Charmaine Clarke - Savouring each Victory
Charmaine Clarke - Savouring each Victory
By Lei Na, CEIBS

The one who sets the tone in CEIBS international media communications is Charmaine Clarke, Assistant Director of CEIBS Marketing and Communications Department.

In charge of the school’s international media communications, she has to be both bold and detail-oriented, innovative and precise, as well as keep inner peace while tackling complex issues. She compares her situation to “trying to avoid raindrops as I walk on egg shells”. Most of the time, we can only be the on-lookers of her busy life as she completes a succession of heavy tasks on her own. While introducing CEIBS to the world, she also gives us a better impression of the world and what magical coincidences that brought her to China, to CEIBS

Can you tell us about your life before you came to China? How long have you lived in China? What’s your overall impression of the country?

In my former life I was a journalist in my home country, Jamaica. I covered everything from violent street protests to a state visit – full of pomp and ceremony – by Queen Elizabeth; from local government meetings to the G15 Summit of regional leaders. I travelled to Wales, Germany, China, The Bahamas and more, on assignment.

I began as a cub reporter in the Jamaica Observer Newspaper’s Western Bureau and by the time I resigned in 2005 to do my Master’s degree in China I was part of the editorial department’s core management team, working from the HQ in Kingston. I was in charge of the Sunday paper, bureaus and correspondents.

It was a great career, though very stressful towards the end. I would wake up at 5am every Sunday morning to listen to the radio to see if there were any big stories I had missed.  Overall I enjoyed being a journalist, I just got bored after the majority of the job became editing other people’s work. I like the thrill of being out in the field. But my mom used to get nervous when she occasionally saw me on TV, trying to do my job while caught up in the crowd running away from tear gas during a street protest. Of course by the time the news aired on TV, I would be safely back in office or even at home in my apartment.

As I mentioned before, I came to China to study. I successfully applied for a Chinese government scholarship to do a Master’s Degree in International Finance at Shanghai University of Finance & Economics.  I had been to China once before, for work, and I had absolutely loved that visit – except the food. I was among a group of about 15 journalists from the Caribbean. We met all these government officials and they served us very fancy food – sea cucumbers and bird’s nest, even snake at one point – but we were not used to this type of cuisine. I would push the food around on my plate, pretending to eat, then find the nearest western fast food place that evening after I had written and filed my stories.

I’ve been here for the past 13 years and I still don’t eat those things – but I consider China my second home. Nothing can replace Jamaica, of course, but China comes pretty close. What I like most about China is the way they harness tech to make life convenient – the plethora of car hailing apps, being able to order something online today and receive it tomorrow. These far outweigh whatever negatives come with being here.

What circumstances led to you joining CEIBS, do you still remember your first impression of the school?

A fellow founding member of the Caribbean Association in China (CAC) was hired as English Editor in the Marketing & Communications Department at CEIBS but he got a better job with a big bank, a job more in his field. He didn’t want to leave CEIBS in the lurch so he recommended me as his replacement. At the time I was in my last semester at school, and apart from writing my thesis and doing volunteer PR work for the CAC, I had the time. So I applied for the part-time job and was successful.
My first day on the job was June 25, 2007. It was also the day the King and Queen of Spain came to visit. What a start!  

Can you describe your career path during the last ten years at CEIBS?

When I graduated in 2008, I was hired full time and given additional duties. Media relations were added to the list, I was responsible for the special BMT page on the website and I was to negotiate media partnerships, among other things. I was eventually promoted to Senior Associate Editor and the list of tasks just kept growing! But I liked that there were always opportunities to learn. I had to learn how to write an ad for TV, for example, by doing a Google search for the topic then through trial and error. I had no option but to learn… I had negotiated millions of RMB in free TV ads and the media partner needed me to provide the copy!

Then in 2011 my then boss left and I was promoted to Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications. I immediately began the task of establishing CEIBS’ presence on international social media. I realised it could be an efficient way of telling our story directly to the outside world, of showing potential students, and even potential faculty, what CEIBS is all about. Because of its entrepreneurial DNA, and the fact that it’s still a relatively young b-school, CEIBS provides a lot of leeway to try new things. Today we have a strong presence on all the major international social media sites. It does help that now even the Chinese government has seen the value of communicating its message on these international social media platforms.

I also made a big push, when I got to director level, to integrate video into our communications effort as it was obviously the next wave back then. Now video is the norm, and we work to find even more innovative ways to communicate our message.

Can you tell us a bit about what you do at CEIBS? What’s your favourite part?

