Seeking a Program Manager to Help Launch a New Program

The Helen Wang Group is seeking a program manager to help launch The Secret of Succeeding in China (SSC) program, an innovative and one-of-a-kind program that helps U.S. companies crack the China market. Reporting directly to Helen Wang, the program manager will be responsible for all parts of the operations, including planning, launching, marketing, and running the program. You will have opportunities to interact with industry leaders and learn many leadership skills. The person must be passionate about U.S.-China related business and want to make a difference in this area. This position has potential to grow into Executive Director or Marketing Director roles.

Job Descriptions
  • Plan, launch and run the seminar series including managing all the logistics
  • Research business cases and help develop the workbook for the program
  • Develop online marketing campaigns and social media campaigns
  • Manage and update program website
  • Communicate with the guest speakers, seminar attendees, and sponsors
Skills Needed
  • Strong project management skills with attention to details
  • Experience of planning and managing events
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Highly motivated and quick learner
  • Proficient with PowerPoint, Word, Excel
  • Knowledge of WordPress is a plus
  • Ability to take leadership role as well as follow instructions
  • MBA is a plus but not required

This position is based in Silicon Valley, California. If interested, please send an introductory email to Continue reading

Emerging and Surging: Doing Business in Emerging Markets Successfully

I will be speaking at Northern California Business Marketing Association on Sept. 28 in Santa Clara, California, on how to do business successfully in emerging markets.

Other people who are on the panel include Joanne Vliet, Silicon Valley Export Assistance of U.S. Department of Commerce, Milton Ribiero, Vice President of Cypress Semiconductor, Tatyana Kanzaveli, marketing manager of Deloitte & Touche, Chris D’Couto, Ph.D, President & CEO of Neah Power.   

Here is the description of the event:

Over the past decade, Emerging Markets have contributed more than 1/3 of the world’s GDP growth. This number is expected to rise to 49% by the year 2020, when BRICs will also account for 1/3 of the global economy.  Despite recent global recessionary downturns, Emerging Markets are already showing early signs of a strong return, affording savvy marketers great opportunities to enter tomorrow’s markets today. Based on the standard BRIC(S) model, we are pleased to offer a panel of experts who will share their thoughts and provide insights.

For the details of the event and registration, click here. Hope you can come!

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Oral History of China’s Legal Reform

In writing my book on the middle class in China, I am trying to understand China’s legal reform and its implications. Xu Zhen-Xiao, who has a law degree from Xiamen University and is a senior researcher at the Zhejiang Academy of Social Science, gave me a brief history of China’s legal reform.

(Photo credit: The New York Times) Continue reading

The Chinese Are Coming

When I arrived at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in Menlo Park yesterday, the presentation had already started. Jane Jie Sun, the CFO of Ctrip – the Expedia equivalent in China, was giving an enthusiastic talk about the company’s success. The room was full of aspiring entrepreneurs, mostly Chinese, who are trying to catch a slice of China’s economic boom, or at minimum, to admire what others have achieved.

This is one of the events put on by HYSTA – an entrepreneurial association in Silicon Valley. Standing in the audience, I couldn’t help to be impressed. Just look at the following facts:

– China’s travel industry is growing double digits every year and there is no sign of slowing down due to the emergence of the middle class.

– Ctrip aggregated more than 80 % of a fragmented market, which was typically characterized by mom-and-pop hotels, and handles a daily volume equal to the volume one travel agent does in a year.

– The company’s revenue is growing at 50 % year to year, with a gross margin as high as 80 percent (whew, where on earth can you find a business like that?!).

Although Ctrip is a copycat of Expedia, it successfully adapted to China’s situation and provides the services that are “China unique.” For example, we already know about the call-center and free ticket delivery, but its “express service” is quite remarkable. In Beijing and Shanghai, because traffic is so bad and people cannot predict how soon they will get to the airport, Ctrip invented a service that allows people to call while riding their taxis to the airport, and issues the air ticket including boarding pass within one hour. Wall Street analysts said Ctrip is the only company in the world that is doing this.

Other things I have learned are: since 2006, GDP growth in the second-tier cities in China has surpassed that of first-tier cities. Recently, China relaxed visa restrictions for people to travel to the U.S. as tourists. It is predicted that by 2020, China will be the largest outbound travel country in the world. A minor point, it will certainly help the huge trade deficit between the United States and China.

A friend of mine told me that her sister, who works in IBM Beijing, travels every year, and each year to a new country. For the young Chinese middle class, travel to see the world is an essential component of their lives. Some consider it an important achievement in their lifetime. We will see the Chinese are coming.

