Winter Term 2013: Singapore/Vietnam – January 18, 2013

Friday was the final day of our business visits. It came with both bitter and sweet feelings as we made our way to see UPS (United Parcel Service) in Singapore. We knew that we would soon be traveling home to see our families but we also knew that it meant parting from the group that had learned and grown together as friends and colleagues during the days spent abroad.

Our visit to UPS consisted of an in-depth exploration into how shipments are transported around the world. We were able to experience how a sorting facility receives, sorts, and transports packages that arrive at the facility. Following the visit to the sorting and holding facility, we made our way into a conference room where a UPS representative went over the strategies that have helped UPS become a global leader. We all have an entirely new view of, “what brown can do for you.”

I believe I speak for everyone when I say that the trip was a tremendous experience that we will never forget. I urge anyone who can take advantage of this opportunity to do so. Upon reflecting on my previous viewpoints regarding international business opportunities, I am highly disappointed in how closed minded I was before this trip. Even with my sister being an ex-pat in Hong Kong, I had no intentions of considering becoming an ex-pat myself. Going forward I will not only be open to this possibility, but I will be keeping a look out for opportunities to work in one of these countries.

Over the course of the trip we were able to learn about two business cultures that are relatively polar opposites. However, the major takeaway for me was the embracing of entrepreneurship in both Singapore and Vietnam. For example, the government of Singapore will do whatever it can to facilitate the the launching of new business ventures if they feel that the business will have a positive impact on Singapore’s economy. This method is sometimes seen in the United States but the reach is far less broad and is usually tied into ecological or political efforts. Vietnam is actually on the other end of the scale when it comes to providing government assistance to new ventures. However, it is a common theme that members of this culture work their entire lives for hopes of one day opening up their own store in front of their house. This was often referred to as their “retirement plan.”

My only disappointment is that I will not be able to take the International Business class again. I would like to thank each member of the faculty and administration at Elon University who had a part in making this trip an unforgettable experience for all of us.

Written by: John Watlington

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