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Three truths of a co-op student doing business in China

Christian Blott shares on his recent co-op experience with Rainmaker Global Business Development:

On June 26th I travelled to Xiamen, China, a coastal city in southeast China of the Fujian province as part of my co-op experience with Rainmaker Global Business Development. I travelled there with two other employees of Rainmaker - Tulio Conejeros, VP of Business Development and Emily Turner, Market Research Analyst and Team Lead for this client.

Rainmaker GBD is a consulting firm that specializes in international market entry strategies. We do this through a combination of quantitative market research, as well as qualitative insight from industry contacts and through the preparation of an overview report. From there we move into the next phase which is designing an entry strategy.

This current Chinese client is a multi million-dollar manufacturer of heavy duty equipment with over 3000 employees. Currently, they are focused on bringing wheel loaders and excavators into the Canadian market. I have been spending a vast majority of my time working on this project since starting my co-op term in January with Rainmaker.

My VP told me that I would be going to China about a week and a half before we left. I was going because of my understanding of distribution strategies, equipment dealerships, equipment pricing, and equipment specifications. The Chinese R&D team had come during May to Canada to see the equipment market in Canada. This allowed me to build a solid relationship with them and was a key reason why my VP decided I should get on the flight with them to Xiamen.

Over the course of three days we presented 5 separate presentations to their President, Vice president and numerous other executives. I took the lead on three of these presentations including Distribution Strategy, Pricing Analysis, and Specification Analysis. The PowerPoint slides were in Mandarin on the screen and we had a translator. I would present a few lines of information, and allow for it to be translated as well as answering questions to allow for transparency and understanding.

Three things I learned on this trip.

1. International business is about relationships and trust. Every culture is different and has different ways of conducting business. Trust is critical when doing business in China and relationship building is key for a successful business venture. You can learn a lot of about the objective aspects of other cultures in the classroom, but it comes down to your emotional intelligence and how you handle yourself when dealing with other cultures.

2. Business is strategy. Positioning your assets and leveraging what you have is critical. The Chinese have taught me how important it is to separate your personal feelings and business. In the boardroom they are serious, focused, and skeptical. Out of the boardroom, they are lighthearted, curious, and friendly. There is a time for the business, there is a time for the relationship. That builds the partnership.

3. Focus on what you enjoy and it will come to you. International business strategy is what I love doing. It is what I focused on, and it is what lead me to the co-op position with Rainmaker. My boss told me on the first day of my co-op “This job is whatever you want it to be” That moved me to become an expert at what I was doing; researching, designing, writing, understanding. It manifested into an international business trip that set the tone for the rest of my career.

The U of L did a fantastic job in facilitating this co-op position with Rainmaker Global Business Development. The co-op program is an ideal platform for students looking to bridge that gap between classroom and workplace. Experience equips you with the skills you need and lets you hone in on what you truly want. What’s more valuable than that?

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