Looking back and Thank you

SML Emerging Market Fieldtrip 2018 to China and Vietnam

30th June to 14th July 2018

After fifteen days of travelling 2’600 km from Beijing to Hanoi on buses, trains, ships and in airplanes, we look back with great gratitude on a challenging, but highly rewarding journey. It was a unique experience to meet so many entrepreneurial people, to visit the Swiss embassies in China and Vietnam, high-tech Chinese companies in Beijing, consulting practices and financial institutions in Hong Kong, universities and manufacturing companies in Chengdu and Chongqing, an entertainment complex in Macau and textile companies in Hanoi. In addition we were able to discuss topics such as family business and wealth management as well as possible consequences of the harsh trade dispute evolving between the US and China with financial experts, students and company representatives alike.


Students of the SML Emerging Market Fieldtrip 2018 with Ambassador Dr. Jean-Jacques Dardel and Lecturer Dr. Markus Braun at the Swiss Embassy in Beijing, July 2018.

Students from left to right: Gino Mächler, Nico Wyss, Marc Andersen, Lukas Bachmann, Christoph Bänninger, Simon Bärtschi, Davor Gavranic, Robin Chahal, Alessandro Paradiso, Luka Devcic, Jessica Stocker, Michael Trautmann, Nicole Schlierenzauer, André Vonmentlen. Not shown on the picture: Michael Sebastian Henschel, Rubén Ramirez Garcia and Wei Sun, ZHAW Research Associate


There is no doubt that the objectives of getting a real onsite insight into the rapidly growing Asian economies where present and future business partners and employers of today’s ZHAW students and tomorrow’s business people reside were fully achieved as the feedback by the students confirmed.

Despite the packed time table we were also able to take in the natural beauty of China and Vietnam as well as to visit the old cultural heritage monuments and to experience the new traffic and building achievements in Asia’s mega cities.

We sincerely thank all contributors for their generous support in making this unique journey possible. In particular and in order of the companies visited we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to

  • Ambassador Dr. Jean-Jacques Dardel, Swiss Embassy to China, Beijing
  • Dr. Nektarious Palaskas, Head, and Ms. Chenchen Liu, Project Manager, Science, Education and Technology Section, Swiss Embassy to China, Beijing
  • General Consul Frank Eggmann, Swiss General Consulate, Chengdu
  • Axel Menning, Director Public Affairs, Huawei, Zurich
  • Marc Goomber, General Manager, JV Volvo-Geely, Chengdu
  • Danyi Wang, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu
  • Kurt Lötscher, Head Group Public Affairs, ABB Headquarters and John-Hanping Zheng, ABB Transformer Co. Ltd, Chongqing
  • Ms. Zhang, Senior Partner, Ms. Jenny, CIO, and Ms. Alice, Swiss China Corporation (Wealth and Asset Management), Chongqing
  • Dr. Urs Buchmann and Ms. Vanessa Bergqvist, Credit Suisse Greater China, Hong Kong
  • Tom Wilson, Partner, and Mr. Tom Leisinger, Manager, KPMG, Hong Kong
  • Symon Tilberis, UBS, Hong Kong
  • Chan Chee Pong, Facility Manager, Galaxy Entertainment, Macau
  • Ambassador Beatrice Maser, Swiss Embassy to Vietnam, Hanoi
  • Jean-Paul Hässig, President Swiss Business Association Vietnam and Head of Cotton Asia, RDMA Cotton, Singapore

Thank you so much! We will never take your support for granted.

China and Vietnam

China is situated in Eastern Asia on the Western shore of the Pacific Ocean and encompasses an area of 9.6 million square kilometers. China’s continental coastline extends along 18,000 kilometers, and its vast sea surface is studded with more than 5,000 islands. More than 1.2 billion people live in China.

