Our last company visit started in the early morning. A one our coach drive took us to our last destination Jakob Rope Systems. At the entrance of the production plant the CEO and member of the founder family Peter Jakob warmly welcomed the project team and delegation to their facility. Jakob Rope Systems is an international Swiss company which was founded in 1904 and is currently active in more than 50 countries. Peter Jakob took us back in time where the company history started. After producing rope systems on a handmade basis, the company always strived to find a good mix between automatization and handmade production. Peter Jakob provided us with very interesting insights into projects where the ropes currently are or were utilized in the past. Industries like zoo, suicide prevention, greening of buildings and many other areas are booming the last couple of years, especially in Vietnam. This is the reason why the management of Jakob Rope System decided to move out of their old production plant in order to have more capacity to grow in the future. After a very interesting morning at the facility of Jakob Rope Systems, Peter Jakob invited us for lunch at a marvelous golf resort close to the production plant. In the afternoon Peter Jakob offered us the opportunity to visit their new plant which is still under construction. It was very interesting to see how the modern architecture in Vietnam looks like and how their own products are used to improve energy efficiency. The use of renewable energy such as solar panels will allow the company to produce energy in a more sustainable way. With the use of the solar panels, Jakob Rope System will be able to cover more than 100% of the energy which is needed from a production point of view. After a very interesting day full of valuable insights, the project delegation made its way back to the hotel to explore Ho Chi Minh City further by night.
Today we met early in the morning to fly to our last destination of the onsite seminar. After a two-hour flight we arrived in hot and vibrant Ho Chi Minh City. We had a short break at the hotel to check in and rest or explore the city before we travelled to the KOTO cooking class restaurant. KOTO is a non profit organisation founded by an Australian with the purpose to help at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam through hospitality training programmes. We were warmly welcomed by the KOTO team and had a short introduction on what they are doing. Then, we visited a local market where a chef from the KOTO team showed us some local products. Afterwards, the cooking class started. Our goal was to prepare and cook three local dishes form the north of Vietnam. First, we prepared fresh spring rolls with pork and prawn which were quite tricky to roll perfectly. The next dish was a fresh papaya salad with spicy beef jerky. At last, we marinated pork with fragrant herbs and spices which was served with noodles and a dipping sauce. To have the chance to cook this menu at home, the delegation received a recipe book with detailed descriptions. Overall, we were provided with interesting insights into the Vietnamese cuisine and useful cooking tips. After eating our delicious self-cooked meals, we went back to the hotel full and happy.
After the free weekend, on which the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, could be explored, the company visits started again on Monday, April 8th. In the morning we were welcomed by ABB Vietnam. The company presentation gave us an insight into the 26 years lasting history of the technology company with locations in Bac Ninh, Da Nang, Hanoi & HCMC. They also shared their future forecasts & expectations regarding industry 4.0 & digitization of the Vietnamese market. ABB is entering into various partnerships to exploit synergies. These include among others Microsoft and IBM. The tour continued with a visit of three different production lines of high voltage components. After lunch in the ABB canteen we drove with our car back to Hanoi to the renowned Foreign Trade University (FTU), where we were welcomed by the International Business Club. The students presented facts about the ASEAN marketplace and the history of the university founded in 1960 and their business club. We were also introduced to the political and economic situation in Vietnam and its educational system. Finally, we were presented with their views on the opportunities for market entry in Vietnam and the opportunities when doing business in Vietnam. After the exciting presentations we discussed the different topics intensively. In the evening at the hotel our project team organized a surprise for our on-site manager Kevin to celebrate his birthday together with him. There was Vietnamese chicken rice cake and cold beer.
The first day in Vietnam started quite early. We met each other at 7:45 and had a two-hour journey to Trang An, one of the most beautiful and attractive karsts in Vietnam. Our first stop was the citadel Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh. We had a tour leader who provided us on the coach as well as during the whole day with interesting facts about the history of Vietnam. Hoa Lu used to be the capital of Vietnam. It was a natural geographic choice because of the limestone mountains keeping the city well-hidden from potential invaders. It lies 90 km south of Hanoi. Hoa Lu is a beautiful ancient city that was the economic and political center of Dai Co Viet during the 10th and 11th centuries. The next stop was a restaurant where we enjoyed typical Vietnamese food. After lunch we did an amazing boat tour on wild streams through limestone caves. The delegation had also the chance to paddle by themselves and did a few boot races with other boats. We also had the opportunity to just relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery after the first tiring week in ASEAN. After the boat tour we walked through the Aboriginal village where the reboot version of King Kong – “Kong: Skull Island” was shot. On the coach back to Hanoi we could relax again and reflect this stunning day. In the evening the delegation went out again to get some delicious food and discovered Hanoi by night.
