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首批获得中国证监会资格认证的注册分析师,浙江大学经济学硕士,高级程序员。1991年华东师大计算机本科毕业即进入证券市场,在股民中享有较高的知名度和声誉,其中在新浪"谁是最受欢迎的股评家"调查中列前三位、在中国证券网"股评家排行榜"791位股评家及机构中排名前五位。

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Leave the MNCs(CHINA DAILY)  

2006-09-18 16:59:05|  分类: 《逃离外企》专题 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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For mainland Chinese, it’s tough to get to the top inmultinationals. Reasons? Cultural differences, communicationskills, lack of international exposure. And a perceived glassceiling. But things are changing – albeitslowly 
 

SUN MIN
Some love it. Some hate it. But many want to try it.
Working at multinational companies (MNCs) has been the preferredchoice for college graduates in China for years – modern officesin swanky downtown buildings, elegant suits, high salaries and apromising career outlook are too alluring to resist.
But in a giant enterprise headquartered overseas, how far can aChinese go?
The question has already troubled many, including top players likeJack Gao, corporate vice-president of Autodesk and former presidentand general manager of Microsoft China.
Gao, a native Chinese who studied and worked in the United States,started his senior management career by setting up the Chinamarketing and sales operations for Autodesk, one of the largestglobal design software companies, in 1995. After four years ofdeveloping the business scale next only next to Japan in theAsia-Pacific, he accepted the offer from Microsoft to head itsChina operations because of the greater challenge there.
“I’m a person who relishes a challenge,” says Gao in aninterview with China Business Weekly. “I feel extremely fortunateand rewarded to associate my career with the rising of China andthe MNCs which are very committed to the market and willing to winbig.”
Mutual trust, critical thinking and creativity from both the localteam and headquarters are essential for the success of an MNC inoverseas markets, he says. And that is also a decisive factor forthe career development of its staff. A leader of a global companyshould have full respect for the local culture and relevantmanagement skills, says Gao.
However, in reality, not all MNCs can do so. Each has its ownstrategy in overseas business, and may come to differentconclusions when it comes to delegating power to localmanagement.
Gao eventually chose to leave Microsoft and return to Autodesk,whose emphasis on the Chinese market and strong localimplementation relit his passion for the job. In June 2003, Gao wasassigned as vice-president of Autodesk in charge of new emergingmarket regions, mainly including China and India, and directlyreports to Autodesk’s headquarters in the US.
Since then, Autodesk has launched a numbers of uniqueChina-oriented programmes, such as China Day at the US headquartersin San Rafael, China Guru (a personalized training programme forsenior managers to gain in-depth knowledge on China), and even setup the China Initiative Steering Committee, in which the AutodeskCEO is the chairman and Jack Gao one of the four members, tofacilitate direct communication and fast decision-making onChina-related strategic business.
Such efforts have paid off for Autodesk worldwide as well as itshundreds of Chinese managers and employees. Its sales in China, amajor engine for its global business, have been growing over 50 percent for years Autodesk China’s local employee strength has alsoincreased 10 times in the last three years.
“When an MNC’s China revenue is growing bigger, it is also meansmore top-level Chinese managers,” Gao says, “And working togetherwith an excellent team is great enjoyment.”
Running away
However, few people are as lucky as Gao in their pursuit ofcareers, and even fewer reach the top position as he did.
Yu Lei, who had worked as a sales and regional sales manager in anumber of MNCs including L’Oreal and Sara Lee, chose to run awayfrom the MNC empire where he felt he could not realize hispotential.
Yu, in his 30s, and a vice-president of a listed Chinese company inHangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, made his name by writinga novel “Leave the MNCs”. The book, published in June, depictsthe work experience of a young man named Li Bai, who, after tastingthe sweetness and bitterness of MNC life, chooses to leave for adomestic company.
Yu says the story is a reflection of the real life of many friendsand includes his own experience.
Politics at MNCs can be very complex, he says. Sometimes, you feellike an outsider with little control over things.
Though a good training place for new graduates, an intangibleceiling for Chinese executives in the MNCs sets a hurdle in theirpromotion track.
