Chinese business execs eye Swiss innovation

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Leading executives from some of China’s best known companies gathered in Zurich for the annual CEIBS CEO Summit on December 12, an event packed with discussions on leadership, Europe’s macro economy, Swiss innovation and of course the growing globalisation of Chinese companies.

Among the group was Wang Xuning, Chairman of Joyoung Company Limited, the leading home appliance brand in China. He said globalisation, as well as the challenges that come from competing in China’s vibrant e-commerce market, is a major focus for his company now. For Joyoung globalisation means going outwards, getting stronger, then coming back to the China market – and even paving the way for entry by other global players. “We’ve already built a very wide sales network in China so international companies that want to enter China can sell their products, once they are suitable for our local market, through our network,” said Wang.

One sure way to assess potential partners in other countries is through company visits that provide a front row seat to how business is done across a wide range of industries. “We visited a manufacturer that had a fully automated production plant. It was fascinating,” said Founding Partner of MyTech Capital Ltd. John Yu. He was talking about the visits on December 11, which included stops at Geberit International – an MNC that used technology to secure its place among the global leaders of sanitary products such as toilets – and SR Technics, a Swiss Air spinoff that provides technical solutions for airlines worldwide. Both companies received high marks from participants. Many remarked on the Swiss attitude to work: their attention to detail and design – not just functionality.

Participants, most of them entrepreneurs, also enjoyed informal sessions over dinner where they shared their own experiences – in going global, in growing their companies in China – and learned from each others’ best practices.  During the welcome dinner on December 11, President of Shanghai Joint-harvest Electronic Product Co., Ltd Chen Qiang and President of Bestore Yang Hong Chun described their entrepreneurial journey and the current opportunities and challenges they face.

Throughout the Summit there was also an impressive line-up of lecturers and keynote speakers including IMD Professor George Kohlrieser who looked at how to unlock extraordinary performance. There was also an exploration, by UBS Managing Director for Global Asset Allocation Dr. Walter Edelmann, of the challenges and opportunities of Europe’s Macro economy. The discussion on Swiss innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit saw input from R. James Breiding, Founder of Naissance Capital Ltd. and author of Swiss Made - the Untold Story of Switzerland's success. In addition, a discussion on Chinese companies going global was joined by Dr. Philippe G. Pillonel, Chairman of Investment Banking at UBS AG; and Thomas Stenz, Board Member at Capvis Private Equity AG.

The Summit, the largest event at China Europe International Business School’s (CEIBS) Zurich Campus since the Lorange Institute of Business Zurich (LIBZ) was acquired, was also a major milestone in CEIBS’ own internationalisation efforts.

Representatives of CEIBS’ top leadership – Presidents Li Mingjun and Pedro Nueno along with Vice President & Dean Ding Yuan – participated in the Summit, which was seen as a quasi opening of the school’s Zurich Campus.