Thanks to its reform and opening-up policy, China has become stronger and stronger in economy, science and technology. The nation’s economy has been growing rapidly, with the GDP dramatically increasing year by year. President Xi Jinping closing remark of the meanwhile famous speech at this years’ Davos WEF summit is leading the way: “We Chinese know only too well what it takes to achieve prosperity so we applaud the achievements of others and we wish them a better future. We are not jealous of others’ success and we will not complain about the others who have benefited. We will welcome them aboard the express train of Chinese development.” China’s economy is gradually shifting from a merely production-oriented to an innovation-led economy. Thus the Chinese markets will continue to open up and Chinese companies will internationalize as Western companies will explore China as a future market and supply source to an even greater extent.

Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. With an estimated 90.5 million inhabitants as of 2014. Vietnam is bordered by China to the north. Its capital city has been Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1975.

Vietnam was part of Imperial China for over a millennium, from 111 BC to AD 939. An independent Vietnamese state was formed in 939.The nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Following a Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War, eventually expelling the French in 1954. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North and South Vietnam. Conflict between the two sides intensified in what is known as the Vietnam War. The war ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

Vietnam was then unified under a communist government but remained impoverished and politically isolated. In 1986, the government initiated a series of economic and political reforms which began Vietnam’s path towards integration into the world economy. By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with all nations. Since 2000, Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world. Its successful economic reforms resulted in its joining the World Trade Organization in 2007.

Twenty-five students in their final semester at the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML) embark on this study trip to China and Vietnam following attendance of the seminar “Doing business in Emerging Markets”. The objectives of this study trip are:

  • Experience the Chinese and Vietnamese way of life through real on-site exploration
  • Explore the cultural heritage and learn how to integrate the findings into doing business in emerging markets
  • Understand the buying power of China and Vietnam and its neighboring countries
  • Learn the first steps to expand one’s individual business network beyond Switzerland
  • Expand the horizon for a future professional career.

My heartfelt thanks goes to all organizations, companies and business partners in China and Vietnam who generously invited our SML student group. We deeply appreciate their support.

Moreover, I would like to thank the entire student group who co-organized this trip and in particular the core organizing team Beatrice Phua (CEO), Christian Spring (COO), Andrea Cavegn (CFO) and Andrin Wilhelm (CTO). We are all looking forward to this no doubt extremely rewarding and memorable journey.

Best wishes
Dr. Markus Braun
ZHAW School of Management and Law / Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Japan and China Trip 2014

Emerging Markets and Developed Markets are standard concepts in business schools. To visit one country from two economic stages of development, is the privilege, the students of this year’s SML-fieldtrip have. Combining in a single trip two different countries offers a high educational value.

japanJapan will be the first stop of the Asian trip. This country has a long standing friendship with Switzerland. This year marks the 150th Year of the diplomatic relationship between Japan and Switzerland, an event to honor, to celebrate and a good occasion to visit this land of the rising sun.

china Our second stop is China, a country which also has a longstanding relationship with Switzerland. In the year 2010, we celebrated 60 year of diplomatic relations between the two countries and since this year, a Free Trade Agreement has been reached.

These two Asian countries will allow our students to emerge first into the rich cultural heritage of Japan and to experience its way of doing business. Afterwards, China, the economic powerhouse build also on its rich historical heritage will be the next highlight. Comparing these two countries will allow to draw interesting parallels as well as to recognize distinctive differences.

This year’s trip follows again the academic mission of the School of Management and Law – “Building Competence. Crossing Boarders.” The overarching goal of this class is to understand, what economic needs 1’500’000’000 people have and how companies, local and foreign, serve them!

Furthermore, the students will explore live Cross Cultural Management while they emerge deeply into global business activities! Along these lines, the overarching goal is to prepare the SML-students even better for the challenges Western companies face and to become truly global minded future business leaders.

All this is made possible through the companies we can visit, the personal support of our Dean A. Haelg and Prof. F. Angst and C. Bamert, M. Morger, R. Nerz, T. Oehler and J. Paravicini of the student organization team.

For the participants, it is my wish that all aspects of the trip will be a part of their positive educational experience at the SML: May the trip enables them even further to enhance their horizon of success!