Two Trends on Chinese Consumers

A recent McKinsey report “How half the world shops: Apparel in Brazil, China, and India” reveals some interesting patterns of consumer spending in these countries. Two things stand out for me on the Chinese consumers. I thought I would comment briefly here as the Chinese consumers are related to my upcoming book on the Chinese middle class:

First, the Chinese mass market consumers (defined as annual household income from $3,000 to $12,000) have relatively small, undifferentiated wardrobes – 40 percent of the Chinese women reportedly wear similar clothing at work, formal social occasions, and dates with friends or family.

This photo was taken at Vienna Cafe in Shanghai. The picture on the wall is Chairman Mao and his famous motto “Serve the People.”

I did notice, even in Shanghai, people are less sensitive as to what to wear for different occasions. For example, I met a girl friend, who was wearing a beautiful dress, for coffee on a Saturday afternoon. She used to be a marketing professional in a multinational and is now running her own PR firm. But the next day when I met her again in a totally different situation, I was surprised to see that she was still wearing the exact same dress as she wore the day before. However, as China continues opening up to the world, I would expect people will become more sophisticated in this area.

Another thing is that China’s urban youth (18 to 25 years old) is dramatically different from other consumer segments (see my previous post on China’s cyber-savvy and pragmatic youth). They favor international brands and are much more open to try on foreign products compared with the youth in other countries. This segment currently comprises about 15 million people.

This photo was taken in the Plaza 66 – the luxury mall in Shanghai

When I visited the Plaza 66 – the luxury mall in Shanghai, I was perplexed to see that most consumers in the mall were young people in their early twenties. I really wondered how on earth they could afford to buy Fendis and Luis Vuittons and where they got the money. My friend Shaun Rein, who studies the youth culture in China, explained: “It was the secretaries who are making 3,000 yuan a month who buy these luxury goods.” Well, if so, it’s hard to imagine this kind of consumption will sustain.

Stronger China Helps Balance the World Economy

According to a recent The Economist article, this year, for the first time, China is contributing more to global GDP growth (measured at market exchange rates) than the United States. China and other emerging economies have become powerful new engines to balance the world economy when America is facing a risk of recession.

When I was traveling in China, I could see there is a lot of optimism and confidence in people everywhere about China’s future. Although they are worried about their children’s education, social security, etc. in general, people believe China is going to get better. Even the economists don’t see many threats to cause China’s economy to collapse in the near future.

Interestingly enough, as the article indicates, “China is one of the few parts of the world without a housing bubble.” Although housing prices have increased several fold, the article says, “the ratio of house prices to average income has fallen by 25% in China since 1999.” This explains why some people I interviewed own more than one apartment, and some still want to buy more.

Here is another picture of a Chinese middle class family:

The article also discusses the other myths about China such as export-led growth and increased labor cost. There are indications that a growing middle class is driving domestic consumption, in spite of their high savings; and labor productivity has increased faster than the rise of average wages.

This is a photo of the neighborhood of my parents’ home. Five years ago, it was packed with bicycles. But now, it’s parked with cars.

The article goes on to say that China’s long term prospects are strong because its economic success has been based on high savings, openness to trade, good education and strong productivity. “As China has grown, it has come to matter much more to the rest of the world.” China is now a force for stabilizing the world economy and it’s good for the world.

Silicon Valley’s VC China Race

In 2005, China-based domestic and foreign venture capital firms raised new funds of $4 billion, setting a new record for VC fundraising in China. In the past couple of years, Silicon Valley’s top-tier VCs are rushing into China like never before.

Realizing the importance of being close to the market, many VC firms are setting up China offices with impressive local partners. Doll Capital, joined by former Sina CEO Hurst Lin as a general partner, held a grand opening banquet early this year in Beijing to formally announce its entrance in China. Sequoia Capital has also set up a China office with a fund of $168 million, led by Fan Zhang, the former head of DFJ’s China team. Other firms including Bessemer and BlueRun have all officially set up China offices either in Beijing or Shanghai.

Some firms are adopting different strategies in entering the China market. For example, instead of having China offices, Accel and DFJ are partnering with seasoned China-focused VC firms such as IDG and TGF. Mayfield is supporting the new China-based fund GSR Ventures (???), and NEA has collaborated with Northern Light (???), a fund started by Valley-bred successful Chinese entrepreneurs Feng Deng et al.

Even Kleiner Perkins, which has been cautious and conservative in investing in China, has added three partners with China business backgrounds (see my previous post), including a new partner Ying Lee who is the former Deputy General Manager of UTStarcom’s IPTV’s business unit. At his recent trip to China, John Doerr expressed serious investment interest in some deals.

It seems very crowded with VCs pouring into China. The opportunities, however, are growing even more rapidly than that, according to Zero2IPO, a Beijing-based venture research and consulting firm. The successful IPOs of Baidu and Focus Media have certainly set the expectation. Although there are still many pitfalls, the good news is that Chinese entrepreneurs are maturing and they are very savvy in terms of business model innovation. In comparison, the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs tend to more focus on technical innovation.

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