The land of smiles is known for its sunny beaches, magnificent temples, bustling markets, and vibrant nightlife. Yet, beyond the cultural appeal and tourist attractions, the country is also a thriving business hub in Southeast Asia—home to a vast array of global MNCs.

With this in mind, the ESSEC Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB) students chose Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, for the location of their 2022 Study Trip.

This annual business trip brings SMIB students overseas to meet and greet professionals in different companies. Over a week, they attend conferences and have company visits so they may understand how businesses operate in the region and, in turn, acquire the knowledge needed for their own careers.

Insights on A Kaleidoscope of Industries

Aligned with the student’s diverse interests, the 2022 edition of the trip brought students to visit a broad spectrum of companies. These ranged from e-commerce player Acommerce, healthcare leader Roche Thailand, and advertising giant JCDecaux to transport companies ALSTOM and Airbus, as well as Chanel and L’Oreal from the fashion and beauty sectors.

Besides introducing students to work in different industries, representatives from the participating companies also elaborated on how sustainability and inclusivity impact their business to give students an understanding of how other sectors are evolving.

“The highlight for me was definitely the visit to Airbus,” SMIB student Howie Chia, who hopes for a future career in aviation, shares, recalling how Airbus Chief Representative Pierre Andrew brought him and his classmates through a vibrant discussion on ethics and sustainability in the aviation industry.

“He was able to highlight things that were not from his area of expertise, and even opened the floor for discussion with us—I felt it was really eye-opening to go beyond surface-level information to understand how the business functions,” Howie says.

Understanding How to Do Business in Asia

Most importantly, the insights from Airbus, like the presentations from other companies, helped students understand how businesses must adapt to the local customs of the region.

To elaborate further on the impact of culture on business, the study trip also included a visit to Business France. This government agency helps French companies settle into the country.

This introduced students to a brief history of Thailand’s economic development and explained how business practices have evolved.

In addition, there was a trip to the office of the Thai Government Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) for them to learn more about how Thailand intends to attract more foreign direct investment and transform the country into a manufacturing, logistics, transport, and tourism hub in the future.

“it opened my eyes to how businesses are conducted differently in different cultures, which I believe will be useful in my future career,” Howie shares.

Avenues to Network

His classmate, Faith Melgar, concurs, although she feels that her biggest takeaways were from the networking event, which allowed her to speak one-on-one with company representatives and other ESSEC SMIB alumni living in Bangkok.

She shares that her interests lie in sustainability and luxury fashion—although she is still uncertain about the career path to pursue. The networking event was a precious opportunity for her to learn more about the different roles and functions in sectors she is considering and help her find clarity for the future.

Another aspect she appreciated was how the hectic Study Trip schedule added to the “business trip feel” and gave her a glimpse of working life.

“The travel, excitement, the need to think on one’s feet and adapt to situations in real-time—these are all things I experienced during the Study Trip that I believe I will encounter again,” she explains.

To her, the cumulation of traveling to a new country, meeting industry professionals, and simply learning about business in Asia was educational and inspiring. “It has reinforced my desire and determination to work harder as I chase my goals,” she declares.