I do a bit of everything at CEIBS. I have edited a fire drill, written or edited speeches for the school leadership, I have cleaned the mini studio when I needed it urgently for a TV interview. [The cleaning crew eventually came and they were very puzzled because there was no dust on the furniture]. But my official role is leading the team that is in charge of non-Chinese language external communications. This covers everything from the website and the alumni magazine, TheLINK, to handling media interview requests, providing media tips and training to faculty, students and alumni, and contributing to the crafting and implementation of the school’s overall communications strategy.

I savour each victory, no matter how small. I get a thrill when I pitch an interview topic to a reporter and he/she accepts it. I get a thrill when a professor accepts an interview request. I get a thrill when I write a story and all the words fall into place just right. I get a thrill when I see a team member master a new task. I must savour all these wins, no matter how small, because there are a lot of challenges.

One part of your work is communicating with the international media and leveraging those resources to help build the CEIBS brand. What are some of the channels typically used to introduce CEIBS to the rest of the world? And what kind of image of CEIBS do you want to deliver to the whole world?

I mentioned social media before - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, iTunesU. We also use traditional media - TV, radio, newspaper, magazines. Over the last 10 years I have seen the media landscape evolve and these changes have had an impact on how we craft content and the channels we use. For example, we have moved away from print ads and more towards digital. I would love to see us increase our ad spend in the international market but that has to be done in a strategic and sustained way for it to be effective. Now everyone is focused on digital ads, we need to strengthen our ad content in order to stand out. We need to tell stories that evoke emotional responses and we need to take advantage of the technology out there (without abusing data or invading people’s privacy) to do targeted campaigns. For at least 5 years. Then we may see improved recognition of the CEIBS brand outside of China.

How do you balance work and life? What do you do in your free time, what are your hobbies?

Well, I’m replying to your questions at 9:30pm on a Monday night, so that’s an indicator of the level of my work life balance. But seriously, a few years ago I made a decision that I would leave work at 6pm every day, no matter what. It helps that I need to walk my dog Ruff at 6:30pm. Of course I still reply to emails when I am home because that’s the nature of the job. I get a lot of emails from media outside of China’s time zone and I like to respond to their needs when they are at work.

I love reading but don’t do enough reading just for pleasure, I spend most of the time reading the news as I need to be up to date for work. I love long walks, as it gives me time to think. I also enjoy simple things like hanging out with my friends in a teashop. I’m not into bars. I also spend a lot of time talking with my family and friends – all over the world – on the various social media apps.

I need to do more volunteer activities like the one I did with the CAC during summer break. We took a group of kids to the Shanghai Aquarium. I had done it a few years back but this time was even better! Nothing compares to the joy you get from making someone else happy!
Do you have a strategy to win over and retain Chinese consumers?
Do you have a strategy to win over and retain Chinese consumers?
Will there be a drop-in purchases of consumer goods in 2019 as the Chinese economy slows? Do you have a strategy to win over and retain Chinese consumers? Which international firms have managed to recover, after stumbling, adjust their strategy and succeed? CEIBS Associate Professor of Marketing Yi Xiang provides answers.

Consumer spending has historically been a positive for China’s economy. But lately, we’ve been seeing slowing growth across certain retail sectors. What do you expect for consumer goods sales in 2019 given that the economy is expected to slow down to 6%?

The economy is slowing down, but consumer spending is actually not. If you look at the data, the growth rate of consumer spending for city dwellers was roughly 6.8% last year. For rural areas, there was even a 10% growth rate. So that means spending is not slowing down; it's actually growing at quite a healthy level.

Having said that, we do observe different slowdowns in different retailing areas. So if you decompose spending into different categories, we do observe a decrease in spending on both food and clothing, actually decreasing in terms of percentages, not slowing down. But what is increasing is the spending on healthcare, and in rural areas people are spending more on education. So those two areas are actually growing. So that's what might partly explain our observations in the cities and the actual data.

So my take on that data is, generally, people are becoming richer and richer. No matter whether you're in the city or in the villages. When you are rich, you tend to spend less on ordinary necessities such as food and clothing. You do tend to spend more on items that will increase your quality of life in other aspects such as education, healthcare, entertainment and those things. So people are actually shifting their consumption towards other categories.

Do you see any other big growth areas in consumer spending?

First of all, I need to explain that you should not look at the Chinese market as one market. At the very fundamental level, you should break it down into cities and the rural areas. If we take those two segments, then we can see that people living in the cities spend slightly more on healthcare and entertainment. In rural areas, they spend more on communication, family equipment, white goods, and healthcare. And you should never forget that people keep spending more on housing. I do not mean spending on mortgages and those things, I mean rental. That's basically where people are spending more and more.

What about the falling auto sales, is that a concern? How should we interpret this?