Asia, here we come again in 2014 . . . .

Prof. Dr. R Rüttimann

School of Management & Law / Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Day 17 – Last day of the official programm

After 17 days of packed program, the final day has arrived. We met a little before 9a.m. to head out for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Before the class caught the train to the campus, Professor Rüttimann informed us about the importance and challenge at the same time to build partnerships with other universities all over the globe. Especially in a more and more international perspective of studying, keeping up a good reputation by seeking contact to other institutions of knowledge is crucial. It is a long way down the road to establish these kinds of connections but on a long term perspective a rewarding effort for the school, as well for the students. Continue reading

Day 16 – Crossing borders: Last day on Chinese soil

Just before departing for some final miles on the road of the People´s Republic of China, a bakery just around the corner of our hotel was discovered. While loading the bus, everybody got their supply of breakfast and coffee and on time, we headed out strengthened to pick up Professor Rüttimann and prepare for the next company visit.

On the way to Lenovo, Professor Rüttimann informed the class about the circumstances of the visit. We were made aware of the fact, that Lenovo will not let us into the factory due to the rising competition with the kind of products manufactured in the computer-branch. Esspecially in an industry like the computer industry, products experience a very short life-cycle and therefore information has to be kept as much inside the company as possible. Continue reading

Day 15 – Slowly southwards

Today we travelled several hours by bus to get from Guangzhou (Canton) to Shenzhen on the road we made stops in both, Heshan (Green Mountain) and Dongguan.

Approx. Routing – calculated from maps.google.com


We met at 7.20 am to get on the bus at 7.45, and then we proceeded to Heshan, where we visited a Swiss Company called FRANKE.



produces kitchen supplies, industrial coffee machines, bathroom utilities and fast-food kitchen, mainly for McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Our visit focused on the ladder products, after a brief introduction from mr. Gao, senior regional operations director, we saw the production line. It was built as every manufacturing process textbook would suggest (see our figure). The Japanese 5-S (seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke in English sorting, set in order, systematic cleaning, standardising, and sustaining) was present; every team had a board where the actual state of accomplishment was shown.


                                Production site – lean-management

Graphic Display of the Production – no detours

Afterwards, two other members of the board, Ms. Wong – Regional Sales Director Asia – and Mr. White – Regional Project Execution Director joined for an exercise, in which the student-groups answered certain business case questions. These answers were checked by the three directors. During lunchtime we could continue the discussion.


After visiting FRANKE we left Dongguan to visit the South China Mall, the largest shopping centre in the World, total constructing cost reached about CHF 500 million.  However, as the shopping centre was a) too big b) badly accessible (no highway, subway or train station) and c) built in a rather poor area no one rented out shops. This impressingly showed that building without prior market research can have disastrous consequences. 99% of the shopping space is vacant since its opening or using other words: 43 Shops out of 2.300 possible ones are busy.

             “New South China Mall” – cover for a construction site demolishing parts of the Mall

Subsequently we boarded the bus again and after a convenient two-hour bus ride we arrived in Shenzhen. Prior to this we were given some facts about Shenzhen, like  its policy of being a modern and sustainable city that had an amazing growth from a small town to one of the major cities in the World due to the opening reform of chairman Deng. However, our hotel could somehow withstand this governmental policy of being modern and sustainable, it has that charming ten-years-ago “made in China”-atmosphere and is well suitable for field trip students with a major in zoology.

Written by the following members of group 4:

Florian Maier & Lukas Bühler



Day – 14 Arriving in Guangzhou

This morning we arrived at the train station of Guangzhou, we spent the all night on the train. Some were lucky and got soft sleeper class, whereas others had to be satisfied with the hard sleeper class. Nevertheless we had to be splitted, we all really appreciated this journey.


Jack, our tour guide, picked us up and lead the group to the Guang Yong Lido Hotel. Unfortunately, our organisation team had to sort out certain problems during check in, but finally everything has been solved on time. Then we had the chance to fresh up and rush for breakfast.


