First day in Guangzhou

Very early in the morning, 7 am to be exact, we met each other in the lobby of the Lido hotel in Guangzhou. Topic number one was our first impression of the city and the hotel. The tenor was not very positive at first. At the arrival on the previous day at around 00:25 all the streets were empty and the city looked like a ghost town in a certain way. Our hotel did not really change the opinion.

At 9 am we arrived at Lonza and were introduced to several managers of Lonza by Mr Lim, the general manager. Lonza is one of the worlds leading suppliers to the pharmaceutical, healthcare and life science industries. Lonza is the global leader in the production and support of active pharmaceutical ingredients both chemically as well as biotechnologically. Mr Lim gave us a brief introduction of the company. Lonza was founded in 1897, as Lonza AG Electricity works in Gampel, Valais (Switzerland). The joint venture in Guangzhou was signed by Lonza in 1996 to build up a plant to satisfy the regional market needs in China. Further he gave us a short impression of China and the business of the company in China. After asking a few questions we enjoyed a coffee break with dragon eggs and litchi’s followed by a tour through the facilities. Generally the machines offer the same standard and quality as the ones in Switzerland because they used exactly the same technology. They, however, did not think of the temperature differences between Switzerland and South China. This made the management of the machines more difficult.We also gained an insight in the monitoring-system of the facilities which has the same security standards as in Switzerland.

All in all we had a very interesting morning, which was rounded off with a group photo and the exchange of gifts. Each student received a beautiful and tiny keychain with a memory stick.

In the afternoon we went to Guangzhou downtown to the centre plaza where we were invited to listen to three speeches. These were held by Mr. Nievergeld, the Swiss General Consul, Mr. Urs Calonder, who shared his 19 years experience in China and at last Mr. Boesiger, a former student of the ZHAW, who is today a successful entrepreneur in China.

Towards 6pm we arrived at the residence of the Swiss General Consul, Mr. Nievergeld. Mrs. and Mr. Nievergeld warmly welcomed us as well as expatriates and managers operating in Swiss enterprises with some welcome drinks. The Swiss expatriates and the managers are all working in the Pearl River Delta. Ms. Cvitkusic and Mr. Brunner presented the findings of their bachelor thesis with the topic of the past, the presence and the future of Swiss Companies in the greater Pearl River Delta. These findings are summarized in a booklet, which was published by the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in China and the ZHAW. After the presentation we had a very nice dinner buffet with delicious Swiss specialities, which was very pleasant after two weeks of Chinese food. At the same time we had the opportunity to talk to the expatriates and managers to share information and experiences.

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