In the words of St Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” This summer, I got the chance to read a new page through Bizad Abroad 2015.
Bizad Abroad is an annual student-led initiative by NUS Business Club, which aims to raise awareness of doing business in a foreign environment and increase cultural appreciation. This is the first time that Bizad Abroad has ventured outside of Asia, to a land that sits on two continents – Istanbul, Turkey. And I couldn’t pass up such an opportunity.
Istanbul was an eye-opener, a hidden gem and a feast for the eyes. Here are a few highlights of what I learned:
The Art of Doing Business In Turkey
Through lectures and presentations at our partner universities – Sabanci University and Koc University – we realised that we need to adopt a different approach when it comes to doing business in Turkey.
At Sabanci University, Prof Aziz gave a lecture on the Turkish Business Environment and shared with us his expertise on Corporations, Acquisitions and Mergers. Did you know that Turkish businesses operate solely on trust? Businesses place great importance on building relationships mainly because Turkey has a slow judicial system.
At Koc University, we were treated to an intellectual feast with presentations by its faculty, including a professor who formed part of the team that kick-started the HSBC Turkish branch. We learnt that in Turkey, businesses prefer dealing with locals, so it is best to get the help of a local in any business dealings.
With An Innovative Approach, The Sky’s The Limit
Turkey has become modern and kept up with the times. We witnessed this from our visits and interactions with the Singapore Embassy in Ankara, Turkish Airlines and Turkish Do & Co. As the largest airline in Europe, Turkish Airlines has an impressive fleet size of over 290 and an ambition to continue its rapid growth for the next decade. We were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sitting in a mock-up simulator of one of their Airbus models, and got a taste of how it feels like to be in an emergency on a plane!
At Turkish Do & Co., a food catering company that caters food for international airlines, we got the chance to observe the production process for 200,000 meals served on-board and watch the operations team in action.
Learning Is Fun When We Engage All Our Senses
It is hard not to speak in superlatives when describing the sights of Istanbul: the unique dome structure of the Hagia Sophia that would be impossible to construct by today’s architectural standards; the Blue Mosque built by the Ottoman sultans; and the grand palaces built by the Ottomans and Byzantines.
We had a ferry all to ourselves when we sailed the Bhosphorus Straits, and had the opportunity to look at the city as the sailors would have seen it centuries ago. Here we saw the remains of the city walls, as well as the modern cafes and traditional fish restaurants by the shore.
Cities have been the birthplace of norms, values, art and central to the growth of any civilization. Having the opportunity to see a scenic city that was once home to civilizations of the past, hear its imperial past, smell its ancient land and feel its life through its people, I must say that Bizad Abroad has allowed me to understand what it means to learn beyond the classroom. Discovering how people think, live and do business in a foreign land teaches us a lot about what we can do back at home, be it now, or in the future as we enter the commercial world. The internet has indeed made the world smaller but without seeing the world itself, we often do not know a lot.
To all Bizaders out there, I strongly recommend that you go on such a trip at least once during your university life. Bon Voyage!
The contributor, H Ahamed Marzouq is a first-year undergraduate student of NUS Business School. As part of the 28th NUS Business Club Management Committee, he was also the head of the organising committee for Bizad Abroad 2015. His ‘perfect’ day, consists of a good book, some coffee and some laughter. To learn more about his Bizader life, drop him a note at email@example.com
Interested in our NUS BBA programme? Click here.