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DBi Hong Kong 2020: Eating & Learning in High Density

By Anna Ward

Every city is known for something – New York is known for convenience, where you can access anything you want at any hour of the day. San Francisco and Los Angeles are known for their proximity to nature and incredible outdoor activities. Chicago is known for its architecture and waterfront. Hong Kong is usually known for its density. But with that density comes incredible proximity to nature, amazing convenience, world class offerings, and a breathtaking skyline surrounded by mountains and waterfront on all sides.

During the January DBi to Hong Kong, 26 students and I had the opportunity to take advantage of all that Hong Kong had to offer. We stayed in the central Wan Chai region, where we were able to try cuisines from all over Asia and beyond within steps of our hotel. We attended classes at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, whose satellite campus was in the heart of Central. Central is Hong Kong’s commercial district and shopping mecca. Between our studies and company visits, we were able to experience Hong Kong’s natural beauty, with hikes along mountain ridges, city views from towering peaks, and even a roller coaster with a 360’ ocean view. We learned quickly that Hong Kong’s density is not an accident, it has been specifically developed to fit as many offerings as possible on the small amount of land that the government allocates to real estate development. The intentional allocation preserves approximately 40% percent of the island for nature. This unique detail makes Hong Kong one of the most accessible and beautiful cities in the world.

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In the classroom, we learned about Hong Kong and mainland China’s culture, norms, and business practices. In light of the past year’s protests, we were offered a detailed overview of the historical influences that led up to the protests and Professor Bilian Sullivan’s candid view of Hong Kong and China’s future relationship. We then developed a deep understanding of China’s financial markets with Professor Yen and studied Hong Kong’s role as a global logistics hub with Professor Lau. Outside of the classroom, we were able to witness Hong Kong’s operations in action during a visit to Modern Terminal, one of the largest shipping terminals in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor. We also visited Hong Kong based airline Cathay Pacific, known both for their passenger and cargo air fleet, and the MTR, Hong Kong’s metro system.

We wrapped up our in-class studies with a two-day industry-specific deep dive by Professor Roger Chen into the technology sector. China has been gaining traction in global markets across a variety of emerging tech solutions; including cell phones, AI technologies, and social media.

One of our favorite company visits was to Ocean Park, Hong Kong’s second largest theme park. Not only were we offered an intimate overview of the park’s operations and marketing strategy, but we were also granted access to the theme park for the rest of the day. We rode the roller coasters, took the cable cars, and were able to see many exotic animals, including pandas, koalas, penguins and walruses.

We left our two weeks in Hong Kong with a deeper understanding of not only how to do business in China, but also how to live life in Hong Kong and China. We developed this perspective through our studies, our experiences in the city, and of course, through our stomachs – consuming hundreds of dumplings, noodles, dim sum and more along the way!

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