At noon the group shortly met up, afterwards we transfered to SGS by bus. It is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. The service has been developed in the last couple of years to a wide range of sectors and industries. SGS helps its customer reaching the required quality in many business areas. We were allowed to visit the inspection and testing laboratories. A very fascinating part of the tour has been the testing procedures for high quality soccer balls.




After the informative and interesting visit at SGS, we departed for the Sun Yat-Sen University. There we met Prof. Dr. Christian Staehlin who is Professor of Molecular Biology and Principle Investigator at the School of Life Sciences since 2005. Christian Staehelin is heading a research team interested in the Rhizobium-legume symbiosis. After a short introduction of his work and research, some of his students showed us their laboratories, work places and the botanical garden, which is located on the roof of the research building.


Heading to a typically chinese restaurant with our new friends, we enjoyed an interesting evening full of enrichments. The dinner gave us further possibilities to talk about the daily life and sum up this instructive day.

Day 13 – Tea Plantage and Brasport

Today we started our day with a short introduction and a Chinese crash course by our new guide Mrs Wong (English name: Phoebe). She sang us a song about a girl, which represents the Yan-Minority. The interesting thing about this story is, that 80% of the women wear their hair about one meter and they only cut it ones in their lifetime at the age of 18. She also informed us that Guilin has over 33 Mio visitors per year although Guilin has only 5 Mio habitants. 20’000 of these habitants are tour guides for tourists. Imagine that – 0.4% of the habitants are working as tour guides for the tourists.

After this interesting presentation we arrived at a Tea-Plantation. After a few photos of the Tea Plantage itself, we had the chance to experience a traditional tea preparation and we also had the possibility to taste four different flavours of tea. To finally round up this tea experience we went to the showroom where we could buy all the teas we tried and also all other flavours they are offering.



After a short lunch – which was arranged on short notice, because our train was cancelled and we, therefore, had to book an earlier one. Continuously, we went to the company Brasport which produces leather goods and 95% of them are leather straps for watches. Their clients are well-known Swiss watch companies. Pascal, CEO of Brasport China, informed us that they produce goods at very low costs but in the end the main client sell them for the price of 5 times or higher. This is a very high margin compared to other branches. Nevertheless, they produce in average 1.5 Mio straps per year. Additionally, they import their resources exceptionally from Europe.
Brasport company logo
Brasport production
Pascal furthermore told us, that when he came to China a few years ago, he was confronted with several cultural and economical challenges. However, he started to solve those issues with good ideas and converted the old production line step-by-step (which is named Kaizen) into a Lean-Production. Not only we could see the production, but also we learned that in China you face a few problems which you can solve by logically thoughts.
Leather straps

At 6 pm it was time to board the train to Guangzhou. Because of the shortage of space our group was separated into two groups. One had soft beds and the other one hard beds for sleeping. It was very interesting to see the different standards and how the differented classes are treated. Anyway, before going to bed we had a great time together in the train.


Written by Stefan Ackeret, Sarah Ehrensperger, Dominic Hasler, Melani Zadro

Day 11 – Boat trip to Yangshuo

After a two hours power nap we met again at the hotel lobby at 8.10 am. We left Guilin with the bus to get our boat at the Guilin Harbor to Yangshuo. The boat ride was full of amazing and fascinating landscape impressions. Continue reading

Day 10 – Geberit Visit and a very long night

A new day in shanghai before we leave to our next destination. Our group met at 7.40 am in the lobby and headed towards the subway station to transfer to the company Geberit. Geberit is a manufacturer for sanitary technology with global presence and was founded in 1874 in Switzerland. The CEO of Asia Pacific and the head of Product in Asia Pacific welcomed us to the factory and briefly introduced us to challanges in the local market. Their main goal is to increase market share by steadily improvements. Learning by doing is geberit’s approach to make the chinese market more profitable.

Continue reading