.  Often, we have heard in the business world that most profits are due to the repeat business which the organization gets from the relationships which they have built along the path of growth and decline.

We might perceive and say that Chinese people do business differently but the truth is we also do business based on relationships and trusts on people. Be humble, be helpful , be there for people who need you then only people management will work. Often, we tend to ignore these facts and do not try to understand what our employees need and how we can help them.

After all, a happy employee is an asset to the company which will pay its dividends in due course.

Surabhi Dey

Surabhi Dey PGPEX(2018-2019) IIM Shillong