The growth rate in the car industry has been slowing since 2014. It was particularly hit last year and that might partly be linked to people's willingness to spend in the future. In the past, people had positive expectations about their future income. Now, that expectation of their salary growth is less optimal, so they tend to be more stringent when it comes to big purchases. But if you look at white goods sales [home appliances], if you look at communications [such as] cell phone sales they're not slowing down. It's just car purchases where we see this slowdown.

Could you give an example of a foreign consumer products company that has built a successful business in China, and one that has failed? And what can we conclude about their China strategies and operations?

There have been many successful foreign firms. The most successful is Coca-Cola. They came to China in 1981 and have been very successful throughout the years. There are also many, many examples of foreign firms that failed, like Best Buy. They came to China and after opening nine stores in major cities, they had to close down. And there are also firms in the same category as Coca-Cola [that faced challenges], such as Pepsi which had to sell its Chinese division to a Taiwanese firm. There are various reasons behind their failures.

I will give you two examples of firms that initially failed but quickly adjusted their strategies and eventually became very successful. One is a Korean firm called Innisfree. They specialize in skincare products. They came to China in 2004 and within two years had to withdraw from the market. It was a huge fail, no one bought their product. They had come to China assuming any foreign skincare product should be premium. They saw the success of L’Oréal and other French brands and they said, "Well, we can do that". They couldn’t. So in 2012, six years after their first failed attempt, they came back to the Chinese market with totally different positioning and branding strategies.

They now positioned themselves as a younger brand, more natural, and targeted girls at a younger age. Because their target consumers are younger, their disposable income is relatively limited, so the brand shaped their pricing strategy to fit their targeted customers. And it has been very, very successful throughout the years. If you ask young girls in high school or the college, they know the brand. This is one example of a company that failed and then returned with a modified strategy because they found the proper segment of consumers within the larger pool of Chinese consumers. They found a segment that is proportionally small; but when it comes to absolute numbers it’s actually a huge market. And they have been very successful.

Another example is Uniqlo. We all know Uniqlo. The firm came to China in 2002, and by 2005 all their stores in China were losing money. When they came to China, they believed their original positioning that they used in Japan should work. They assumed that they share a similar culture, similar norms [with Chinese consumers], [so] they should be successful. Unfortunately, their relative positioning of being a ‘cheap’ clothing [company] in Japan did not mean ‘cheap’ in China, so that approach didn't work. In 2006, they dramatically modified their strategy. They positioned themselves as a clothing firm that provides high price-to-performance ratio. So you come to the store, you pay a reasonable price, and you get good quality clothes. By quality I mean the fabric. You get average design, you get ordinary clothing, but you get ‘good enough’ stuff.

And that strategy has been attracting lots of consumers, especially in the cities, the middle classes, even including the super-rich. I know quite a few super rich people who wear Uniqlo every day. So Uniqlo has been very, very successful. They, again, found the proper market, the proper segment and positioned themselves to that particular segment of Chinese consumers. So the lesson from those two examples is: when you try to enter the Chinese market you just need to find the proper segment; just one segment that is big enough for you to make a good start and good money.

What are the most effective ways to target Chinese consumers today? Is it through social media? Do you think that traditional advertising channels are not as effective as they were before?

When we talk about targeting consumers, there are actually different stages [involved]. If you try to sell something to consumers, you have to go through several stages. The first stage is always to try to increase their awareness, to let them know [about your product]. Then after that, you have to keep throwing information at them to persuade them. And those two fundamental stages have to be taken into account when you try to communicate with your target customers.

If you look into the data on how consumers spend, in terms of how they collect information, they spend more time on digital media. On average, they now spend six hours [on media]. Half of that is on digital media, and that's actually quite a lot of time. They spend about two hours on TV. The time spent on TV has been relatively stable, it has been gradually slowing down and decreasing, but not dramatically. What has been losing [ground] is the press, in particular, newspapers. This is the one segment that has been hit dramatically. Magazines are actually ok.

So people are gradually shifting from newspapers to digital media, especially mobile and digital. If you are a firm trying to communicate with your customers, you probably have to adjust your strategy. Even senior citizens, retired ones like my mom, for example, they don't read newspapers anymore. They look at their cell phones. So if that is the trend, I don't think any [smart] company [would] do anything that goes against the trend. Having said that, this is just to increase awareness.

When it comes to persuasion, providing detailed and convincing information to consumers, that's a different story. There, I believe, both digital media and the TV, and even magazines play a role because the way people process information is totally different on digital and cell phones vis-à-vis [when they are] facing a big screen.

