Understanding the Finer Points for Business Gains

July 30, 2014

China Daily’s Yang Ziman and Du Xiaoying recently profiled the MBA Program’s China Module at CKGSB in a glowing two-page article that explains why this ground-breaking new course is perfect for foreign managers looking to enter the Chinese market.

Foreign executives who want to tap into the China market and gain more knowledge about the country may apply for a specialized two-week Master of Business Administration module.

The China Module, designed by Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, one of the leading business schools in the country, is an MBA module tailored for those already working in or running companies who seek insight into China’s business environment, learn how to conduct business in the country and collaborate with Chinese companies.

The module is the first of its kind among Chinese business schools, being designed specifically for foreign managers, said May Xia, deputy director of the program.

The first session of the module, which ran from May 18 to 31, offered courses such as strategic marketing in China, investment and financing in China’s capital market and strategies for entering the China market through alliances and acquisitions.

It also featured field studies, including visits to major Chinese companies such as Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

About 50 took part in the course. They were a combination of MBA and Executive MBA students, hailing from two overseas business schools — the Steven M. Ross School of Business of the University of Michigan and Fundacao Dom Cabral in Brazil, joined by students from CKGSB.

“The China Module’s biggest advantage is its strong Chinese perspective,” said Xia.

“Our professors have spent years working abroad so they know how foreigners view China. This allows them to offer unique insight in their lectures and helps differentiate them from Chinese professors who have not taught abroad, especially when relating to an international audience.”

Established in 2002, CKGSB is a nonprofit educational institute that has risen to become a leader in the growing Chinese private sector. The school has taken the initiative to offer orientation programs for managers and entrepreneurs who aim to enter the China market.

In the class, a couple of Brazilian businessmen were trying to learn the Chinese way of doing things. They felt the need to do so because of China’s expanding presence in Brazil’s energy sector.

Charles de Sirovy, chief financial officer of Neoenergia SA, a Brazilian power generation company, was sponsored by his company to participate in the module.

“My company takes part in a lot of project bidding in Brazil,” he said. “Several years ago, the State Grid Corp of China came to our country. Today, they are a big competitor. I am here to understand their mindset.”

The module also offers lectures analyzing the distinctive behavior of Chinese consumers.

Juliet Zhu, professor of marketing and co-director of the Branding Center at CKGSB, has just returned to China after spending years living and working abroad. She uses her experience living in Canada into her course to help shed light on differences between Western and Chinese consumers.

“Understanding nuances and cultural differences is fundamental to business success. For example, Chinese consumers are highly price-sensitive. They can easily switch brands for a better price,” said Zhu.

“As a result, foreign manufacturers increasingly look for ways to lower prices to make their products more acceptable to Chinese consumers. However, quality is key to building trust, and Chinese consumers demand high quality.”

For Alexandre de Toledo Correa, general manager of the product and shopper marketing divisions in Brazil for The Marketing Store Worldwide LLC, a United States-based marketing agency that has research and development centers in China, the most critical thing is how to target the right consumers.

“In coastal areas, consumers are going digital. But in more rural areas, the basic needs have yet to be met. The approaches for marketing to these different groups of customers should vary,” he said.

“Doing business in China is full of challenges and opportunities. However, once someone has mastered that, the market here promises huge returns.”

Sergio Muniz, sales director of the Netherlands-based Gemalto NV, a digital security services company that has business ties with China Mobile Ltd, was surprised by the popularity of mobile devices in China.

“It’s a great surprise to see that the volume of online transactions in China is more focused on mobile devices. The percentage of e-commerce is much higher than in Western countries,” he said.

Zhu said that having staff who have studied at CKGSB can help reduce risks for foreign businesses in China.

“It is more efficient and effective to seek local help when moving into a country where cultural differences could present challenges. Moreover, many of the students here are from business-to-business companies. Therefore, developing trusting relationships with their stakeholders is critical for their success in China,” Zhu said.

The school operates through the financial support of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, run by the Hong Kong tycoon and philanthropist.

This article originally appeared here.

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