Discovery Trip – China & Japan (Nicholas Toubkin)

Stephanie, Nick A and I are back from our fantastic trip to China and Japan.  It was incredible to learn more about these fantastic, vibrant, unforgettable countries.

The trips were mainly work-oriented, but this didn’t dampen the fun for a second, as it was genuinely fascinating to learn more about the business environments in these two countries, and to connect with our fantastic alumni.  Before the trip, I questioned the academic value of such an expedition; now, I don’t doubt it for a second.

The alumni network was inspiring – from one of Asia’s foremost Private Equity individuals, to a go-getting and passionate entrepreneur, it was so refreshing to see what our alumni had done with the skills they learnt at IMD.  I was particularly inspired by the ‘can-do’ approach of our alumni in China, who are taking every opportunity possible to harness the exceptional growth in the country.  In Japan, the alumni team were equally interesting – but given the Japanese culture, very modest about their fantastic achievements!

This Saturday, we spent a full day in Tokyo doing a joint workshop with some senior executives from Japan’s largest corporates.  This was combined with some keynote speeches from a prominent Japanese economist, two partners from McKinsey, and a Taiwanese executive sharing her experiences as a foreign CEO of a listed Japanese conglomerate.  The speeches were inspiring and thought provoking, but the interaction with the executives was really fascinating – and a fantastic opportunity to dig a little into the mindset of Japanese workers.  What I found (as a generalisation) was an unyielding passion for precision and excellence.  It really was so interesting to find that many Japanese workers really do take accuracy as such a high priority, and reflecting how this might affect the flexibility of the economy.

Despite the strong focus on work and business discovery on the trip, there was nevertheless some time for sightseeing, which we grabbed to the greatest of our abilities.  It was amazing to explore Shanghai –  such a vibrant city, with a Gucci store seemingly on every corner.  The energy in Tokyo was palpable, whilst Kyoto brought a sense of calm and spiritual balance to our trip.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of the best bits of the trip – so I’l write an update soon.  Stephanie will be giving her impressions, and Nick A will be providing photos in due course.  And for those of you interested to know about our counterparts’ experience in Singapore & Dubai and Mexico & California, I’ve been promised some guest contributions soon.

Until next time,

Nick.