On Thursday morning, we met at 8 a.m. in the hotel lobby and took the bus to the Panalpina logistics center, which is a little bit outside of the city.
There, Edwin Wan, the Country Head of Logistics Singapore and Malaysia held a presentation for us about Panalpina’s business and showed us around the newly built center. Panalpina is a Swiss logistics company with over 500 offices in 70 countries and partner companies in further 100 countries. Their core business includes Air Freight, Ocean Freight, Logistics and Manufacturing, and Energy and Project Solutions. Singapore is the ideal location for such a logistic center as it is the economic gateway between the East and the West and is a crucial stop for the world’s most important trade routes. It owns the world’s largest transshipment port and enables easy access to many southeast-Asian countries.
Panalpina’s new warehouse was finished in 2018 and has six floors, who cover over 27’000 square meters. Organizing a multi-story logistic center brings its own challenges, as the weight of the goods has to be taken into consideration, as well as the order of how the containers are going to be loaded. Additionally, dangerous goods, such as flammable, toxic, and radiological goods, have to be stored on the ground floor so that rescue teams have easy access in case of an emergency.
After the tour around the facility we were kindly offered lunch by Panalpina and then left for our next company visit.
In the afternoon we had the chance to visit the Google office in Singapore. We were warmly welcomed by young passionate engineers to show us around. From them we learnt that the office in Singapore is really busy. Employees are allowed to bring as much visitors as they want and show them along. Therefore, many people visit each day. Google offers plenty of activities to relax the mind. They offer a variation of rooms with different features. An example for this is a billiard/play room or a music room where instruments are provided to make music together. Furthermore, Google in Singapore has a TGIF mentality. This means on Fridays there are several activities close to their in-house bar like playing board games with each other. Later on we had the pleasure to gain more insights thanks to the chief of staff, Wiwi Goh and the interaction designer, Karen Zhang. With 2500 employees Google Singapore is operated across 16 floors in three different buildings. The main task of the google office in Singapore is to analyse the users in their region and build a valuable customer experience. One of their insights is that that those users in those regions are mostly mobile and their prediction is that in the future they will have mobile users only. Therefore, their goal is to restructure their applications and platforms in a manner that it is user-friendly on mobile devices. Google sees the importance behind having access to the internet. They realized that a part of the gap in education can be resolved by providing access to the internet. To grant access to a bigger community they started a program for free WiFi in India that provides high-speed internet on 400 train stations all over India. The project is called Google station and is also planned in the Philippines, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia. Google expects that the internet will be used by 5 Billion users by 2025.
The first company visit in Singapore led us to Straumann, where Philipp Nueesch, Head Digital Business unit APAC, presented the products and services of the Straumann Group, which range from dental implants and training for dentists to the production of models using 3D-printers. The presentation took place at the T32 Dental Centre, which treats many customers from other countries. Due to its high level of education and excellent infrastructure, Singapore is an ideal location for such a medical centre. In connection with this year's exploreASEAN topic "Coopetition”, Philipp Nueesch pointed out how Straumann dealt with this subject: In input services, for example, the Straumann Group lagged behind its competitor 3shape. Straumann’s solution was to negotiate a distribution deal and thus cooperate in this area with 3shape, while they compete in other fields, such as input processing (CAD software). After the exciting and instructive presentation, especially with regard to coopetition in ASEAN, we were able to visit the T32 laboratory - which is by the way an allusion to the 32 teeth in the human mouth. For lunch we were invited to a delicious buffet at the Hotel Jen before we took the bus to Credit Suisse.
In the afternoon, Urs Brudermann, Team Leader PB Thailand SG, welcomed us at Credit Suisse and described the bank’s structure and progress in Asia. His colleague introduced us then to the world of impact investment, where Investors are not mainly concerned with generating the highest possible return, but also with "doing something good for the world" and supporting environmentally friendly measures. Coopetition is also an issue at Credit Suisse, for example the bank head to invest in competitors such as the widespread App Go-Jek, focusing on Go-Med (end-to-end health platform). With many new insights, the exploreASEAN delegation made its way back to the hotel to explore and enjoy the city further in the evening.
The 5th day, the last day in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, started with a sunny weather. After packing all our luggage and checking out the hotel, we went to visit Go-Jek. Wearing business casual, it took about one hour to reach the destination by coach. Unfortunately one of the speakers could not make it in time, however we were instructed by some young, mindful employees to visit the headquarter of Go-Jek. Go-Jek stands for the best and most efficient local enterprises, which provides a lot of functional application, such as Go-ride, Go-food, Go-Med and so on. Furthermore, Go-Pay, is one of the most applicable tools, which is invented to help local and also create more adding-value for Go-Jek. Because there are a huge number of residences which do not have any bank accounts, the application is conveniently used on smartphones.
