Anything is possible in Southeast Asia. After our various company visits during our seminar in Thailand and Vietnam, we would realize how true this statement is. There is a plethora of knowledge and tips to learn from businesses in these areas of the world. The level of growth and development in recent years here is staggering and there’s so much useful information to soak in just from the companies we visited within our 2-week seminar! We gained insight into what a business executive could experience during a business trip. An experience that I could not have gained otherwise.
Our Executive Experience
Our program took us through 7 company visits. This included the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), IKEA, and Mahanakorn Partners Group in Thailand. In Vietnam, we visited with Osprey Packs, Shilla Bags, the US Consulate, and the Intel test/assembly facility. The lineup featured a great variety of information, different types of businesses to experience, and an excellent opportunity to learn valuable information about doing business in this part of the world!
I am a classroom learner, and that is what I am used to. Sometimes I would have guest speakers come into a class to talk. Being able to talk to executives in a setting like this was overwhelming for me but in a good way! It really had a big impact on being able to interact with executives in this fashion. All of the executives we met with on the seminar were very gracious and were more than happy to share their time with us. As someone used to more of that classroom setting, I put a lot of value into the visits, and I did my best to take in as much as I could throughout each visit.
My Favorite Company Visit
And there was a lot of good information. I think some of my favorite things to learn was with some of the culture and regulation differences in Southeast Asia and how the executives in these companies talked about their experiences with these and how they dealt with them. I really think each of the companies we visited was great, but if I had to pick one that was a “favorite”, it would be IKEA. Not only were the presenters super nice and personable, but their tour through the store was very informative, and they genuinely seemed happy to present IKEA with us.
One of the more interesting things I remember from IKEA was the tour of the store and the executives telling us about how all of the things were placed where they were. They mentioned how new beds were placed with feet facing the aisle where people were walking… and no one was trying out the beds. Well, in Thailand, having your feet pointing at anyone is a sign of disrespect. Once the beds were shifted around everyone was trying them out again.
Much more than expected
I would say the company visits were mostly what I expected but more. As I mentioned before it was a good mixture of visits. Some were more around the idea of a meeting, sit and take notes, and ask your questions during or after. Others featured storefront or plant tours, and on tours like our tour through Osprey Packs and Shilla Bags, we got some great behind the scenes views and explanations with their operations.
Working and Living Abroad
By the end of the various company visits… we also started to get a fairly good idea of what it’s like to work and live abroad by talking to each of these executives. Many of them had lived somewhere else in the world prior to coming to Southeast Asia to work here. The nature of the visits allowed for various opportunities to network along the way. Some of them even mentioned specifically that they are seeking out interns. For the Mahanakorn Partners Group… they were looking for 3 months minimum for their interns. Interns then have the necessary time to get accustomed to life in Southeast Asia before signing on… as people not getting used to the lifestyle happens from time to time.
I’ve had some inkling about working and living abroad before going on this trip. Through these visits, and the program as a whole, I have a much better idea of what to expect in pursuing work abroad. I definitely want to travel more abroad now. This was my first time out of the United States and this program was so beneficial for me. I am definitely open to exploring abroad opportunities in the future. The trip was so helpful with having more grounded and realistic expectations of working abroad.
I learned a lot about myself through the program as well. One of the biggest things I realized is to continue to put myself out there in situations I am not used to, the value of adaptation, and opening myself up more. My doors tend to shut fairly easily. I am happy I decided to do this program even though it was a major step for me!