Femba blog single

FEMBA Blog single

China Spring Break 2015

Well this is impossible, but I like impossible: How do I sum up my UCLA Anderson Global Immersion experience last week, traveling with faculty and students in China and Hong Kong? Let me try.

Over 150 UCLA Anderson MBAs from all programs—FEMBA, MBA, EMBA & GEMBA as well as some alumni and SigOs—participated four different Global Immersions over Spring Break: China, Hong Kong, Japan and Peru. No school travels like UCLA Anderson!

  1. Professor Leslie taught in Central China (Chengdu and Chongqing)
  2. Professor Sakakibara taught in Japan
  3. Professor Freixes taught in Hong Kong
  4. Professor Terech taught in Peru

Dean Judy Olian talks about UCLA Anderson students having “global brains” and what better way to cross-train ones global brain than by participating in a Global Immersion? Some lessons must be learned “on the street”.

Strategy Professor Phillip Leslie chose Central China to “get off the beaten path” and therefore chose Chengdu and Chongqing for the course.

Were we off the beaten path? Since many of the industry leaders and government ambassadors said to us–Thank you so much for coming. We never get visitors out here.We felt like bold explorers. Chengdu is a city of over 15 million and the greater Chongqing municipality is close to 29 million, making it China’s (and maybe the world’s) largest mega city. Below is the Chongqing skyline (from Wikipedia).

20150402 842px-SkylineOfChongqing from Wikipedia

DAY ZERO  Friday/Saturday  The plane rides over

I departed Los Angeles at 12:05 AM, Thursday night/Friday morning, arriving in Chengdu at 2:00 PM Saturday afternoon. Three flights and about 24 hours of travel time. Of course, I was flying my UCLA Anderson colors…

20150402 Start of China trip LAX

Even before we left, I got a little nostalgic for Los Angeles as I read this quote from Frank Lloyd Wright in the international terminal:

20150402 Start of China trip LAX quote from Frank Lloyd Wright

I’ve lived in Germany for three years while working for Siemens; I’ve studied for a semester each in Mexico and Spain; In 2010, I went on the UCLA Global Immersion to India: Mumbai, New Dehli and Kerala; But this was my first time to China…

Slightly bleary-eyed from the flight, I was impressed by the size of Chengdu, even the entry on the highway was massive, and under construction:

20150402 Start of China trip Chengdu gate

The scale of everything is hard to capture in a single photograph. These apartment clusters are tall, dense and everywhere.

20150402 Start of China trip aparment buildings

UCLA Anderson FEMBA alum Sameer Karim 2010 lives and works in China, along with his wife. Sameer and I go way back. He was an excellent Open House panelist while he was in FEMBA. Since he’s lived in China, he has helped deliver about seven Global Immersion courses.

20150402 Sameer and me in Subway car
First subway ride in Chengdu, with Sameer Karim ’10

In the subway in Chengdu, what do we see on the wall, but a photo of Santa Monica/Malibu, “taken with an iPhone 6”.

20150402 Sameer and me in Subway
This is the “taken with and iPhone 6” campaign, and of course, sunset over Malibu as seen from the Palisades Park in Santa Monica. Dylan Stafford and Sameer Karim FEMBA 2010



Sunday was awesome. Everyone met for breakfast and then headed out. On the bus, Professor Phillip Leslie facilitated a “learning values” conversation, having the class establish the type of ambassadors we were going to be and how we were going to engage with all the companies we would visit.

20150402 Professor Phillip Leslie on bus
Professor Phillip Leslie leading a learning-norms conversation en route to the Panda Base.

We were headed to the Chengdu Panda Base, a research and breeding center dedicated to keeping the species alive. It was Sunday morning early, and we had no idea how active the pandas were going to be. We were in for a treat!

20150402 Panda Base One

Watch (and listen to the student commentary) of these beautiful baby pandas!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4leemOIiiXw]

20150402 Panda Base Two
“Look ma! No hands!”

Upon my return to Los Angeles, of course the panda gifts were the favorite with my sons.

20150402 Panda Base three  My Pandas

We learned about the challenges to successfully breed pandas and the team of researchers who’ve dedicated their lives to the effort. We also learned about the origins of “Panda Diplomacy” as practiced by the Chinese government.

20150402 Panda Base three pandas

F-E-M-B… Where’s the “A”? I take full responsibility for cutting off the “A” of FEMBA. Seen here, left to right are Michael Okayo 15, Sathish Janjam 16, Peter Kuck 16, Emily Duan 15, Christian Lee 16 and Karthik Jayaraman 16.

20150402 Panda Base four F-E-M-B-A Michael Okayo 15 Sathish Janjam 16 Peter Kuck 16 Emily Duan 15 Christian Lee 16 and Karthik Jayaraman 16

Here’s our full Global Immersion course: Central China 2015, taught by Professor Phillip Leslie, at the Panda Base in Chengdu.

20150402 Panda Base full group photo

After the Pandas enjoyed lunch and wandering at Jingli old street. I’m enjoying a delicious smoked fish, and that’s Peter Kuck ’16 on my left.

20150402 Jingli old street smoked fish with Peter Kuck 16

Going into Jingli old street. Next to me with Professor Carla Hayn, Kristen Palchak 16 and Paula Major 16. Paula, due to being blonde, was photo-bombed by the local Chendu citizens all day long.

20150402 Jingli old street Carla Hayn Kristen Palchak 16 Paula Major 16

From Jingli, we next visted the People’s Park. We witnessed a local custom: parent’s display resumes of their marriage eligible sons and daughters (the papers on the ground). People walk and review the candidates and marriages get created in this way. (In the photo, l-r: Jeff Nah GEMBA 15 with coffee cup, Peter Kuck 16, Emily Duan 15 and George Tharakan MBA alum)

20150402 Peoples Park resumes

Here was my “when in Rome” moment, when I enjoyed a cup of tea and then a refreshing “ear cleaning” which was a specialty in Chengdu. Can’t you tell I’m enjoying this cultural moment?

20150403 Ear clean me in peoples park in Chengdu China

I probably would have skipped the ear cleaning, but Sameer told me his wife recommended the experience. Here you see Sameer, with his wife Jade watching, and Professor Leslie getting ready for a photograph.

20150403 Ear clean Sameer Phillip Leslie  in peoples park in Chengdu China

And here is video of Sameer, going first.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-olIBylGb-I&w=853&h=480]


Well, those are some highlights from the start of the week. My future posts will tell about million dollar artwork, my first UBER ride (in Chengdu) and our visit to the world’s oldest distillery (which of course has a UCLA Alum as CEO!). Thanks for reading.



About the MBA Insider Blog

The UCLA Anderson MBA Insider’s Blog offers an inside perspective on topics relevant to prospective MBA students and others interested in learning about UCLA Anderson’s world-class MBA program, faculty and curriculum. The blog is managed by members of the full-time MBA program’s Admissions Committee, with posts by our Admissions staff, students, alumni and guests.