By Charmaine N Clarke & Lukas Tonetto
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 vibrant lectures and discussions on leadership, Europe’s macro economy, Swiss innovation and of course the growing globalisation of Chinese companies.
The Summit, the largest event at 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 event, which was seen as a quasi opening of CEIBS’ European base.
European President Pedro Nueno and Dean Ding Yuan
Chinese President Li Mingjun
The Summit and the activities that revolved around it meant that from December 11 to 14, sixty business leaders – a combination of CEO programme graduates and current members of the Executive Education’s LCP class – participated in a range of activities that showed the strength of the CEIBS network and the high regard with which China’s business executives hold a CEIBS degree. Many were in Zurich for a refresher course that can help them remain industry leaders within China as they eye the international market.
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. On December 11, there were 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.
Dr Walter Edelmann, Global Investment Strategy Director, USB Wealth Management
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, the 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.
Professors George Kohlrieser and Jack Wood
Among the CEIBS faculty who also attended and participated were CEIBS Associate Dean for Europe Professor Katherine Xin, Professors Oliver Rui, George Yip and Jack Wood, Executive Director of CEIBS Global Initiative Annette Nijs, along with staff from CEIBS’ Foundation, Executive Education, Translation and Marketing & Communications departments. There was also strong support from the local team, headed by LIBZ Honorary President Peter Lorange and CEO Philipp Boksberger.
Selfies were popular throughout the day
Wang Xuning (CEO 2010), Chairman of Joyoung Company Limited
It’s very important for CEIBS to have this campus in Europe. It’s a major transformation point for CEIBS so that it may be able to enter the European market, and I’m really looking forward to that. I also hope this new campus in Switzerland can help my company Joyoung to expand its market in Europe.
The Internet is one of the challenges we are facing now. It’s so influential; so all companies have to transform themselves to face this challenge. So we are trying to connect with our customers in terms of marketing and also in terms of product design. For example, intelligent products will be a very good way to connect with our customers.
The other challenge is globalisation. What I mean by globalisation is going out and coming back. We have already built a very wide sales network in China so any products, as long as they are suitable for the Chinese consumer, can be sold to the Chinese customer through our network.”
Fei Jianming, Founder of Eoplly New Energy Technology Co Ltd & Hailin Group
Now we are going through a period of transformation and what I learned from the summit is that I need to have globalised allocation of resources. As a Chinese company, we should not only work in the Chinese market but we should also build a global resource allocation system for the benefit of the company.
The second inspiration I got from this summit is that in order to achieve globalisation, mergers and acquisitions, reconstruction is a very good approach. It will help us achieve globalisation targets much faster. The third inspiration is that if we want to build a sustainable business, we need to build a global ecological system around our business. These three inspirations are very helpful to me.
In today’s world there is no way you can do everything by yourself. So Chinese companies, and also foreign companies, really need to work together in order to win the market. I think localisation of global business will be the right approach to this collaboration.”
Zhang Jianglin , Chairman and President ERLINYOU Corporation Limited
The fantastic thing about the Summit is that here we are all on the same level, regardless of our positions or seniority. I did an EMBA but here I have the opportunity to meet other EMBAs from different classes. I also get to meet people from other CEIBS programmes. We all provide each other with many valuable insights. The difference between going to school and going on a study tour is that at school the focus is on books, but on a study tour we get first-hand information as we meet people face to face.”
Xin Hongbo , VP of Dongcheng Biochemicals Co Ltd
By attending this summit I am able to get a much better understanding of the current global economy. Second, I think it will also help expand my own horizons; and third, it’s a very good opportunity for us to sit down together to discuss the challenges in China and also in Europe now. Those are the main reasons.
I think this is very good for my company, as it will help us explore the European market in the future. I hope I can learn something that I can take back and apply to my work, something that will help me do our mergers and acquisitions in the future.
John Yu, Founding Partner of MyTech Capital Ltd (CEIBS EMBA 2012)
I’m at this Summit because it’s important to gain a different perspective. We must understand our economy in a global context, and CEIBS can help us do this.
Second, Europe is important for us as we are looking for entrepreneurship opportunities in manufacturing. We must acknowledge that because we are from different cultures we also have different perspectives on what the future holds. Silicon Valley is “digital“ by DNA. Europe has this tradition of precision
manufacturing. Together, the US, Europe, China we build a triangle. And let’s not forget: if we want to be a first mover in China, we must be present in other parts of the world.
The third and last reason I’m here is: we are looking for more opportunities. This helps us in finding more Chinese investors. With business opportunities overseas we have a chance of diversifying our portfolio with different currencies such as the US dollar, the euro and the Swiss franc.”
Zhang Xiangdong, President & CEO Beijing Organic and Beyond
I’m here at the CEIBS CEO Summit because it’s a chance to see my friends.
The second reason is all about culture. It’s so important for today’s globalisation. Coming here to Switzerland for me is a cultural opportunity, a cultural event, a way for me to experience a different culture.
The third reason is that my company is a food company. When we talk about globalisation it’s not only about our minds; our stomach has to become globalised as well. We Chinese are sometimes too conservative about trying different foods. We should take more risk in this regard. We should try different food from different countries.
The last reason I’m here is that this is the CEIBS Campus in Switzerland so I wanted to come and see for myself, to breathe the fresh air, to see the mountains, to see the water, to enjoy it all.”