Wharton’s West Coast Class Dives “Deep and Broad” into Business in China

Tianlin Wang is a senior manager at Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, OR and a member of the second-year class at Wharton | San Francisco. He helped organize his class’ International Seminar trip to China.

I looked at organizing our International Seminar trip to China as a unique opportunity to make a major contribution to my class. Many of my classmates have been to the country before, but this type of trip really offered a more profound understanding of China than a regular business or leisure trip ever could. This was mainly because we had access to some of the most seasoned business leaders at 17 different local and multi-national firms, which allowed us to dive into the business environment there on a much deeper and broader level.

In general, the amount of information we received during those company visits completely exceeded my expectations. The executives and entrepreneurs we met with shared incredible insights about their companies. We talked about both their successes and frustrations, why things work well, and why they don’t work well. The candid nature of these discussions can be attributed to the students’ own connections and credentials, the Wharton name opening up doors, and the fact that the companies were open to receiving feedback from Wharton executive MBA students.

A particularly interesting visit for me was our stop at Nike where two VPs gave a very frank talk about the competitive landscape. Local firms are getting more sophisticated every year so they talked about how the company is positioning itself as a market leader in different tiers of cities. I also really enjoyed our visit to Major League Baseball. It’s surprising that the MLB has an office in China given that sport isn’t that popular yet. Basketball is very big, but most people have no idea what baseball is so the MLB is working to get people’s attention and build up awareness from the school level on up.

Overall, the trip was a great bonding experience for our class. Originally coming from China, I helped organized group dinners and social events almost every night. Having a small taste of local flavor and tradition created memorable moments for everyone. In addition to the Great Wall of China, I took some students to Hangzhou, which is a beautiful area near Shanghai. Others travelled together to Hong Kong.

We spend a lot of time together during class weekends in San Francisco, but there is always a paper due or exam to focus on. This trip was the first time we could all relax together, and being in a foreign country together for seven days was a lot of fun. I know so many more of my classmates, and deepened existing relationships. Wharton’s EMBA program has a lot of highlights, but this was certainly one of the top ones so far. The trip is the best “class” I took at Wharton!