March 16, 2010 - 12:00am
In January, four members of our International Business Plan team - Dawei Wu, Lars Stenberg Berg, Christine Chau and Sean Upton-McLaughlin - traveled to Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, China to present our strategic recommendations to a committee of over 70 local and regional government officials.
The Institute selected our team to research and design promotional strategies for the Zhejiang Technology Incubator, whose leaders envision establishing economic sustainability through high-tech innovation and industrialization. This would be the most important presentation of our professional lives thus far! Christine expressed our sense of anticipation, excitement and nervousness best when she said that it felt like an “out of body experience.”
Leading up to our trip, we planned to give the presentation in Chinese and English, with the assistance of an interpreter, to accommodate the language capabilities of both our team and audience. However, three days before our scheduled departure, we were thrown a curveball: the client wanted the presentation to be given all in Chinese! Dawei and Sean took the lead and worked diligently until our arrival in Shanghai.
But alas, the night before the presentation, we were thrown a second curveball: the client still wanted the presentation delivered in Chinese, but asked us to modify the content. After a day of traveling, we tried to pull an all-nighter, the last thing someone wants to do in this situation. One by one the team dropped like flies, but after three venti-sized Starbucks coffees, Dawei, the only native Chinese speaker, couldn’t sleep even if he wanted to!
The next day it was not possible for Dawei to deliver an entire modified presentation on his own due to the limited preparation time. Therefore, adapting to the circumstances, we decided to revert back to the Chinese and English format. Luckily, Mr. Yeatson Yan, Director of the Foreign Economic and Trade Bureau of Xiuzhou District, kindly volunteered to act as our interpreter.
The meeting, including questions and a follow-up discussion, lasted for approximately two hours. We were then treated to a traditional Chinese banquet lunch with at least 15 courses and both red and local wine flowing. Dozens of toasts or “ganbeis” later, we returned to our hotel rooms to freshen up before concluding our endless day with a tour of the Wu Zhen scenic area where houses literally sit on the water’s edge.