China Trek 1 | Exploring China’s Greater Bay Area: a journey through the heart of finance, technology and innovation

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From 20-26 April 2024, 23 candidates from the University of Cambridge’s EMBA 2022 cohort embarked on a week-long China Trek through the Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macao area of China, also known as the Greater Bay Area. The aim of the trek was to explore business opportunities, promote cultural exchanges and identify educational collaborations. The journey combined innovation, tradition, business, and cross-cultural engagement, offering unique experiences and unforgettable moments.

Endorsed by Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) and generously supported by all the companies and organisations that hosted us, the China Trek was initiated and led by our own EMBA 2022 fellow classmates with Chinese heritage, including Dr Anyu Gao, Hilary Wang and Steven Lu, and supported by Sunny Li, David Shan and James Zhang. These leaders guided us through a carefully crafted itinerary that showcased the dynamic business landscape and rich cultural heritage of the Greater Bay Area. We also received fantastic support from our own CJBS Head of Careers Sadia Cuthbert, who joined our Trek, and Cecile Gani, as well as the EMBA programme team’s Cicely Atherton, Alistair Westwood, Jennifer Martin, and many more.

Day 1: A stormy start in Hong Kong’s cultural heart

Our Trek began in Hong Kong, China, with a visit to the Palace Museum, where we glimpsed the country’s rich history and art. Despite a tropical storm that nearly disrupted our plans, we navigated the city’s bustling streets with determination. We visited Jones Day Law Firm to explore the complexities of Hong Kong’s capital markets, learning from one of the leading international law firms known for its expertise in corporate finance. We ended the day with a lively dinner with Hong Kong EMBA alumni, setting the tone for the collaborative spirit that would carry us through the week.

Kicking off the trek in Hong Kong

Day 2: Hong Kong’s role as a global financial centre

Day 2 centred around innovation and entrepreneurship and Hong Kong’s role as a global financial centre. Our first stop was Hashkey, a major player in the world of cryptocurrency, renowned for its innovative approach to digital asset management. Next, we visited the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, one of the largest in the world, where we delved into the intricacies of Asian finance. The Hong Kong Science and Technology Park demonstrated the vibrant innovation ecosystem fostered by government support and entrepreneurial spirit. We concluded the day with dinner at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, where we shared experiences with local entrepreneurs and discussed the city’s entrepreneurial culture.

Heading out to Hong Kong Science Park

Day 3: Exploring Hengqin’s e-commerce focus

On Day 3, we ventured across the iconic Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the world’s longest sea bridge, into Hengqin, before travelling onward to Shenzhen. The focus was on cross-border collaboration and e-commerce. We visited Huafa Cross-border E-commerce Industrial Park, known for its innovative logistics solutions, and Hengqin International Science and Technology Innovation Centre, a rapidly growing hub for tech start-ups. These visits highlighted the seamless integration of technology and commerce that drives this region’s rapid growth.

Visit the E-Commerce Industrial Park in Hengqin

Day 4: Shenzhen: A technological frontier

Shenzhen, a city synonymous with technological innovation, was our destination on Day 4. We visited Tencent, one of China’s leading technology companies, renowned for its WeChat platform and gaming services. Our visit to the Peking University HSBC Business School provided insights into the entrepreneurial mindset that drives Shenzhen’s rapid growth. These visits revealed the dynamic spirit and relentless drive for success that characterise Shenzhen’s tech industry.

Learning about Shenzhen’s Journey to become a global innovation hub in Peking University HSBC Business School

Day 5: Uncovering Shenzhen’s innovation landscape

Day 5 was about exploring Shenzhen’s innovation scene. We visited Insta360, a leader in 360-degree cameras and virtual reality with a leading global market share. We then went to ZTE, a major telecommunications giant known for its pioneering role in 5G technology. Finally, we visited Aiflux Tech, a market leader in the portable energy solutions sector. These companies exemplify the bold creativity and relentless drive that have made Shenzhen a global tech and innovation hub. We ended the day with a traditional north-eastern dinner, celebrating the cultural diversity and rich culinary traditions of the region.

Welcome reception in ZTE
Learning about Insta360’s journey of growth and innovation

Day 6: Reflecting on business success and future opportunities

The final day began with a visit to Shenzhen Capital Group Co Ltd (SCGC), China’s leading venture capital firm that has invested in many successful start-ups, many of which have achieved IPOs, and DJI, the world leader in drone technology. A highway coach breakdown almost derailed our schedule, but BYD, one of the world’s leading electric vehicle manufacturers, rescued us with incredible efficiency. We concluded our journey at Springs of the Clouds, a tranquil setting where we reflected on the week’s experiences and shared our hopes for future collaborations.

Exchanges on innovation with BYD

How to find out more about the trek

This journey through China’s Greater Bay Area was a testament to the power of cross-cultural collaboration, business innovation, and exploration. It gave our delegation valuable insights into the rapidly evolving business landscape of the region and a deeper appreciation of the cultural richness that drives innovation. It also provided an opportunity to share the insights, knowledge and experiences of Cambridge EMBA students and the wider Cambridge community with our hosts; this was also greatly appreciated.

As we return to Cambridge, we bring with us new knowledge, fresh perspectives, lasting connections, and promising business collaborations. This trek was more than just a trip – it was a journey of discovery, a celebration of collaboration, and a reaffirmation of the importance of embracing global diversity in business and education. Stay tuned for the next blog post in the series, when we’ll dive deeper into the fascinating stories and unique learnings from this remarkable journey through China’s Greater Bay Area.

Continuing the Cambridge spirit and Judge tradition of shared learning through connections

If you are part of Cambridge Judge Business School or the wider University of Cambridge community and would like us to make an introduction on your behalf to the companies, universities, executives, entrepreneurs, and so on, or if you are interested in participating in future treks, please contact the China Trek organisers from the EMBA 2022 cohort, Anyu Gao, Hilary Wang, or Steven Lu.

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