When Cameron Javdani, M.B.A. '07, was visiting the Forbidden City outside Beijing as part of a trip organized for Warsaw Sports Marketing Center students through the Engaging China initiative (a collaboration between the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business and Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (see related story above), he was surprised to see several people carrying Starbucks cups. To him, it was bit strange to encounter the U.S. coffee icon in a place steeped in Chinese culture.
"Encountering a huge American conglomerate in the middle of an icon of Chinese history is not something you expect," said Javdani. "But it really struck me that there is a tremendous upside. It speaks to the evolving culture and business environment in China, and it shows that U.S. companies have a long-term commitment to engage and invest in the Chinese market to the benefit of people in the East and the West."
Javdani's experience was just one of dozens of business and cultural encounters for the nineteen M.B.A. students. "The trip was fascinating," added Kirsten Eckelmeyer, M.B.A. '07. "Going to China as part of my M.B.A. education was a fabulous surprise. It opened my eyes to the variety of opportunities available in sports business throughout the world."
Her excitement was representative of the infectious energy students brought back with them from China as they shared stories from the trip. And although students expressed their enthusiasm for many different aspects of the trip--from touring a high-tech garment factory to meeting with the Chinese Olympic Committee and companies pursuing sports marketing strategies in China--they universally agreed that some of the most impactful experiences were cultural. For instance, Eckelmeyer couldn't believe she was standing on the Great Wall of China. Javdani felt a deep connection to history in Tiananmen Square. And others said that Shanghai was like visiting a city 50 years in the future.
"All in all, it was a fantastic experience that balanced the cultural and business aspects very well," summarized Javdani. "It really drilled home the importance of having both sets of knowledge in order to do business in China with any degree of success. And I'm excited to continue to share and expand on the knowledge I gained from the experience as I work