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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Parallel universes meet

A former roommate of Shaw's from graduate school, David, was in Wuhan for two days from Shanghai and I had an opportunity to meet him. David joined us—Shaw, Bob and me—on our bus trip to the tailor's shop.

Paired up as seat mates, David and I began to compare notes. It's then we realized we lived in a parallel universe.

Since I knew he was there to meet with two supervisors at Wuhan University for feedback on his doctorate dissertation, I asked him what his doctorate would be in. His answer: management. How wild! That's exactly the program I will begin in May, so I shared this with him.

Intrigued with each other, we had quite a bit to discuss on the bus ride! I asked him what research he fielded for his dissertation. He had focused on technology and had conducted primary, qualitative research at a Chinese technology center. Intrigued, I told him I had come from technology.

His next question cleared up just what type of technology center this was with his question: "Do you know what SoC is? My immediate response: "System on Chip!" His eyes lit up and we both exploded into laugher. I explained the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry is where I had been in marketing for five years, so I was very familiar with chip, package and printed circuit board terminology and market issues. And, my most recent EDA employer had opened a technology training center in China a few years ago. Clearly we could talk each others' lingo on several levels.

So, David pulled his dissertation out and handed it to me, noting that the Executive Summary he had translated into English. Would I read it and provide feedback? Flattered, I said, "of course." I quickly read through the four pages.

His research was examining the management methodology used in the Chinese technology center, what theories he could apply, and then what issues he saw through this research that prevented them from being as successful as they could be. At the end of his Executive Summary I saw a fascinating statement that included several items for improvement, but two leapt off the page at me: growing Chinese entrepreneurship and better connections with foreign companies.

I told him on the entrepreneurship aspect I had seen a book just published through Harvard Business called "Made in China: What American Managers can learn From Trailblazing Chinese Entrepreneurs" written by an American and Chinese authors. It might be of interest to him. We exchanged business cards and promised to stay in touch, especially since my next China teaching trip may be to Shanghai, where he currently lives.

"It's a small world, after all."


At 6:36 PM, Skip said...

Have you met any Bankers on the Street, in Career Transition? Skip


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