The group starts their trek in Hong Kong.

Cambridge EMBAs explore innovation in China’s Greater Bay area

8 July 2024

The article at a glance

Treks are student-led trips to destinations in the UK and overseas to learn more about local businesses. They are an optional part of the Executive MBA programme at Cambridge Judge and take place in students’ own time.
From 20-26 April 2024, 23 participants from the 2022 cohort of the Executive MBA programme embarked on a week-long China Trek through the Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macao area of China, also known as the Greater Bay Area.

Category: News Programme news

The aim of the trek was to explore business opportunities, promote cultural exchange and identify educational collaborations. The journey combined innovation, tradition, business and cross-cultural engagement, offering unique experiences and unforgettable moments.

Generously supported by all the host companies and organisations, the China Trek was initiated and led by members of the EMBA 2022 cohort with Chinese heritage, including Dr Anyu Gao, Hilary Wang and Steven Lu, and supported by Sunny Li, David Shan and James Zhang.

Day 1

A stormy start in Hong Kong’s cultural heart

Hong Kong Palace Museum.
Hong Kong Palace Museum

Our trek began in Hong Kong, with a visit to the Palace Museum that provided a fascinating insight into the country’s rich history and art. We then switched gears from culture to commerce and delved into the complex world of capital markets at Jones Day, a US international law firm. Guided by Charles Chau, a partner at Jones Day and University of Cambridge alumnus, we navigated the intricacies of Hong Kong’s financial landscape. Charles’ deep dive into IPOs, mergers and acquisitions deepened our understanding of the sophisticated mechanisms driving this bustling metropolis as a key financial hub in Asia-Pacific. In the following dynamic Q&A session, Charles shared his insights into the evolution of Hong Kong’s financial markets and their potential adjustments as integration with the mainland progresses and regional competition, from countries such as Singapore, intensifies.

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. The first stop was Hashkey, a major player in the world of cryptocurrency, renowned for its innovative approach to digital asset management. As the first and only cryptocurrency exchange currently regulated in Hong Kong, it was fascinating to hear how and why they have succeeded where competitors have stumbled. The promise of new regulatory frameworks set the stage for a discussion on the opportunities ahead, highlighting Hong Kong’s strategic position as a beacon of progress in the rapidly changing world of finance.

At the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, one of the largest in the world, we delved into the subtleties of Asian finance. This was followed by a visit to the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, which demonstrated the vibrant innovation ecosystem fostered by government support and entrepreneurial spirit. The visit provided a first-hand look at the transformative power of local innovation, inspiring us to consider the endless possibilities that can be achieved through creativity and ingenuity.

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.

Day 3

Exploring Hengqin’s e-commerce

Hengqin and Macao harbour.
Hengqin and Macao harbour

On day 3, we ventured across the iconic Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the world’s longest sea bridge spanning 55 km, into Hengqin. Hengqin holds a unique status; it’s widely recognised as the ‘special economic zone’ in China with expectations that it might become the next super city, akin to Shenzhen. This seems likely with its ambitious plans to attract 300,000 people from Macao by 2035.

In Hengqin, 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 startups. These visits highlighted the seamless integration of technology and commerce that drives this region’s rapid growth.

Day 4

Shenzhen: a technological frontier

On day 4, the destination was Shenzhen. Once a humble fishing town, Shenzhen has transformed into a manufacturing powerhouse and is now the innovation hub of China. We visited Tencent, one of China’s leading technology companies, renowned for its flagship product, the super-app WeChat. Next, a visit to the Peking University HSBC Business School provided insights into the entrepreneurial mindset that drives Shenzhen’s rapid growth.

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. Next on the itinerary was 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 the global tech and innovation hub that it is today.

Day 6

Reflecting on business success and future opportunities

BYD's wall of patents.
BYD’s wall of patents

The final day began with a visit to Shenzhen Capital Group Co (SCGC), China’s leading venture capital firm that has invested in many successful startups, several of which have achieved IPOs. This was followed by a visit to DJI, the world leader in drone technology. We toured DJI’s exhibition hall and saw the evolution of their products, from traditional consumer drones to revolutionary applications in agriculture and conservation.

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.

An affirmation of the importance of global diversity in business and education

This journey through China’s Greater Bay Area was a testament to the power of cross-cultural collaboration, business innovation, and exploration. It gave us valuable insights into the region’s rapidly evolving business landscape 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. We returned to Cambridge with 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.