Adding to our trip, after almost a decade when Go-Jek was born, the working place is increasing from 2 floors to 4. Additionally, Go-Jek’s working conditions resemble the one of Google. The working time is flexible, which means employees can work wherever and whenever they want. The workforce is young and comes from many religions and races, which fits to the condition “work fast, innovatively and spiritually”. The working condition is colorful, fascinating and enables to accelerate innovation. Examples of those conditions include Go-Gym, playing-game stations, bedrooms, coffee-shop and so on.
After 2 hours visiting the Go-Jek’s headquarters, we drove to the airport. Fortunately, there was not too much traffic at that time and it took about an hour to reach the airport. We were quite tired because it took a lot of time to check-in the flight under the hot conditions. After 3.15 p.m. (GMT+7), we flew to the beautiful and modern country – Singapore with one and half hours. While it was not a good take-off with bad weather, it was a good landing in Singapore. We had time for enjoying and recovering for the next days.
The 4th day in Indonesia's capital Jakarta began with a visit to the Swiss Embassy. In the business outfit we drove through the congested streets of Jakarta and reached our destination over-punctually. It was an honor to be received by the ambassador of Switzerland in Indonesia, Mr. Kurt Kunz. The ambassador and the Deputy of the ambassador, Mr. Michael Cottier, presented the political and economic relationship between Switzerland and Indonesia. They emphasized the importance of different bilateral aspects such as cooperation, education, fair trade agreements and the dialogue on human rights. The charismatic talk by Ms. Hanum Yahya gave us an important insight into Indonesia's healthcare system and the strategies, opportunities and challenges that Novartis Indonesia has. The presentations by the Swiss Business Hub and Swiss Chamber Indonesia provided further exciting and beneficial information about which companies and how business relationships are being conducted in Indonesia.
We ended this very instructive and honorable morning with a delicious Indian lunch in "The Royal Kitchen".
In the afternoon we visited the Eijkman Institute, which is specialized in the research of infectious diseases such as Malaria and Dengue fever. After a friendly reception and presentation of the institute by Dr. med. Safarina Malik (also affectionately called "Mommy") we had the opportunity to get a tour through the prestigious Eijkman Institute. With many interesting and new impressions, the exploreASEAN delegation took the bus back on its ways to the hotel. The day ended as it began: in the dense traffic of Jakarta!
Our day started early today. The meeting point was in the hotel lobby at 5:45. The whole delegation was still tired and exhausted because of the jetlag, but nevertheless, excited about exploring Bandung. As we have already experienced the traffic jam in Jakarta, it took us about 5h to Bandung. First place on the tour was the Bandung Institute of Technology. After a heartwarming and welcoming introduction to the institute, we have been served lunch by the students, exchange student and lecturers. We had the chance to get to know local students and to chat with them.
Batik Kumar was our second stop. Unfortunately, we had no chance to visit the Batik workshop, but the public relations responsible showed us around the company and introduced us to all of the processes while Batik is fabricated. It was really entertaining to see how much time and effort behind the production of Batik lies. Since the time was running and the program was really tight, we did not spend a lot of time at Batik Kumar. Our last activity in Bandung should have been the exploration of the city in small groups. In meanwhile, the weather got really bad and it started raining heavily. Because of that, we were not able to visit the city and therefore, decided to drive back to Jakarta. While heading back, we stopped at a very local restaurant between Bandung and Jakarta for dinner. We got to know the local kitchen and their eating behavior which is quite different from ours. After a long day with several different experiences we arrived tired but full of new experiences at the hotel.
Our trip to the ASEAN region started on the 28th of March. We all grouped together early morning at the Zurich airport. The journey to Jakarta was a very long and tiring one. It took us approximately 12 hours to reach Singapore. In this long time, we had the chance to get to know each other. The transit time was 3 hours at the Singapore Airport and then we had the next flight to Jakarta. After reaching Jakarta we were taken to the beautiful hotel Four Points by Sheraton, which is located in the city center. We had a small break to freshen ourselves up and then we got ready for the company visit to PT Koltiva on the same day. There was a lot of traffic, therefore, we were able to sleep in the bus for 2,5 hours after a long and tiring journey. PT Koltiva is an integrated agriculture technology and service company delivering tailor-made sustainability project management and product traceability software applications. They also showed us their web and mobile applications including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resources Management (ERP) and Supply Chain. Their customers strive to improve smallholder farmers and small enterprises livelihoods. They also offered us fresh and delicious fruits like Rambutan, Snake Fruit, Guava, Orange and Star fruit. These are typical fruits in Indonesia. It was a really wonderful and informative, as well as productive company visit in PT Koltiva.