Unknown in Asia | Mays Impacts

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.

Read Part 2 of Unknown in Asia here.


Singapore…the island city-state. The land of heavy regulation, gorgeous views and home of the ~1.5% unemployment rate. This place is amazing, and I don’t want to leave. Just getting off the plane, the ride to the hotel and the hotel have been 180-degree realities of the place we just left. I didn’t know you could take a 2-hour flight and be in an entirely different world. Though Singapore and Indonesia have some similarities: They both have flourishing business districts, tons of people from all over, and everyone is nice.

Everything about Singapore has been great, except for the heat/humidity. I thought I was prepared for it because I’m from Houston, but this is definitely worse. Besides that, Singapore is a melting pot of diversity. Just walking around during my free time, I have seen many different cultures and people. You can be walking in a high-end mall, pop out the other side and be in China Town that fast.

The first night we got to go on a tour of the town with a boat ride on the marina, top deck access at the Marina Bay Sands (the premier hotel, convention center, casino, and mall), and finally the light show at the garden by the bay. Definitely spectacular and memorable. Great way to kick off part 2 of the trip.

On Thursday, we got to meet with Halliburton and M-Daq. Two different companies, a multinational based in Texas and a fin-tech startup about to go IPO. Halliburton took us on a tour of their facility, which was fantastic since I grew up in a machine shop, just not one on this scale. The fact that they do the complete process of CNCing a part to final packaging all in-house is awesome to see. Not only did we see the machine shop, but we also got to see their material testing lab (which is the first time I’ve seen a company with a complete lab since most clients I’ve worked with send their stuff out to be analyzed.) David was a great host and he is so passionate about Halliburton.

After Halliburton, we had a brief detour to a mall and hawker center before heading to M-Daq. M-Daq has to be the smallest company we visited and truly a startup. It was interesting to hear about a foreign exchange problem that I never knew existed. Supposedly retailers and consumers are getting played by banks and credit cards when you buy things in foreign countries because of the exchange rates. M-Daq wants to tackle this by making a platform that overlays on other companies software to provide live data feed of exchange rates so that consumers can purchase things in foreign countries, see the price in their countries currency and fake the transaction as a domestic transaction on both ends so that neither party has to pay the foreign transaction fees. Interesting topic that seems easy to fix but no one is doing it. At the end of the day, we got to network with a few executives in the Singapore area at Level 33. Some we have met before; some we saw again on Friday and some new faces. Everyone was nice and fun to talk to. It’s fascinating to listen to their stories and how they got to Singapore.

On the last day of the trip, we had a non-stop day of activities. My day started out with getting to the venue early with some of my team to get an early start on what is going on to know how to host Microsoft’s very own Richard Koh.

I am a big fan of Microsoft, so it was great to be able to meet him and ask questions about the products and software I use every day. After Richard’s presentation, we got another presentation about PR in Asia by Bill Adams. It was interesting to hear about how public relations works in Southeast Asia and PR stories of various companies. The main thing to remember is to be authentic in your company statements. In the afternoon, we participated in a trash hero cleanup event as our volunteer project.

Trash hero is a non-profit organization that has many outfits around the world. It focuses on cleaning up the environment through trash clean up events in cities. We cleaned up the trash on the beach on the eastern side of Singapore. Volunteering is something that is near and dear to my heart, not just because I am an Aggie, so this was a great event to be a part of and I am glad we did it. We wrapped up the week with a meal at Forlino, an Italian restaurant that overlooks the marina.  This was a great way to finish things off. We got to hang out, talk about the trip and reflect on what we learned. Mike [Alexander] and Dr. Mahajan had great closing speeches for us, as did some of us. My classmate, Kenny, wrapped it up nicely with the fact that there are small ships, big ships…but the best ships of them all are friendships.

We definitely bonded on this trip, more than we have before. These types of trips don’t happen very often, but they seemed to always happen at Texas A&M. Between Fish Camp, Transfer Camp and now the professional MBA international trip, I can truly say that this school is definitely a top tier school. This only happens when you have professors and faculty that truly love what they do and are vested in seeing their students grow. I thank Nyetta Meaux-Drysdale, Mike Alexander, Deb Mann, Dr. Mahajan and anyone else in the decision-making process for giving me this opportunity to be a part of a wonderful program.

Categories: Mays Business, MBA, Students, Unknown in Asia

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.

Read Part I of Unknown in Asia, here


Heading into the unknown of Asia, I think one thing that was also largely unknown was just how long our flight would be – it is the longest flight that I have ever been on and it felt that long, too. One redeeming part of it, though, was the time it allowed me to get up and talk to fellow classmates. On the first leg of the flight I got to spend some time with Mike [Alexander] talking about traveling and I got to hear some of his stories from his time with the Professional MBA program.

We landed in Jakarta and it was an eye-opening experience. There are so many people in this city, traffic is crazy, and there was a blatant disparity in the nice buildings and the poor areas. There was seemingly no in-between. It made me grateful for my life and the opportunities I have at home. We made our way to a welcome dinner where they eased us into local cuisine, and we all fought off jetlag.

Our first full day was spent on a “1000 Islands Tour” where we got to learn a bit about the history of where we were and see some cool, old relics of the colonization of the area. It ended with some beach time, dinner and camaraderie.

