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Alexandre Rovai – American Brands in Taiwan and Thailand

I was impressed about the American brands in Taiwan and Thailand. The people over there love American brands. One company specifically was Seven Eleven. I never imagined that this company could be so big over there.

It is an American brand but with a Japanese concept. The Thai and Taiwan Seven Eleven only have the same name of the American company because the stores are completely different inside.7_11

In the Thai and Taiwan stores you can buy tickets for concerts, pay your bills, eat good food and find all the convenient things. They serve one of the best coffees over there and you can see one in every city block.

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Carl Pfeiffer – “Edu-tainment” at Kidzania

When arriving on this trip I didn’t think that I would be looking at any of the business visits as anything but from an educational and business perspective. However, when we arrived at Kidzania, it took me by surprise and instantly became a starry-eyed 10 year old boy the moment we were transported to the world of Kidzania.

The first thing we did was learn the business of this franchise, and thought the strategy they use to educate and entertain kids, while keeping the adults happy, and earn profit from each of the sponsors for the different job areas. It is pure genius. It was really hard for me to sit through the presentation because my mind was going back to when I was kid wishing that there were places like this to go and learn what I wanted to be. Thinking back I could have made some important life or job decisions sooner experiencing what it is like in the “real world” in a place like Kidzania.

Cohort 11 at Kidzania, Thailand

Cohort 11 at Kidzania, Thailand

Once the initial shock subsided I was able to see what an new and interactive “edu-tainment” opportunity this is as we walked through and saw kids faces learning and playing in this little world. Living in Disney’s backyard I can honestly say this blows any of the Disney parks out of the water, strictly from interaction element and learning piece. When we were there the children seemed so engaged and passionate about the jobs they were in and I know that is hard for children to stay that focused and passionate about something. The model is absolutely brilliant, everything from the job offerings for the children, to the accommodations for the adults, to the  security features that doesn’t allow a child to leave without the parental guardian they came in with. The kids not only learn job skills, but they have to learn how to manage money and a bank account while they earn little paychecks in every job. The money they earn they can actually budget and spend it in real stores that sell merchandise and snacks.

Looking at it from a business perspective I was shocked to hear why there wasn’t one in the US already, and that is because the company wanted to build a strong global brand equity first before trying to enter the US market, but they have just broke ground on a location in Chicago expected to be finished by 2015. Another thing I thought was a brilliant business move is that fact that 25 million is the cost to build and create the shell for the business, and then they generate income from their sponsors like Coca-Cola that have to pay about $625,000 for a 5 year contract with a monthly retainer to showcase their product in Kidzania, and is a win win for the business and the sponsors. Kidzania generates revenue from the sponsors and also has a unique real world company that the kids can act like they are working for, and the sponsor is getting valuable advertising time to test new products and use as research facility with a captive target audience.


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Carl Pfeiffer – Medical Tourism

This Bumrumgrad hospital in Bangkok, Thailand is revolutionizing the world of medical tourism. This hospital is a for profit, “5 star hospital” that specializes in nearly every single medical and healthcare specialty. With the effects of globalization it allows patients around the world to “outsource their own healthcare”. Basically this concept means that if someone has an ailment they need worked on they have a choice to go to any medical tourism facility (like Bumrumgrad) to have world-class treatment. In order for medical tourism facilities to earn the international patient’s business they need to provide not only the best healthcare, but also treat each person with the same treatment as a 5 star hotel would do. This facility is mostly for “at will” patients who specifically seek out medical care from this facility. The depreciated Thai Baht makes medical procedures so much more affordable that people come to Bumrumgrad and pay cash to have procedures done, from plastic surgery, to orthopedic surgery, to general surgery.hospital suite_1

Part of the amazing guest service experience the hospital has, is that it provides world-class concierge services that starts by picking up the patient from the airport, and escorts them to the hospital. The concierge also waits hand and foot on the patient, catering their every need. Even things like running their prescriptions and finding activities and accommodations for friends and family that are staying with the patient.hospital_3

