Spring 2016 Scholarship Award Honorary Mention: Abhishek Nag

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For years, PCB Solutions has been the flexible PCB manufacturer of choice for the electronics industry. Headquartered in Reno, we serve customers all around the United States. We don’t take our job as flex PCB suppliers lightly. We know it’s important that we provide our customers with the best services in the industry. That is why we offer top-of-the-line products and competitive prices. We also pride ourselves on our stellar customer service.

We go beyond our relationship with our customers though, by serving the community as well. In an effort to better serve our community, we offer the annual Chuan Ai Lu Engstrom Memorial Scholarship. This year, we received an amazing number of entries. We are used to fielding PCB quotes and manufacturing circuit boards, but this brought our workload to a new level. Unfortunately, we can only award a single scholarship, but we do want to mention Abhishek Nag for his outstanding essay.

Abhishek has a unique perspective on the global marketplace, especially when it comes to China. While many people view China as a place to get cheap parts for electronics, Abhishek realizes that it has the power to innovate, as long as it can hold on to the millennial generation. If that generation stays in China, the country will become a technological giant. He also understands the need to celebrate the differences between the cultures. While so many people judge people based on accents or skin color, Abhishek has the power to embrace them based on their merits. If he manages to use that unique power in his career, he can become a major player in whatever industry he chooses.

We are excited to see what Abhishek does as he moves forward with his education and career. The world would be better with more people like Abhishek. Whether he joins the ranks as a flexible PCB manufacturer or takes another career path, the world will be a little bit brighter with Abhishek.

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“Why would I want to move to the US?” asked Shiyao with a puzzled look on his face. “The growth is here at home.” Shiyao and I were sitting on a ledge outside the Tsinghua University campus when I asked him if he had any dreams of moving to the US. I was in Beijing as part of the Innovate program – a two week conference in China on technology and globalization. I was one of thirty undergraduate students selected globally to attend the conference that took place across four cities in China – Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou. The goal of the conference was to understand the state of innovation in China, learn how globalization of economies is impacting the world and provide insight into what international business truly is.

Shiyao was a student at Tsinghua, one of China’s premier engineering institutions, and I had a chance to interact with him one-on-one as part of the program. Speaking with him educated me more about China’s growing economy, its strengths, its weaknesses and just Chinese life in general than any book or website ever had. While we in the west tend to believe Chinese citizens are constantly under duress from a repressive government, full of censorship and secrets, I learned from Shiyao that…well…things are actually not bad at all; of course, they have struggles as do people in any country, but he said they don’t feel repressed in day-to-day life as some may think they do. This is why when I asked him whether he had dreams of coming to the US he was puzzled. As an engineer, Shiyao’s passion was technology. He said that while the technology industry in the US had become all but saturated, it was only just gaining momentum in China with a renewed focus on innovation. One of the key takeaways I got from him was that there is a big push to change China’s image in the global economy. He said the world views China as little more than a place to get mechanical tasks done cheaply, especially when it comes to manufacturing. Innovation is not seen as one of China’s strengths. In order

for China to take its economy to the next level, that needs to change. Economies of the world are now tightly interwoven; a rise in price of steel in China can cause prices of consumer goods in the US to skyrocket. However, he thinks China needs to take a more active role in shaping the global economy, and to do that, it must become a powerhouse for innovation. The only way to make that happen, is to retain talent in China and reverse the current issue of brain drain. Brain drain is the phenomenon involving skilled, educated talent leaving their home country in search of greener pastures elsewhere, most often in the west. Millennials in China are realizing this is a huge barrier to China’s economic development. If all the students at institutions like Tsinghua and Peking stayed back in China to drive innovation, there is no doubt China will quickly rise to an even more important position in the global economy. That is Shiyao’s dream.

The Innovate program enabled me to interact with businesses and top tier educational institutions in China and opened my eyes to the future possibilities. I changed my own view of what China is “good at” and “not good at”. I realized that if I had the capacity to work at a global scale with China one day, I would pay heed to their growing innovation capability that is being led by people like Shiyao. While many business leaders in the west will only think of China when it comes time to get a repeatable task done cheaply, I would look to them earlier in the product development cycle. There are millions of brilliant minds there who are hungry for a chance to prove themselves, and foreign investment is exactly what they need. I would invest in the Chinese millennials because I believe it would benefit my business, create value and also help these youngsters realize their dreams.

I have also seen the harm that can come from language and cultural gaps, even in the year 2015. I’ve witnessed people at the consulting firm I work at in the US not take an opinion from someone seriously simply because of the accent and words used to deliver that opinion. I acknowledge that it is simply human nature to do so, but if we take the right steps, we can avoid falling into that trap and fully leverage the ideas and opinions of our international colleagues. This is something Shiyao and I discussed

as well. His father is a brilliant university professor who used to work as a mechanical engineer for firms in the US. There were countless incidents where he was sidelined simply because his western peers were not used to his way of speaking or operating. Shiyao recounted something his father had once told him and it has stayed with me since then. His father had just returned to Beijing from a business trip in Detroit, frustrated, and remarked, “If they only knew how smart I was in Mandarin, they would take my views more seriously.” This is an issue I will also seek to address in an international business. For true equality across the table, it is insufficient and unfair to only have the non-western team members have to learn English and the western way of life. It is equally important for the western team members to learn about their international counterparts’ language, culture and work styles so that a truly common ground can be reached and teammates can have mutual appreciation.

Regardless of what my business would be, I know I would have an edge over others by doing something others often do not: account for the needs, aspirations and vision of my international counterparts while celebrating their unique talents and cultural differences. International business doesn’t have a technology or resource problem; just a human problem. The first ones to understand that and get ahead of it, I think, will truly lead us into the age of the global economy.

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