Students learn about East Asian economy, financial services on trip to Taiwan, Hong Kong

April 2 2007

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Instead of lying on sandy beaches, Indiana State University business students spent their spring break traveling to Taiwan and Hong Kong to get an in-depth education in international business and the financial services industry, thanks to the generosity of ISU alumnus Paul Lo.

The trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong was part of a class co-taught by ISU College of Business faculty Wei He and Chia-An Chao, entitled “Doing Business in East Asia,” with a focus on China and Taiwan. Ten students and the two faculty members participated in the experience. The study trip was supported by a $30,000 gift from Lo, CEO of SinoPac Holdings of Taiwan, and a 1970 MBA graduate of ISU.

Prior to founding Bank SinoPac, which later became SinoPac Holdings, an integrated financial services firm, Lo held various positions with Citibank for 17 years in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Taipei. With the opening of Taiwan's banking system to private banks in 1992, he formed Bank SinoPac by raising $400 million in capital. In the years since its founding, SinoPac has grown rapidly, and today, it has branches and a host of financial affiliates including securities and leasing companies throughout Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and California.

During the six-day study tour, students spent most of their time touring different areas of SinoPac Holdings and speaking with managers and researchers from different divisions, including securities, banking and research. The students also visited the Taiwan Stock Exchange and met with students from the National Chengchi University’s International MBA program. A trip to Hong Kong also was included as part of the itinerary.

“I hope this trip opened their eyes to international exposures and expectations, and that they realize that they can achieve whatever they want in life and have big dreams,” Lo said. “You have to travel to see the world and how big it really is, then you can realize how small you are.”

It wasn’t all work, though. Students had the opportunity to see Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world, the Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Museum, the National Palace Museum, the Hsing Tian Temple, and many other cultural attractions.

Whitney Lewis, a junior management major from Frankton, Ind., said the trip to Hong Kong was her favorite part of the week because it gave her hope to pursue her dream of working internationally.

“The opportunity to visit Hong Kong made me realize that I could really work in international business and live in another country,” Lewis said. “There is such a mix of people and cultures in that city. It is interesting and also very promising.”

Michael Keys, a senior management major from Paris, Ill., enjoyed talking to the business professionals from different countries and learning from their diverse backgrounds and experiences.

“I think that the most important thing I learned was that you need to have a global perspective when you think about business,” he said.

This was Keys’ first visit to Taiwan, while Lewis visited Taiwan as part of a similar trip two years earlier. For both students, this experience showed them the importance of doing business in Asia.

“International investment is crucial, and this was the topic of many discussions throughout the week,” Lewis said. “I was able to learn a great deal about this by sitting in on the various meetings and lectures.”

Keys said the trip helped him realize that “Asia is a big player in the world economy, and they are developing and growing quickly.”

That is exactly what Paul Lo and the two ISU faculty members - Wei He, a native of mainland China, and Chi-An Chao, a native of Taiwan - wanted the students to learn from the experience.

China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies on the basis of purchasing power parity. Taiwan and South Korea have ranked among the world’s most prosperous newly-industrialized economies for the past 20 years. This makes East Asia, as Keys said, a big player in the world’s economy.

By seeing firsthand how these businesses and business professionals work in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the students were able to compare the differences between Asian and U.S. companies.

“In Terre Haute, or the Midwest of the United States, our students definitely need more opportunities to know the world, to know how people in other countries work, particularly in the era of economic and business globalization,” Wei He said. “We believe our students need to learn more about other countries in terms of culture, economic systems, and business aspects and all those things.”

Indiana State University President Lloyd W. Benjamin III led an ISU delegation to visit Taiwan two years ago and saw firsthand how the experience can directly benefit ISU students.

“This is absolutely transformational for our students,” he said. “I think in a day and age when we are producing students who are going to go into financial services, into banking, risk management, they’ve got to understand the global environment within which we’re working.”

For Lewis, her trips to Taiwan and Hong Kong have done more than teach her about business management in Asia; they have opened her eyes to different cultures all around the world.

“My first trip to Taiwan was the first international experience I had ever had, and it really opened doors for me,” she said. “After visiting there, I realized that there really wasn’t anything stopping me from continuing to make international trips or in getting that international exposure.”

The entire study group expressed great appreciation for Lo, not only for his generous financial support and hospitality, but for sharing with them invaluable life lessons from his personal and business experiences. “I hope I can continue to work with ISU, my alma mater, to develop whatever experiences we can in our part of the world,” Lo said.

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Students participating in the study trip included:
• Tiffany Alexander, junior, accounting major, Terre Haute, Ind.
• Michael Clampitt, junior, management/finance major, Roachdale, Ind.
• Donald Collier, MBA, Terre Haute, Ind.
• Michael Keys, senior, management/finance, Paris, Ill.
• Jin Hee Lee, MBA, Seoul, Republic of Korea
• Whitney Lewis, junior, business management major, Frankton, Ind.
• Lamprini Pantazi, MBA, Athens, Greece
• Andrew Pyle, sophomore, management information systems major, Vallonia, Ind.
• Chris Shackmann, senior art major and marketing minor, Danville, Ill.
• Shannon Walsh, MBA, Boston, Mass.

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CONTACTS: For course information: Dr. Wei He, assistant professor of management, (812) 237-2373, whe@isugw.indstate.edu; For the Taiwan and Hong Kong trip: Dr. Chi-An Chao, assistant professor of business education, information and technology (BEIT), (812) 237-2075 or bechao@isugw.indstate.edu

WRITERS: Megan Anderson, Indiana State University, Communications and Marketing student intern, (812) 237-3773 or manderson13@indstate.edu; and Maria Greninger, associate director, Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4357 or mgreninger@indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Instead of lying on sandy beaches, Indiana State University business students spent their spring break traveling to Taiwan and Hong Kong to get an in-depth education in international business and the financial services industry, thanks to the generosity of ISU alumnus Paul Lo.

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