In the US the reason medical care is so costly is because the expenses that providers and medical companies have to pay are estimated to be $600 billion dollars a year. This cost is covered because it is passed on to the patients and insurance providers. So a standard surgical procedure like a cholecystectomy, plus a night or two in the hospital will cost between $15,000- $30,000 in the USA. Compared to Thailand where the patient can have the same procedure, and stay in one of the nice hospital suites (which looks more like a hotel room then a hospital room) for around $2,000-$3,000 US dollars.  This is also explaining that the quality of care is almost the same between Thailand and the USA.

Bumrungrad was the first Asian hospital accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of the organization that reviews and accredits American hospitals. Their checklist includes over 350 standards, for everything from surgical hygiene and anesthesia procedures to the systems in place to credential medical staff and nurses. JCI sends a team to re-review hospitals at 3-year intervals. Bumrungrad was first accredited in 2002, re-accredited in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. So when I questioned the quality of care and patient outcomes I was quickly educated that the have almost the same level of quality that we do in the US. This is in part do to most of the doctors were educated and trained in the US and have come back to Thailand to give the US level of care to their patients.

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On top of the world

Nelya Khayut – On top of the world

Riding the fastest elevator… eating the best dumplings… witnessing the largest damper sphere in the world… You have to be there to believe it. One thousand and ten meters per minute! I arrived on the 89th floor in 34 seconds. Upon getting to the top, the observatory deck allowed for some great pictures.  Nelya_6

This building is an icon of this country and used to at one point be known as the tallest building in the world. Its architecture is a symbol of evolution. Symbolism and culture are a huge deal in this country and the people take it very seriously. Colors represent “connection” and “new beginnings” and the Taipei 101 building has a torch at the top of the building that glows one of seven different colors every night. The colors represent the different days of the week, so for example on Friday the torch will be blue, on Saturday it will be violet, etc.Nelya_4

I might have been oblivious to knowing what makes this type of building stay up through all of the storms that this country faces. It wasn’t until we were told we were about to go see the “pendulum” that it hit me. Typhoon winds and earthquake tremors are common in this country and so how can this building stay standing?! It never dawned on me to think about this until that very moment. Seeing this massive ball was absolutely amazing.

The best dumplings in the world are also cooked in this magnificent building. If you ever visit Taiwan, Din Tai Fung Restaurant is a must have. It is an award winning restaurant that is known for their Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings.) The thin dough, the meat inside, and the broth are a perfect balance of what a dumpling should taste like.

Din Tai Fung Restaurant, Taipei

Din Tai Fung Restaurant, Taipei

Don’t worry… if you have never had a dumpling like this… there are instructions that set you up for success! These instructions are waiting for you at your table.

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Nelya Khayut – Slum Child Care Foundation

One of our visits in Thailand was the Slum Child Care Foundation. Upon arriving in the neighborhood where this Foundation is located, I was overcome with extreme emotion. I was able to hear the child laughter, cries, and screams from the building and it did not sound like just a couple of children but quite a large amount.

Upon going inside (after taking our shoes off) and looking around, I was blown away by how well these children were taken care of. Several workers and volunteers cared for these children like they were their own. It was genuine, kind, and sincere. The staff as well as the children welcomed us with open arms and respect. The children wanted someone to return that love and kindness by hugging them back, holding them, and playing with them.   Nelya_1

Children in that care facility stay there as young as 3 months old. It was heart breaking but at the same time heart warming knowing that at least these children have someone to feed them, change them, baby them. They are off the street and have a chance at a good future. The children are taught manners, patience, thoughtfulness, and everything else that should be learned at a young age.Nelya_3

Working for The Walt Disney World Company, I am fortunate to interact with many different cultures around the world. I have been able to interact with many people of Asian decent but this trip has been a completely different experience. The level of compassion and kind-heartedness was not what I expected. This particular business truly shows the amount of hospitality that the people from Thailand are used to giving. We were complete strangers in a building… but were able to feel the level of friendliness and cordiality even from children at a young age.




