China Studies: Industry, Society and Culture – Shanghai & Ningbo 2018.12.18

In today’s global society, cultural misunderstandings and ignorance can no longer be tolerated. For so long, the world has revolved around the West, catering to its culture and lifestyle, but this is now changing. China has been growing up to be a key player in the world.

On the 29th of November, together with my classmates from the IMEM program we set for yet another immersion class to Shanghai and Ningbo. Our plan was to visit some of China's manufacturing giants (Shanghai Electric, Baosteel and IKD) and to attend an international conference on project management for getting an understanding on the key challenges that China and the world are faced with volatility and uncertainty.


Day 1

Arrived at Shanghai in the evening from Beijing via high-speed railway.

Group photo at the Bund


Day 2

First visit of the trip was to Shanghai Electric Gas Turbine Co. Ltd(上海汽轮机厂), one of China's great energy and power companies. Students visited the manufacturing and production facility of turbine blades and vanes, together with a company’s personnel in charge. Through his insight, students have gained comprehensive knowledge of the manufacturing processes involved. The history of the factory shows that the market for this type of companies is no longer friendly as people start to use alternative energies and that there is a need of diversifying their portfolios.



The group then spent the following afternoon visiting Baosteel company(宝钢), the world's fifth largest steel producer. In the 3-hour visit, students had the chance to experience the brilliance of China’s largest steelmaker manufacturing plant up close. This visit has been insightful as we got a glimpse on how a steel production line works and the complexities and challenges of processing the raw material and managing waste.



Group photo at Shanghai Electric Gas Turbine Co. Ltd


Day 3 & 4

In the next two days, students were given the privileged to attend a forum on “International Forum on Chinese Characteristic & Cross-culture Project Management 2018”, an eye opening conference related to Project Management under VUCA conditions. The forum, acting as an important platform for academic exchange and application sharing of project management personnel, has helped students gain an overall impression with regards to the development of project management in China. Students also were lucky to see how project management is viewed by academia, project management professionals and consulting companies as the representatives and speakers were great professional achievers from across the globe (EU and Australia professors, EU professionals, China professors and professionals). During the forum, Professor Wei Zhang, the director of MEM Education Center, Tsinghua University, also gave a speech on the topic “Exploring International Master of Engineering Management (IMEM) Education to Promote B&R Talent Cultivation”.



Professor Wei Zhang giving a speech at the Forum

Group photo at the Forum


Day 5

The last day was spent in Ningbo City, a modern international port city. The final stop of the immersion class was to IKD Company Co. Ltd.(爱柯迪股份有限公司), an aluminum die casting manufacturing factory. During the visit, students learned a lot about the business scope and operational aspects of the company. The main area of focus concentrates on the factory digital infrastructure. Hence, students were able to get first-hand experience on the full traceability process of an integrated factory management system. Students also had a good look at the advanced high-performance and high-precision equipment necessary for manufacturing such specialized products.


Conference at IKD

Factory tour at IKD

Group photo at IKD


Having these opportunities creates on us a vision on how things are done in China and where this giant next steps are. On the other hand, learning from different types of industries gives us diverse tools and ways of thinking so we can approach problems in our daily and professional life with a unique outlook.

——Gabriel Henriquez(IMEM 2018, Venezuela)


IKD is one of the biggest suppliers of the automotive vehicles’ parts in the world. The concept of industry 4.0 was being observed there and to my amazement, the use age of technology by the IKD was simple yet extremely effective e.g. WeChat was being used to track the procedures and communication among manpower. They manufacture steering wheel assembly, wiper assembly etc.

——Sayyed Ibraheem Saleem(IMEM 2018, Pakistan)


This trip enable me to deepen my knowledge not only about the manufacturing in China, the production process and the supply chain of the products, but also the marketing, strategy, and business process of the companies especially when we had an eye opening interview with the executives of these companies. This trip also gave me more motivation to further develop myself into knowing more about the business culture and strategies used by the Chinese manufacturer.

——Ricky Albert(IMEM 2018, Indonesia)


This factory(IKD) is one of the biggest and up-to-dates companies in field of production of aluminum parts and their biggest customers was Valeo and Bosch. The digitalize factory project was the major topic of visiting and presentation. Also their new plan for globalization which is going on by opening new factory in Mexico was discussed. One of the most interesting parts was about their integrated system where you can find all useful information on PDA, computers and even WeChat. The security of their online system and the convincing process of management was also discussed. We asked about opportunities in IKD and they answered this question like this: according to our globalization program, we will need lots of local partners in other countries who can help IKD to establish its new sites there.

——Pishbin Seyed Mohammadali(IMEM 2018, Iran)


PM in Europe tend to be more human-centered, focusing on team building, communication, relationship among parties and foster team creativity, taking a qualitative approach. PM in China is focused on achieving the seemingly impossible, focusing on super-large-scale projects, focusing on the long-term and taking a practical approach. The differences can be accounted by the nature of the industries undertaking these projects, and what particular stage is a team focusing on.

——Han Alex Bochao(IMEM 2018, Canada)



In conclusion, our main learning was that Chinese companies are looking for overseas expansion and that they are trying to become globally competitive. At the same time, we appreciate that all the managers we met were open about their shortcomings such as the lack of tradition and expertise in foreign markets and their lack of global partnerships. They are trying to overcome these by forming global partnerships with overseas companies and exploring fostering overseas talent into management roles.



WriterAlex Wui-Kiat Soon(IMEM2018, Brunei), Nasulea Mihai Bogdan(IMEM2018,Romania)

PhotoWang Haitao


Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University
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