Study trip to Hong Kong with Dr. Jeroen Kuilman

By Semra Woldemikael

Mid-January, our group of 32 Tilburg University students along with Dr. Jeroen Kuilman, crowded the (already crowed!) streets and stood in awe of Hong Kong's breathtaking skyline. The city welcomed us with much appreciated warm weather and its vibrant urban center.  The program of the trip aimed at achieving a good balance between learning and sightseeing but also between the blatant economic prosperity and the hidden poverty of Hong Kong.

During the following 10 days, amongst other things, we visited 8 companies that provided us with real-world insight into entrepreneurship and global business.

MTR, Adidas & KPMG China

  • We were granted access by the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to the Control Room of what some dub as the most envied metro station in the world due to its efficiency.
  • At Adidas, after taking a look at the impressive hall exhibiting past models of Football World Cup balls and an interactive presentation on the German sports brand, we were split in 4 teams to solve a real company case aligned with Adidas’ current focus on sustainability. The winning team suggested a disruptive business model that could solve the complex problem at hand and the case exemplified the existing need for entrepreneurial thinking even within large companies. 
  • As the first among the Big Four to receive a special general partnership in mainland China, KPMG has a firm commitment to the Chinese market. In the new and state-of-the-art headquarter of the company, we met with accountants, consultants and auditors that shared their latest projects with us.

Cyberport and Science Park

CyberPort and Science Park are at the heart of Hong Kong’s innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem. The two companies’ ultramodern and impressive complexes, bordering the water, were reflective of the dynamic environment, in which we found a campus-like feeling that accommodates both start-ups and big names. Their respective incubator programs host small tech firms on both the local and global stage and provide them with working area, leisure space and R&D labs. To illustrate: at Science Park, MotherApp’s founder and CFO - who also happens to be one of Google’s first employees - received us enthusiastically and explained how MotherApp used agile technology to help Ocean Park reduce their attraction waiting times using real-time data, in order to enhance consumer experience. We (of course) also visited Philips!

DJI and Links Concept

These two companies are truly entrepreneurial endeavors that succeed due to the genuine passion that is injected into them.

A former student of Dr. Kuilman, now the vice-president of R&D for DJI (the company that currently holds 70% market share in the global consumer drone market), humbly narrated the story of DJI. Beyond the specifications of the products they offered, we also discussed how such a rapid company growth was managed by a group of relatively young people.

Links Concept is one of the leading wine and spirits distributor in China, Macau and Hong Kong. While treating us to his favorite champagne (Crystal), Patricio de La Fuente shared with us his failures, successes and wisdom, that boiled down to the paramount importance of passion in anything one undertakes. The Dutch-Chilean self-made entrepreneur’s charismatic personality and witty humor grabbed our attention for more than 2 hours.

From explanations of well-defined business processes and close interaction with the entrepreneurial environment to words of wisdom from successful entrepreneurs and business representatives, this trip provided us with a tangible, fun and truly valuable learning experience.

Semra Woldemikael participated in this study trip as a 3rd year Bachelor student International Business Administration with a minor in Entrepreneurship.