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 Tamara Clay – My most memorable moments

If you ask me, the food was one of the most memorable aspects of the trip.

We went to some very special places and tried some amazing new dishes. At various points throughout the trip I believe each of us where pushed to the edge of our culinary comfort zones. The experience was interesting, nourishing and allowed us to open our minds.1BK_Tamara

Even staples were presented in different ways based on local tastes and local culture. Take rice for example. In the rice is mainly served steamed with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a pat of butter. While in each country we visited rice could be found served steamed to accompany a meal, in Tokyo it was gently laced with vinegar and wrapped around fresh raw fish. In Bangkok it was served sweet and sticky on top of ice cream or with slices of ripe mango with fresh cream. In Taiwan it was stir-fried with egg and dried shrimp.

Fish McBites in Thailand

Fish McBites in Thailand

In Asia fish is abundant while beef is rare. Because of this food restaurants like McDonald’s have added more fish to the menu. In Thailand we learned that the McFish is the number one selling sandwich. This is why McDonald’s in Thailand recently added Fish Balls to the menu as a special item to celebrate the World Cup. (I had a chance to try them and they were pretty good.)

In each country we visited we were treated to a welcome meal, which introduced us to the local flavors, and a farewell meal. No matter where you are in the world, there is nothing better than sharing delicious food with great people.

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Tamara Clay -The Practice of Business

I have been a working professional in the United States for the past 18 years. I’ve learned the rules of business etiquette and I know my way around corporate politics. As a business attorney, I now rely on that experience to assist my clients with legal strategy as they grow their own companies.

However, there was one thing I was not familiar with…International business. As the world becomes smaller and companies become more global, I knew that this was something with which I needed to familiarize myself. I falsely presumed that business practices were fairly similar around the world.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although globalization and technology have made it easier than ever before to expand a company beyond the borders of the US, there remains the barrier of culture. A company cannot be successful if the corporate leadership is not well versed in how business is practiced in the foreign country it hopes to conduct business within. Even multi-million dollar companies have learned this lesson the hard way.

It was for this reason that I was so excited about the Stetson Executive MBA International Study Program. The International Field Experience took us to Taiwan, Taipei and Bangkok,Thailand. I extended my trip with some Cohort 11 members and spent a few days in Tokyo, Japan. Through our multiple company visits I was able to witness first-hand, how different business practices in Asia are from business practices in the United States. thai-lawI was able to ask questions of senior level executives of major major corporations regarding the practice of business and law in their respective industries. I received valuable key information which I plan to integrate into my legal practice immediately. Thanks to this program I am a better lawyer.

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Arden Tilghman – Who We Are is About Who We Were

While driving into Taipei, we had the opportunity to see several sections of
the city. We drove through the outskirts of the city with more
rural/manufacturing districts, by apartments and housing for those who commute
into Taipei but live outside the city limits, near the River parks where biking
and other outdoor recreation is centered, and finally into the heart of the city
where commerce and daily life buzz 24/7. Through this transition from one
district to the next, the most noticeable difference to my American eyes, was
the extensive farming and gardening everywhere, in every district. From plots of
land the high rise balconies overflowing with greenery, farming and gardening
was clearly a large part of daily life for most Taiwanese.

Agriculture in Taiwaan

Agriculture in Taiwaan

The significance of farming arose for the developing nation of Taiwan after World War Two.
Through the turmoil and lack of consistency in prior years, Taiwan was able to bounce back as a
stable nation, and global player, because of its strong agricultural capabilities. Now, in the
center of one of the most technologically innovative nations in the world,
everyone gardens and grows some of their own food. Fresh food is bought daily
from a local market, or collected from ones own garden. The values, daily
activities, health of diet, and eating habits are highly influenced by the roots
of this agriculturally based country.
How the Taiwanese live, eat, and interact was developed, in part, by their survival as a
nation and their reliance on agriculture ventures of the past. It makes me
wonder what other aspects of their daily life are driven so strongly by who they
were? What other insights can be gained by studying their history. The
realization of the importance of truly studying and understanding a cultures’
past and present in order to truly understand their culture, or do business
with, was evident when looking at the farms and gardens of this highly developed
and sophisticated society.