Monday, our second day in Jakarta and our first working day, was amazing. We had a chance to grasp the full spectrum of the economy where we were in Jakarta – we learned about everything from the government and business to the slums. It was a very diverse day. We heard from fantastic speakers that addressed startup culture in Indonesia, intangibles as an imperative for success in today’s business world, and how society is going cashless. We were taken on a tour of the slums and it is something that I will never forget. Seeing how the people in the slums live and then meeting all of the kids was really moving. It seems like the only way out of the Indonesian slums is to catch a lucky break, while back home, if you work hard and “demonstrate capabilities,” you can go somewhere. It really makes you think of all those times you complain about something not going right and how insignificant that really is.

Tuesday we visited Javara and Go-Jek while participating in Batik Tuesdays – a new PMBA tradition. A Batik is the button-up shirt of Indonesia that is similar to Hawaiian shirts and can be worn to work. Some of our PMBA group had picked one up after Monday’s festivities and decided to wear them. Javara, the first company that we visited, is all about agriculture and social entrepreneurship. We were able to meet Helianti, the incredibly ambitious backbone of Javara. She showed us a presentation about how Javara is trying to revive the farming culture in Indonesia by creating pride and a sense of ownership in the industry. The way she empowers the farmers to be their own entrepreneurs is amazing. Afterward, we were able to shop all of the organic products that the farmers produce in her store and she treated us to a sustainable/organic meal that was absolutely delicious. The purple bungus tea was the star of the show, which is strange coming from a non-tea drinker. Go-Jek is a for-profit startup that revolves around utilizing technology to make society better. Go-Jek’s offices definitely put out some Silicon Valley feelings. It seemed like organized chaos with how everyone was working, and stuff was thrown on the desks. I would hate to be late to work, since the limited desk space means you are working in one of the many lounge areas. They shared a presentation that gave us insight into the company and how they got started by trying to help out the traffic with a ride share app. Now, they are giving back through Go-Life by training people in different skill sets to help them provide a better life for their families. This is a company that keeps trying to find new challenges to tackle through their services.

Tuesday culminated with an interesting and fantastic “foodie tour.” Our tour guides were patient, understanding and very knowledgeable.  We were taken to 6 food stalls around the Chinatown area of Jakarta.  Each of them had a signature dish or snack that we tried.  Supposedly it is normal for people to come to the area and hop around to get a complete meal.  My favorite was the first stop with the chicken rice dish, though it felt like that was our entire meal because they kept bringing out more and more food.

It was a fascinating few days leaning into the culture and business of Indonesia. There is a rich history, vibrant culture and great people there that I won’t soon forget. Now, onto Singapore!

Read Part I of Unknown in Asia, here

Categories: MBA, Programs, Texas A&M, Unknown in Asia

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.


As a Texas A&M Professional MBA (PMBA) student who has completed their first year of the program, the time has come to tackle the infamous international field trip. The PMBA class of 2020 is going to Indonesia and Singapore to see how business, culture, and people work and live in Southeast Asia. Our class is stepping into the unknown – an international trip with 47 PMBAs from Mays Business School.

The time leading up to the trip has been hectic for me. I have never been out of the country before – I have just lived vicariously through other people’s pictures and videos of their experiences. The stunning photos of foreign countries have always guided my interest in traveling abroad. As an engineer, I am always researching everything I plan to do to the fullest, and this trip has been no exception. I have consulted many people about their experiences and sought advice and tips. Surprisingly, everyone has a different point of view, which is both helpful and problematic. Helpful in that their stories and advice continue to grow my anticipation for the trip. Problematic in the sense that when I’m trying to make decisions, it doesn’t help that everyone’s perspective is different. As with any analysis, I take all the inputs and average them to make a good prediction or decision on the matter. I find that if I keep an open mind and put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything, which includes this trip.

Some of my academic expectations for this trip are…

  • to expand my understanding of the world
  • to experience different cultures
  • to find out how business is conducted in other parts of the world

I can’t wait to put everything that I have heard or read about these locations to the test and see it for myself. This trip may only be one week, but looking at the itinerary, it will definitely be jam-packed. One of the things that I am most looking forward to is hosting Microsoft. Our team was selected to host them, which is truly a treat for me. I am a huge tech nerd, and I have known Microsoft since the first computer I ever used with MS-DOS. To be able to meet some of the folks that work there, even if it isn’t from their Redmond Washington office, will still be a truly remarkable experience.

My nonacademic expectations are…

  • to get to know my classmates better
  • to create better bonds
  • to expand my comfort zone

I feel like I know everyone in the class, though some are just on a, “Hey I am here with you” level. The PMBA program is not only about classroom study, but it’s also about learning from my peers and creating lasting friendships.

I look forward to seeing our cohort out of our element. I suppose that when you take us all out of our element, Houston, that’s when everyone will open up more. It’ll be even easier to get to know everyone. I suppose that being in our comfort zone lets us sneak away too easily, missing the opportunity to truly know one another. On this trip, we won’t have conflicting plans, or work stopping us from getting to campus early – we’ll have a shared agenda and purpose. That shared purpose and agenda, I hope, will create a shared sense of growth and adventure – for me, each of my classmates, and our cohort as a whole. I believe this trip has the potential for us to grow individually and together. A shared purpose and a sense of dependence will lead to deeper knowledge and deeper relationships. I know it will for me. I have no clue what I am doing outside of the U.S., so I will be relying on the collective mindset of the group to find my way through the unknown.

Categories: Center for Business International Studies, Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, Programs, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M, Unknown in Asia