ABC delegates conclude engaging visit to East Asia

Delegates in the Asia Business and Culture Program take time out to pose for a photo during a stop in Japan. The monthlong immersion program is designed to give Saudi Aramcons an intensive introduction to Asian culture and business, preparing them to be effective communicators, managers and negotiators in the vital business environment in Asia. The stops included Japan, South Korea and China.

A group of 18 selected Saudi Aramco employees kicked off a monthlong visit of East Asia in China, Japan and South Korea. 

The visit came after a two-day orientation Oct. 14 and 15 in Dhahran, where participants were introduced to Saudi Aramco’s Asia business strategy, history, cultural values, business practices and protocol within each host country.The 2014 Asia Business and Culture Program (ABC), an intensive and experiential introduction to Asian culture and business environment, is designed to help prepare Saudi Aramco leaders to be effective communicators, managers and negotiators in the vital business environment in Asia.

Its goal is to deepen knowledge of the Asia business culture for future Saudi Aramco leaders. Understanding the implication of culture on the business in those nations will bridge the cultural gaps that impact the business relations between Saudi Aramco and our partners and suppliers in the region.

The program, jointly developed by Management and Professional Development Department (M&PDD) and Aramco Asia, took them to Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai and Xiamen — the five most dynamic business and culture centers in East Asia at this time. Participants attended presentations on various cultural and business topics, visited historic heritage sites, met with customers to learn about their business portfolios and exchanged views.

The participants were given a first hand experience to explore the Asian landscape from business, cultural and social perspectives. As communicated by several participants, such an engaging experience has definitely sharpened their understanding of Asia, which is considered of paramount importance to the business of Saudi Aramco and world’s economy.

“I see the Asia Business and Culture program as an onboarding initiative. The participants who take part in the program will have a better understanding of the challenges, opportunities and cultural nuances and how to more effectively approach them. In all of my research, I have not come across any other companies that provide the level of intensive and ‘on the ground’ experience that Saudi Aramco provides,” noted Daniel R. Wilson, facilitator of the ABC program.

From Oct. 18-23, the delegation visited leading companies and R&D centers such as Sumitomo Chemical, Toray and Panasonic, as well as cultural and facilities in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. Aramco Japan organized several lectures, including a unique panel discussion amongst Japan’s leading artists, journalists and one of the most prominent entrepreneurs to give the participants a firsthand opportunity to learn as much as they could from different points of views on Japan, both pros and cons.

In South Korea from Oct. 23-28, the team gained comprehensive insights about the nation’s energy sector, future direction and government policy from local experts. On the industry front, the delegation had an excursion to the Samsung Innovative Museum, where they experienced South Korea’s benchmarking company, Samsung Electronics’ modern, future and past technology, as well as the growth path of the nation’s electronic industry.

The delegation kicked off its China visit upon arrival Oct. 31 in Beijing. The delegation, apart from attending informative seminars and learning sessions, traveled to Tianjin via bullet train (to visit Tianjin Pipeline, a strategic supplierfor Saudi Aramco), visited the Great Wall in Beijing, City Wall Park and Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an, explored the history, culture and business environment in Shanghai and Xiamen, experienced the chemical business, and visited the FREP site and a company-branded gas station in Xiamen.

“We have explored the Asian ‘center of gravity’ that accommodates more than one fifth of the world’s population. We have dived deeply into the Asian culture and explored the risks and opportunities surrounding potential growth for the company. And, we have developed an understanding that building strong partnerships in this tremendously important market will help the company achieve its ambitious strategic intent,” said Abdulrahman Y. Thukair, a member of the ABC delegation.

From the tour, participants gained a firsthand understanding of Asian culture, the region’s way of doing business, and importantly, how these business and culture impact their business practices and decisions with East Asian partners.