Vietnam Part 0: A View From Above

file_00040,000 FEET ABOVE IRKUTSK, A CITY I’VE ONLY HEARD OF FROM PLAYING RISK – Kit O’Connor ‘17, your recently appointed social media guru for Chazen’s inaugural Global Immersion Program in Vietnam, checking in from my flight from Newark to Hong Kong. A little bit about me before I jump into the trip: I’m a second year MBA student originally from outside Chicago, but I’ve lived in New York for nearly a decade. I enrolled at Columbia Business School to broaden my career, academic, social, and, yes, geographic horizons, and I’ll be joining McKinsey & Co as a strategy consultant in its New Jersey office after I graduate.

I actually just found out that I would be the social media point person for Vietnam earlier today (though “today” is a nebulous concept when traveling across the globe!) while I was in the midst of packing, which was a rather appropriate moment: I was surveying my bag, which included sandals, swimsuits, sweaters, and regular suits. Vietnam has a very formalized business environment, and presenting a good first impression is critical to establishing relationships.

But that was my clothing bag. My backpack contained a multitude of branded CBS knickknacks (pens, wallets, notebooks, etc.) for our hotel and company visit hosts. Another important part of doing business in Vietnam is exchanging small gifts when meeting new colleagues. In one of our classes leading up to the trip, Professor Michel Pham shared a poignant story of visiting his cousins in Vietnam, where he noticed a miniature racecar displayed prominently on a bookshelf in the living room – it turned out it was the one he had left when visiting as a child over twenty years prior!

Finally, a quick note on CBS at the center of business. Being at the center necessarily involves a surrounding area, and I was interested in knowing just how big that area was for our trip to Vietnam. I asked my classmates where they were flying to Vietnam from, and here’s a small sampling of the answers: Myanmar, Jackson (Wyoming), Bangkok, Melbourne, Cambodia, and India. Frankly, I’m not surprised – it’d be unlike CBS students to have just one adventure at a time!

That’s all for now; I have teach my body how to switch AM and PM in twenty-four hours. I’ll catch back up with you after our first event, a dinner cruise in Ho Chi Minh City!

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