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China CEO: Voices of Experience from 20 International Business Leaders



China CEO: Voices of Experience from 20 International Business Leaders

Juan Antonio Fernandez, Laurie Underwood

ISBN: 978-1-118-17723-5 August 2011 220 Pages


CHINA CEO: Voices of Experience From 20 International Business Leaders is based on interviews with 20 top executives and eight experienced consultants based in China. The book is packed with first-hand, front-line advice from veterans of the China market. Hear directly from the top executives heading up the China operations of Bayer, British Petroleum, Coca-Cola, General Electric, General Motors, Philips, Microsoft, Siemens, Sony and Unilever, plus expert China-based consultants at Boston Consulting Group, Korn/Ferry International, McKinsey & Company, and many more.

Each chapter provides practical tips and easy to grasp models that will help new managers in China to be effective. In CHINA CEO, we deliver what other Western authors can't – first-hand reflections based on over 100 years' collective experience in China. The book presents this rich knowledge in a readable, conversational style suitable for time-constrained executives. Each chapter gives specific advice on how to manage Chinese employees, work with Chinese business partners, communicate with headquarters, face competitors, battle intellectual property rights infringers, win-over Chinese consumers, negotiate with the Chinese government, and adapt yourself (and your family) to life in China.

Foreword: China: A Must-win Market.

Introduction: Opportunity and Challenge.

Chapter 1. Qualities of a Successful International Manager in China.

Chapter 2. Managing Chinese Employees.

Chapter 3. Working with Business Partners.

Chapter 4. Communicating with Headquarters.

Chapter 5. Facing Competitors.

Chapter 6. Battling Intellectual Property Rights Infringers.

Chapter 7. Winning Over Chinese Consumers.

Chapter 8. Negotiating with the Chinese Government.

Chapter 9. Living in China.

Chapter 10. Conclusion.

Appendix: Research Methodolgy.


Many managers dream of becoming a Chief Executive Officer in China. Maybe they think that CEO stands for Cash Enhancement Opportunity - but of course, failure could turn the assignment into a Career Ending Option. So how can you ensure that your assignment in China is successful?

Management Professor Fernandez and business journalist Underwood tackled this question by interviewing 20 top executives working in China, plus eight experienced consultants. They discussed topics like managing in China, setting up local operations, adapting regional/global businesses to China, tackling the local market and living in China.

But how do you report the results of 28 interviews? The easiest solution would be to present each interview as a separate chapter. However, Fernandez and Underwood wanted to understand the challenges facing international executives in China today. So they took the harder - but more useful - approach of analysing the interviews and then writing about the main underlying themes, quoting from the interviewees to illustrate particular points.

That approach means that topics like working with Chinese business partners or dealing with IP piracy are pulled together into a well structured discussion. But if you want to understand the specific experience of Philips, Sony or Unilever in China, the information is split up across many chapters.

China CEO launches straight into the key question: What are the qualities of a successful international manager in China? Or to express it more personally: Are you the right stuff for China? Fernandez and Underwood cluster the essential qualities into three groups: professional qualities like having a rock-solid professional background and some previous international experience; global qualities like being adventurous and willing to learn; and China-specific qualities like being able to balance apparent opposites such as humility and strength, and patience and speed.

The bulk of China CEO covers topics which directly interest all international managers, like managing Chinese employees, facing local and global competitors and dealing with the government. It also explores some important, but commonly ignored, aspects of having a successful assignment in China. There is a useful discussion of the challenges of living in China. Most expatriates enjoy their work, but the “trailing spouse” and children often have more difficulties with the experience. Fortunately, there are specific steps that companies can take to minimise the stress of relocation.

This is useful reading for all CEOs and international managers undertaking an assignment in China. Learn from the China Experience of Others!--Keith Hall's Book Reviews

“This is a useful book. It’s an easy read and moves quickly, with many relevant examples to China today. The book gains credence by featuring insights from executives who have lived in worked in China extensively, and its content is relevant and fairly accurate, in my opinion. The book is well-organized; each chapter covers a single topic and concludes with a summary. This book might appeal to anyone who wants to come to China to do business. While no book can tell you everything you need to know about operating in China, this book will provide some ideas about the challenges of China and what some people have done to encounter these challenges.”--Sharon Landon, Managing Director, Cross Cultural Interchange; Chair,  AmCham Shanghai Education & Training Committee

"a worthwhile and enjoyable read." (Supply Management, September 2006)

"…a good mixture of theory, models, tools and case studies…useful for people ... delivering improvements in their global sourcing approach." (Global Sourcing, September 2006)