Compared to executives from overseas, the chance of careerdevelopment for native Chinese is limited – mid-level managementposts are accessible but few get promoted to really top positions.That is partly because of a lack of international exposure for mostnative Chinese and cultural conflicts with the Western style, whichinhibits their ability in managing international business mattersand communication with superiors, he says.
“You feel worn out and helpless after reaching the mid-30s andstill being a department or regional manager, with little prospectof further promotions,” says Yu.  “And then youlose your passion for work, which is fatal to a professional’scareer development.”
Some smaller-scale local companies may provide a bigger platform,he says, and their growth potential makes you feel excited.
Yu eventually plans to become a sales and marketing consultant andbecome his own boss.
Cultural conflicts exist everywhere around the world, but thingsmay be better in more westernized regions like India, where morelocal talents get promoted to really high positions like globalheads of MNCs, says Gong Li, greater China chairman of Accenture, aglobal management consulting and technology services company.
 Good communicators
 “Talent, communication skills and internationalexposure are common criteria for MNCs when they choose managementstaff in China, especially for mid- and high-ranking positions,”says Zhang Jianguo, president of Chinahr.com, one of China’sbiggest recruitment websites, and an expert in human resourcemanagement.
For a native Chinese, the chances of promotion are higher insmaller MNCs which are eager to tap the Chinese market, he says,while for big players, foreign executives and overseas Chinese aremore preferred choices for top  positions.
However, there have been subtle changes in recent years, he says,as more mid-level local management staff become more experiencedand ready for top positions.
More and more MNCs have been transferring their China headquartersor R&D centres to Beijing and Shanghai in recent years. And theaccelerated pace of localization of these multinationals has alsoseen the rise of senior executives from local ranks, though onlyfew reach the top.
Take the biggest telecommunication and electronics MNCs in China,for example. Most of their China businesses are headed by Chinese,but the majority of them are from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
But there are exceptions. The most recent examples include theassignments of Wang Jing as senior vice-president and chairman ofQUALCOMM Asia Pacific in August, and Zhang Zhiqiang as generalmanagerof Siemens Communications Group in China. Both Wang and Zhang were born and educated in the mainland, butthey acquired their higher degrees overseas.
Right now, there is  a big shortage of suchtalents within the country, says Zhang Jianguo. But with the steadygrowth of the economy and improving education standards, anincreasing number of top-notch managers will emerge in the coming20 years or so, either from State-owned enterprises, private firmsor MNCs’ China operations.
Most MNCs have their own leadership development programmes, whichprepare promising young staff and mid-level executives for seniorpositions.
Take Accenture, for example. It sets strict standards forrecruiting graduates to ensure the quality of its talent pool. Thena few of the most outstanding enter its global training system andtake part in overseas training to increase their internationalexposure.
Gong Li, Accenture’s greater China chairman, says its China teamselected around a dozen executives to participate in a one-yearleadership development programme for Accenture Global last year,which included four stints of on-job training in its overseasoffices working with colleagues from different countries andcultural backgrounds.
“China had the biggest quota for the training program,” L saysproudly.” I felt it very necessary because our business isexpanding rapidly here and will need many top-levelinternational-standard managers. And luckily my boss was convincedwith that.”
However, it is not easy to retain the best people even for theMNCs. A survey published by Heidrick & Struggles in Julyindicated that top managers in MNCs change jobs every 15 months onaverage;  and most MNCs would be happy if they cankeep the ratio of staff resignation within 15 per cent eachyear.
The shortage of top executives in MNCs aged between 45 and 60 iseven greater in China, which helps explain why MNCs sometimes haveto assign overseas executives to the position.
The report attributed the phenomenon to several reasons: the“cultural revolution” (1966-1976) that paralyzed the highereducation system, the high levels of immigration in the 80s and90s, and the shortage of top business schools in China.
But things are changing gradually, says Zhang Jianguo.
With more Chinese receiving higher education and more returningfrom overseas institutions, as well as greater internationalexposure for Chinese executives in local firms, more businesselites will emerge from the young generation in the coming 20 and30 years, he says.
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