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Monday, May 14, 2018

Eduardo Garin: Globalising Xiaomi’s Gadgets

Eduardo tells MBA Admissions about his favourite Xiaomi gadget, the difference between Chinese and Spanish office cultures and his views on CEIBS’ role in preparing the next generation of alumni to make an impact between China and Europe. This is part of a series of alumni stories to highlight the role CEIBS has played, and will continue to play in the years ahead, as a role model of effective China-EU cooperation, a platform to further enhance China-EU communication and cooperation – both in business and culture – along with providing a window into China's reform and opening up in the education sector.

May 14, 2018. Beijing –“For China to become the world’s innovation powerhouse, it needs to be able to optimise its products for different global markets – that's the next frontier!” says Director of Product Globalization at Xiaomi Technology, Eduardo Garin, a CEIBS MBA 2014 alumnus. “With Chinese companies continuing to make serious inroads into Europe, any strategic partnership – for example the 15-year-old China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership – that helps them strengthen their localization efforts can only be a good thing.” 

He should know. He works from Xiaomi’s Beijing HQ and, with the exception of the smartphone, he’s responsible for globalisation of every product made by the Chinese electronics and software company. This means a growing number of cool gadgets pass through Eduardo’s desk on a weekly basis.  “My favourite at the moment is our Mi AI Speaker, which I can talk to and use to control other smart devices at home. I can also ask it to play whatever music I am in the mood for,” he says.  “It’s also a fun way to practice my Chinese!  If it understands my request, then I pat myself on the back and celebrate a job well done in my pronunciation and tones.”

Eduardo’s fascination with Mandarin began long before he first set foot in China. Back in Madrid in 2011, when he was working as an R&D Project Manager at InfoGlobal, he studied Mandarin in the evenings and began reading more and more about China in the newspapers.  It was about that time that CEIBS first made its way onto his radar. “Coming from a purely technical background, I knew an MBA would help to fill a lot of gaps in my knowledge. I was excited to be a part of China’s development, so I enrolled at CEIBS,” he says.

What he wasn't prepared for was the big role the country would play in his life. “In China the thing that no one prepares you for is how quickly the environment around you develops – the pace of change is incredible. Funnily enough, I would also say that the same is true for my life here.  Since graduating from CEIBS I have been fortunate to work for two of China’s globalizing champions, Haier and Xiaomi. But, more importantly, I married my MBA classmate Layne Liao and we welcomed our son into the world last year.”

Life at Xiaomi

Now making headlines across Asia for their upcoming IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange, Xiaomi are most famous in smartphone circles for their slogan ‘Let everyone in the world enjoy the beautiful life brought by technology’. Eduardo maintains he is just as much in the dark as everyone else on the exciting future ahead for the post-IPO company, but he has his own take on its slogan and why they are finding success in Europe. “In Spain we have Zara, a company founded with the goal of making fashion affordable for everyone.  I see Xiaomi as doing something similar with technology.  Just because you add ‘smart’ in front of a product doesn't mean it should command a huge mark-up. After all we live in a world where nearly every product is a smart product,” he explains. “In terms of our presence in Europe, Xiaomi products are super popular in Spain, maybe because there is a real appetite there for affordable tech.  Although we are yet to formally enter many markets, we have a live heat map in the office that shows where our smart devices are being activated. Interestingly, Germany is also an extremely bright area on the map.” 

Working in China

Aside from Eduardo’s current experience working out of Xiaomi’s Beijing HQ, he also worked from the seaside city of Qingdao during his time at consumer electronics and home appliances giant Haier.  He is often asked by MBA prospects about the main differences in working styles between China and Europe.  “In Europe I always had the feeling that companies are aging, whereas in China, there is an army of young people eager to learn, which makes it a much more vibrant and dynamic environment,” says Eduardo. “I am lucky because I have a great working relationship with my manager who will often ask me about my short- and long-term plans. Not every foreigner working in China has the intention to stay here forever; but by having this clear and open conversation on a regular basis, my manager knows I am not going to disappear back to Europe mid-project. At the same time, because he knows my long-term plans he has the confidence to plug me into the right projects that will benefit my career.”

He credits skills learned during the CEIBS MBA with much of the success he has had in his professional life since graduating. With the school’s links to both China and Europe, it was the perfect vehicle for the Spanish national to get the skills he needed.

“What I remember most clearly are the lessons about managing people, as they have helped me out of many difficult situations. CEIBS helped prepare me with hard skills, soft skills and frameworks to help manage challenges when facing differences between China and Europe,” says Eduardo.

His advice for anyone looking for a career related to China and Europe? “First get a taste of what it is like to work here in China. After all, you need to understand what is happening in the ‘mothership’! My life in Beijing is now very different from the life I had in Spain.  I have swapped hanging out with colleagues in bars after work for a home life that also includes my mother-in-law who is helping us to raise our baby. But, at only 33, I have had more exposure to technology, business and China than I would have ever had back in Europe. So far, the career shortcut is paying off!”



James Kent
Charmaine Clarke