Entrepreneurship and Culture in China
Post by Samantha Donovan (’15) and Cole Ungar (’15)
The phrase “you have to see it to believe it” is hardly sufficient to describe the BRIC experience. From state company tours such as SGCC, a subsidiary of the larger State Grid that is responsible for powering most of China, and Baosteel, one of the world’s largest steel manufacturing plants, to entrepreneurs including Jay Hoenig, a consulting guru and founder of a social media recruiting platform for professionals, and Mary Rezek, a solopreneur who started a leadership consulting enterprise, this week has arguably been the most enlightening and comprehensive week to date.
Of the many entrepreneurs that came to speak with us, Mary Rezek certainly stood out. At Babson we’re taught to rely on and collaborate with our peers, to use them as a security blanket and optimize idea generation, though seldom are we taught to go it alone—to be a solopreneur. Mary Rezek exemplifies a solopreneur—someone who runs a solely owned enterprise without any employees; her individualism is her brand, her reputation is her image. Mary’s business structure is alien to many entrepreneurs and businesspersons alike, though she uses many of the same outlets that larger companies do; while she may not have any direct employees, she networks across companies and industries to develop formidable guanxi and a competitive business practice.
Mary is adamant about her strengths as well as her developmental areas and conveys these to potential clients so as to avoid any confusion about the service she can provide. Mary uses her well-founded network and guanxi for business practices that she does not feel competent in. Though many Babson students know to emphasize strengths and improve upon developmental areas, it is important to understand the power and privilege that a strong support system offers, especially one as notable as Babson.
This week has been jam-packed with social excitement! We celebrated two birthdays: Mariette, our program coordinator, and Graham. The group collaborated to write two heartfelt cards.
We also went to a one-hour play in Hangzhou called “Impressions on Westlake” directed by China’s most famous director Zhang Yi Mo who also directed the Beijing Olympic ceremonies. “Impressions on Westlake” rivaled Cirque de Soleil in both unparalleled talent and ingenious imagination. The performers danced and acted on floating wooden panels in the center of a lake that gave the illusion of walking on water. They were complimented by glimmering lights that shone through the trees bordering the perimeter of the lake, an extravagant floating houseboat, and moveable metal structures that towered over the stage. The play had no dialogue, which allowed for many interpretations; all interpretations revolve around a plot of love and loss.
“Impressions on Westlake” was the perfect way to spend our first night in Hangzhou and celebrate a couple BRIC birthdays. I can only hope that the upcoming performances will be as impressive; the bar has been set high!