Seoul Business Trip

"Fashion- and technology-forward but also deeply traditional, this dynamic city mashes up temples, palaces, cutting-edge design and mountain trails, all to a nonstop K-Pop beat. Welcome to Seoul.[1] Yes, Seoul was this year's Business Trip location! This huge city located in South-Korea offered some interesting business visits, while simultaneously offering a compelling cultural programme.

We first interviewed Christiaan van den Berg, who is part of the Business Trip Committee. Together with Charlotte van der Heide, Marieke van Brussel, Dennis Beemsterboer and Anke Clerx, he organised the trip to Seoul.

What exactly is the FAECTOR Business Trip?

The Business Trip is the perfect opportunity for students (second year or higher) to work on their network and gain insights in how businesses work, while simultaneously take the role of a tourist in a huge international city. Moreover, one can experience the different culture present in this city, which is very exciting!

Why did you choose to go to Seoul?

First of all, there are many multinationals located in this city, so there were plenty of opportunities for company visits. Furthermore, the culture shock is immense! The flight, however, was quite long, but I think every single one of the participants thought it was worth it.

We tried to incorporate all the different branches within the field of econometrics to make the Business Trip as diverse as possible.

You stated that many multinationals are located in Seoul. Was it difficult, though, to find companies who were willing to receive the group?

It was very difficult, indeed! We contacted most of the companies via their Dutch establishments, whereafter we had to call the Korean establishments as well. We had to make the calls very early in the morning, as they live in a different zone (GMT+9). Eventually, after all the hard work, we found a total of 11 partners, of which 7 were located in Seoul (University of Seoul, Blocko, EY, Samsung and the Dutch embassy), and 4 in the Netherlands (Accenture, IQVIA, Milliman and ING). We tried to incorporate all the different branches within the field of econometrics to make the Business Trip as diverse as possible.

Were there things that did not go as planned?

On Friday, we went to visit the border with North-Korea. Due to circumstances, we had to change up our programme. We still visited the border, but this made us all realise that historic changes are still happening there.

What did you like the most about organising the Business Trip?

The daily programmes were definitely the most fun to work on! The destination of Seoul was agreed upon in November, which allowed us to search for interesting companies to visit and to figure out how in heaven's name to get to our destinations within Seoul by metro! It was quite demotivating to get rejected by many companies because the person on the phone did not speak English, but, in turn, this created a fun challenge: How do we get these companies to collaborate with us?

Next, we talked to Carla Dausend, the only second-year student that was selected to go on the Business Trip!

What were the main differences in mindset between Dutch and Korean companies?

Of course, the Dutch culture is so different from the Korean culture. One of the main aspects of these differences is the importance of hierarchy. The younger employees have a lot of respect towards the older employees, who often work in higher positions. The younger ones never say no, work a lot and only leave the office when their boss has already left.

The city definitely offers a lot of potential!

Do you think you will be working in Seoul in the future?

I think the city definitely offers a lot of potential. You would be able to learn a lot about the Korean culture, as you need to try to fit in. I think this skill of adjusting to a new culture will benefit your future career. Personally, I could see myself working there for a couple of months or a year. Yet, the country, and its culture, people, food, and language are all so much different than that I am used to.

Were the companies you visited all econometric-oriented companies?

The companies we visited all offered positions for econometricians, but they weren't focused on it. Of course, they also need other people specializing in other fields. For example, Blocko is a block chain company and they need a lot of computer specialists, while the Dutch embassy, in turn, needs more political and economics experts. In most firms you need people from multiple sectors to achieve the best overall outcome, which makes it also interesting to work together, because you can keep on improving your knowledge about different fields than only econometrics.

Did you do some sightseeing in Seoul?

Of course! For instance, we visited some old palaces, and an old village with traditional Korean houses. One day, we did a five-hour hike to the top of the Bukhansan mountain. Furthermore, we visited a lot of street markets, we did a bike tour next to the river and we enjoyed the 360-degree view on the Namsan Tower.

What did you think of the entire trip as a whole?

The Business Trip Committee did a great job organising the trip. They found a perfect balance between company visits and cultural activities. The group got along very well, we did a lot together and we made the best out of every situation! Furthermore, I feel like we have seen many different sides of Seoul within this week. All in all, it was a huge opportunity, and I would advise everyone to apply next year. Thanks to the committee and to FAECTOR for organising this trip!

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About this article

Written by:
  • Carlijn Otto
  • Louise ten Harmsen van der Beek
  • Rick Kessels
| Published on: May 15, 2018