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International Research Course Visits Hong Kong

12 March 2013

For this week's post, Neyda Reed, a student in the UTEP Full-Time MBA Program, reports on her experience in the 2013 International Research Course.

This January we traveled to Hong Kong as part of an MBA International Research Course focusing on corporate governance.  While in class in El Paso, we covered the corporate governance structure in the United States.  The seminars and corporate visits we attended in Hong Kong focused primarily on the way business is conducted in China and, more specifically, in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is a financial hub in Asia which is differentiated by its long-standing history of common law and business-friendly policies.  Being a British colony for 156 years gave Hong Kong a uniquely westernized culture, and the city is known as the gateway between the east and the west. 

Our first day in Hong Kong we were taken on a guided tour of the city. We first visited the Taoist temple, Wong Tai Sin.  During the tour we learned that Buddhism and Taoism are the two most practiced religions in Hong Kong.  While Taoism originated in China, Buddhism was adopted from India.  In the temple, we found beautiful sculptures and other decorations.  People prayed in an open space and brought food offerings with them and burned incense.  Next, we rode the tram up to the Hong Kong Peak which is the highest point in Hong Kong.  There, we were able to appreciate the cityscape comprised of impressive skyscrapers which were contrasted by the still highly vegetated landscape. It is truly a sight to see.  Afterwards we took a short boat ride eat a Chinese-style lunch at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, located in the Aberdeen Harbor. We ended the day with a trip to Stanley Market where we were able to shop for a variety of Chinese curios. 

The following days were busy with academic seminars and corporate visits.  We met students and staff from Hong Kong Baptist University who were extremely gracious hosts and were willing to answer our cascade of questions about how business is conducted in Hong Kong.  One of the most interesting points in the seminars was how Hong Kong maintains its competitive advantage by differentiating itself from mainland China with its own currency and common laws.  Even though Hong Kong is now a part of China, the city still maintains a separate identity.  The lecturers we visited were from different backgrounds. Some were strictly academic, others had previous or current corporate experience, while others were government officials.  We even met with the CEO of a major financial institution in Hong Kong, Sun Hung Kai Financial Limited. 

Visiting Hong Kong as a representative of UTEP was a great experience.  I highly recommend to any student who is contemplating an international research course to make the investment. The amount of knowledge we received from experts in their field was extremely valuable in its own right. But the experience of branching out to a completely different part of the world and getting to see firsthand what another country has to offer, how its businesses operate, and experiencing the culture is an opportunity that I am sure will not present itself often and must be grabbed whenever it is available.