On the way to new Asian University Partnerships
Excursion of the Department of Information Management to Hanoi, Vietnam
The excursion of the of the Department of Information Management in the summer semester 2017 led Information Management and Corporate Communications (IMUK) students to Southeast Asia, to Vietnam. The delegation was chaired by the Vice President of the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU), Prof. Dr. Olaf Jacob, and the Internationalization Officer, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Reisach, and partially accompanied by Research Professor Dr. Heiko Gewald.
After a short walk through the vibrant and modern capital Hanoi on the arrival day Sunday, the company visits started with the Foreign Trade Chamber (AHK) of Vietnam. on Monday. Deputy Managing Director Bjoern Koslowski presented the various tasks of the AHK. The IMUK students noticed that although the AHK is very present on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, it should use a new and more effective social media strategy. The afternoon, the excursion group visited the manufacturing sites of EUROPLAS, a manufacturer of plastic material in Vietnam. Despite having Euro in its name, it is an all Vietnamese company. In their factories it was interesting to see that the company is currently dealing with the effects of its activities on the environment. However, EUROPLAS is currently researching for recyclable plastics.
Next day’s visit took the delegation to Haxaco-Mercedes, the Vietnamese sales partner of Mercedes. There are three Haxaco-Mercedes dealers in Vietnam. All requests will be sent to the main trader in Ho Chi Minh City, which then communicates the customer’s desires to Mercedes in Germany. After a company presentation, the latest Mercedes models and the key sales concepts were demonstrated to the students in the showroom. The exhibition followed the same Corporate Identity as in Germany because this is what the Vietnamese upper class wants. Still, some details like the training methods for employees and a buddha shrine with devotions made clear that there are cultural specifics.
The deputy director of the next company B. Braun, Roman Kuebler welcomed the delegation very friendly and presented the company. B. Braun is a German medical-technology group, divided into the areas Hospital Care, Aesculap, OPM and B. Braun Avitum. When they entered the Vietnamese market, B. Braun concluded a joint venture with a Vietnamese company. They bought the company over the time. A major problem for the company still is the lack of skilled labor. Therefore B. Braun offers training courses for their employees, some of them also following the German dual professional education scheme. Together with Mr. Kuebler, the participants visited the manufacturing halls using state-of-the-art clean-room technology and learned about the processes and the strategic advantages of producing in Vietnam.
Thai Doung Development and Investment Joint Stock Company is a well-known manufacturer of films and woven packaging material in Vietnam with approximately 3,500 employees. The production uses a combination of automation and manual work. High-quality and important processes are developed by hand. When inspecting the production halls, it was noticeable that workers had to perform under not so easy working conditions. It was discussed whether and to what extent this is due to the fact that Vietnam is a newly industrialized country and what the company could do to optimize working conditions and processes for its employees.
On the last day, the delegation visited the two leading universities in Vietnam, the Foreign Trade University and the Vietnam National University. The campus and the teaching programme were presented and students as well as professors exchanged ideas with the respective colleagues. Both universities have a remarkably large campus. The Foreign Trade University for example is one of the most respected universities in Hanoi with approximately 18,000 students. Summing up, the Vietnamese students were very well educated and had excellent English skills. The ‘Letters of Intent’ are a cornerstone for a future partnership and thus for the development of an exchange for students and teachers in Hanoi.
The cultural highlight of the excursion to Hanoi was the day trip to the world famous ‘Ha Long Bay’. This included a boat trip through the bay where the delegation could admire impressive caves and beaches.
The participants gained exciting impressions and experiences professionally as well as culturally. At the same time, the HNU presented itself through presentations by the students and expert discussions, thus preparing the basics for the expansion of existing contacts and partnerships. Since Asia will be an even more attractive business partner in the future, Prof. Reisach and Prof. Gewald also visited Thai respectively Chinese universities to prepare the next partnerships.