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Arden Tilghman-  The Journey: Traveling is Way Better with Friends 

We are an hour an eighteen minutes from
landing in Tokyo, where we will have one more leg of our journey- a three hour
flight before arriving in Taipei. Although I’m a little stiff, and ready to get
off the plane, this 12.5 hour trip wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated. After
a short nap, watching a tv show or two, and meal service, several members of
Cohort 11 gathered in the aisles and hallways of the plane. We passed a few
hours by following that cycle. Watch a movie, have a drink, eat a snack, get up
and socialize….repeat.
Before I knew it, we had  just two hours left, and breakfast was being served.
They told us we would get closer as a group during this trip, and they were right.
Leaving a familiar environment, where the daily worries don’t exist (or at least you
can’t do anything about them), sets the stage for a really good time. Even at the
beginning of our journey, I am understanding the benefit of many minds and many
faces for international travel and business. Leaving the familiar world, where
reliance on the team isn’t an option, but an effortless necessity, is an
interesting thought to ponder when considering engaging in international
business ventures. Tired and excited, the team is almost in Asia.

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Cinthia Douglas – Experiencing New Cultures

Our international trip was actually an EMBA course that included a pretty extensive amount of work, including preparation of cultural nuances prior to our travels.  It is one thing to study a subject, but it’s quite incredible to actually live it.  Here are a few of my most fun and memorable moments that really showed me the cultural nuances of SE Asia:

1. Our first night in Taipei, Taiwan, we had a big welcome dinner at a traditional Chinese restaurant in Taipei.  Chinese culture teaches people to “save face” where face is described as your reputation, your honor, and people aim to behave in ways that build up their reputation and honor.  During our lovely dinner, we had a nice server that accidentally overfilled a glass of beer, and the foam spilled over.  Several folks on our table clapped, well clapping was not enough for me – you see, being a native Brazilian, beer rules and messing up of any kind is reason to celebrate, so I shouted out a big “Woo Hoo!”  Our waitress bowed her head, apologized and right away left our table – off-course probably feeling very badly, having not “saved face” with our table.  When she returned, she apologized and bowed again, and our table quickly recovered by assuring her it was ok.

Having dumplings in Taiwan

Having dumplings in Taiwan

2. Pork, pork plus more pork!  As it turns out, Taiwan imports very little beef and chicken is also not a common protein so pork is everywhere.  We learned from the American Institute there is a strong push from the pork business in Taiwan with strong political influence affecting the importation of beef.  Almost every single one of our meals involved pork – chopped pork over rice, pork dumplings, pork soup – an endless supply of all types of cooked pork.  Having a lack of variety was an interesting cultural change.

3. Thailand showed me gentleness and kindness at its deepest level.  In all they do, from raising children to having a disagreement on the street, being gentle and kind is an integral part of the Thai culture and it is evident among all social economic levels.   As I compare with the US culture and how deeply we value competition – we play to win, second place is the first looser, and so on… sure, there are benefits to having a strong drive but I realized how meaningful it is to hold gentleness and kindness as core values.

4. Doing business in Thailand, even for big brands such as McDonalds, means using very little legal advice and services.  The power of building and fostering a relationship with your business partner is the most important.  Even if contracts are written up, they have little repercussions with the actual government.  Culturally, this is drastically different than doing business in the US and probably would make business investors very uncomfortable.

In all, there are many cultural nuances I experienced during our trip to trip to SE Asia , from funny faux-pas to lack of legal involvement, there is no comparison to the power of learning from a real experience.

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