The last few days in Australia were just as amazing as the first. Our business visits started with AmCham. We had a breakfast meeting with them the day prior and discussed multiple business topics. He quickly reviewed the business and then proceeded to let us discuss business in general with him. Of everything we spoke about he informed us that in Australia the business conversations are much more direct. They get to the point and they talk business without any fluff. I explained to him how I like that strategy and that’s what I utilize in my work ethic. He informed me that it’s not going to work at such basic business levels and you have to know when to be straight forward and when not to.
The next business visit was to IBM, this was more of an open forum. With a very interesting panel of both recent grads and interns as well as a speaker with over 10 years invested in the company. Hearing from all of them was interesting, but what I liked best was seeing the decentralized workplace structure. At the end of our forum there was room for one question and since no one else spoke up I utilized it. One of the forum members had explained that he enjoyed cave climbing so I asked how the work life balance was working at a company as large as IBM. He explained that it wasn’t bad and how he has a 5 year plan much like I do. Others jumped in and explained how you have to leave work at work and one explained how she does her work quick so she can go box afterwards. These are all things I’ve heard and knew but hearing them from people who are successfully implementing them in the workplace was quite interesting.
Our final visit was to KPMG, one of the big four auditing firms. Since I’m currently taking an auditing class I had no interest in visiting an auditing firm, but the people we spoke with mentioned nothing about auditing. Rather they were all data analytics personal. To me it appears that the data analytics utilized the ability of computer software to replace the need for audit personal and I’m assuming this was done to shift the core competencies of the business since with the rising use of blockchain technology, the audit function will be much simpler and easily automated. With this I was exposed to a whole different side of the company than I had expected to see. This visit also followed a more open forum type structure and allowed for a large discussion which was quite interesting. They exemplified how they can utilize data analytics techniques to take information and write programs to replace functions previously served by employees allowing for much more productivity from fewer employees. Overall this made me very excited for my data analytics degree next year and increased my curiosity in blockchain a little bit more.
On Wednesday night we visited a couple of secret bars in Sydney. While expensive, they were interesting and had a wide variety of drinks, each having its own standout beverages. At one of the bars I started talking with a bar tender who was planning on returning to school to pursue his MBA. We discussed the differences in cost in each country with Australia being much more expensive. The cost for a reputable MBA was about $150,000 Australian dollars, and financial aid, merit scholarships included, would only bring the costs down to about $90,000. We also discussed how both countries suffer from excessive welfare abuse.
The next morning, we got a late start to go try surfing. We finally left for the beach around noon. We got to Bondi and the surf shop and they said it was not a good day for beginners but after some convincing they let us rent anyways. We struggled for 2 hours to figure it out. The others gave up, returned a board and left and I stayed for another 2 hours. I didn’t do amazing, but I did finally stand up a few times, even if only for a few feet. I finished my training after getting stung by jellyfish in both the hand and my back. I decided to ride one more wave in, but upon catching the wave tried standing up only to get stung once more in the knee, flopping to the board and floating it in.
After the beach I met up with some people and we found a Mexican restaurant similar to Chipotle. They made a really good burrito. We then went home and after a long day, passed out. The next morning myself and one other student went surfing again only for me to realize that my chest and stomach had been torn apart by the board, understanding why they recommend wetsuits.
After trying for an hour or so to conquer the pain, we took off to go to Paddy’s Market. I purchased a boomerang that claimed to be authentic and Aboriginal made, but I really doubt it, and a few other souvenirs.
After the market, a few of us went to a Rugby game. None of us had any clue what was going on, but it was cool to watch a sporting event in the stadium we’d toured earlier that week. On our way back we grabbed some food for the morning, packed our bags, and turned in for the night.
The cultural differences after being exposed to our business meetings appeared to be that Australians are less hierarchical than the US or Thailand, but they are also more relaxed than the US. I thought this to be a benefit but as we left the beach on Friday we met a man named Mark who tried to coach us through some muscle-ups. He explained how he owns a company in LA but spends the winters in Australia to escape the cold. He explained that in Australia the culture on Fridays is that people will not start projects until Mondays, whereas in America they’ll be started immediately. He also explained how Christmas is the silly season there where some people will grab a drink at lunch and just not come back until the next morning. Due to this, many meetings during this time will be scheduled months down the line. Mark found this too slow paced and bothersome, opening our eyes to things we won’t see from business visits, but that we will only experience upon actually working in a country.
Overall this trip was very amazing and eye opening. From standing on the 65th floor of a hotel at a rooftop bar overlooking Bangkok, to walking elephants in a Thai rehabilitation sanctuary, bungee jumping 6 times in Singapore and getting stung by jellyfish while learning to surf on Bondi Beach. These have been two of the most exciting weeks of my life and have reinforced the excitement I’ve had to travel and see this world!