Catherine Zhu is the managing partner of Egon Zehnder in Hong Kong.
China’s global expansion is an opportunity for Hong Kong professionals
Chinese companies are going global–fast. In the first quarter of 2016, Chinese buyers were responsible for foreign acquisitions almost equal to the entire value for 2015.
For Hongkongers thinking about careers in global business, this trend presents a great opportunity. Chinese acquirers are seeking to build integrated global companies, and increasingly expect their Western and Chinese subsidiaries to build collaborative ventures that require a high degree of intercultural understanding.
Hongkongers have a unique cultural composition, along with impressive professional capabilities. Drawing on these, they can help Chinese-owned global companies leverage Western brands, technologies and talent to tap into fast-growing Asian markets.
Consider ChemChina’s strategy: it is merging its existing tyre and rubber business with that of Pirelli – a full “reverse integration” that will result in a new organisation headquartered in Italy, but with major growth ambitions in China. Its plans for German chemicals company KraussMaffei are even more far-reaching: it intends to merge six existing Chinese chemicals companies into a new entity headquartered in Germany.
HNA Group’s acquisition of US-based Ingram Micro tells a similar story: Ingram will remain headquartered in California, but will play a leading role in the group’s international expansion in the IT products and services sector, particularly in emerging markets.
My advice to Hong Kong-based professionals with global aspirations is to join a Chinese conglomerate, or build a start-up and partner with China’s global businesses. You are uniquely placed to build common ground between the increasingly diverse leadership of these companies, and to help them drive innovation and international growth. The global expansion of Chinese business is Hong Kong’s biggest opportunity in a generation. Make it your opportunity too.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Go global via China.