What can foreign companies learn from their Chinese competitors? In what ways are local companies leapfrogging ahead of their Western counterparts?

They need to know Chinese firms learn fast - so whatever you come up [with] they will learn from you. Anything that makes money, they will try to learn from you. I think Chinese competitors’ eagerness to learn is the most formidable competitive force. And when you face such competitors - ones who try to learn everything from you, and they’re fast, and they're smart - you have to take that into account in your mid-term and long-term strategies. That's the first thing.

For example, let's take skincare products as an example. We see the success of L’Oréal and other French brands. If you look at the skincare industry in China, there is one company called Shanghai Jahwa. They have been producing skincare products positioned as more herbal [in nature]. And that has been very successful because, traditionally, Chinese consumers believe herbal things are good and more natural for people's health.

So in their advertising they have been positioning their products as completely herbal. And that positioning has attracted a lot of Chinese consumers. In other words, you need to know two things about Chinese competitors. One, they’ll learn all about modern business practices from you. They also know more about Chinese culture and what Chinese consumers are looking for. So you have to take those two things into account, that's from one consumer product example.

Another example I can give you is based on a company called La Chapelle. It's a Chinese firm and I'm an Advisor to the Board. The company is a public firm, listed both in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It’s a competitor of H&M and Gap, slightly cheaper than them. But unlike H&M, they don't open big stores. They open stores that are 200 square metres, and they have roughly 9,000 stores all over China. Their strategy is very simple: "I do not compete directly with H&M because I do not have the competitive capacity to manage giant stores. But I do know that, in terms of labour supply, there are tons of good salespersons and store managers that can manage 200-square-metre stores." And they know that when it comes to shopping for clothing, ladies like to see the real stuff. In other words, the availability of the product in front of the consumer is very important. For that reason, they have been opening their stores all over China have been very, very successful.

How is advertising content different in China versus in Western countries? Do advertisements for the same product carry different messages when the audience is Chinese?

If you look at the U.S. advertising industry, the regulations are relatively less stringent. And you will see tons of advertisements that you may not necessarily trust. In Europe, the regulations are much more stringent. The advertisements have relatively more content, and [there is more of an attempt] at persuasion.

In the Chinese market, the regulatory environment has been changing. About 15 years ago, there were virtually no regulations for advertisements. You could see TV ads telling you that you can spend 150 RMB to buy a Rolex. Obviously, any educated consumer would not believe that. But less educated people would, and they would try to buy that ‘Rolex’. Recently, those kinds of "deceptive advertisements" as we would say using business school language, have been decreasing dramatically in China. The regulatory agency in China has put a lot of effort into regulating these kinds of illegal behaviours and practices. That's one aspect where we can say we do observe a change in the regulation.

In terms of content, my answer is, “Yes and no.” For the same advertisement, because of the cultural differences and because of language issues, Chinese consumers may perceive it differently compared to foreign consumers. One example I can give you is a TV ad by Lexus, a Japanese luxury car. They used to have a commercial showing the car passing by a palace. In front of the palace, there are two stone statues of lions, and those two lion statues were bowing to the car. They were trying to send the message that the car is so attractive and has very high status.

That advertisement should be OK but it irritated Chinese consumers because in Chinese tradition the stone lions means respect, emperors, high-end products. It [is seen as] Chinese; and they should not bow to a Japanese car. So there was a call for that advertisement to stop. And even worse, Lexus had to change their Chinese brand for that car model to a more moderate direct literal translation of the English brand name. So that's how people may perceive it differently, even for just the average advertisements.

For a company that’s relatively new to the China market and relatively small compared to established, more well-known brands in the market, how should they begin marketing their product?

For a medium-sized to small-sized firm trying to enter into China, I think the number one thing is not to be [overly focused on the large size of] the Chinese market. It is big, but it might be small when it comes to what you can take. So that's the number one thing: you have to have a precise, accurate estimate of what you can get from the market. And sometimes being pessimistic may be optimal for you.

Number two is, you need to understand the different levels of Chinese consumers and figure out where you want to enter the market. If you look at the pyramid of Chinese consumers’ willingness to pay, there are three levels. The bottom level is what we call Aspirers. Those consumers are looking for things that can increase their quality of life. So they don't have a TV, so even one that’s crappy quality, as long as it shows something on the screen, in colour, is going to be good enough. Because those are people who aspire to have a better quality of life. And their number is not small, it's roughly 300 million.

The second category, I call them Shoppers. They are relatively OK, relatively middle-class. But when it comes to shopping or consuming, they do comparison shopping. They have to compare prices, the attributes, the brands, the particular features of the products. Those shoppers are very difficult to satisfy, and they are the majority of Chinese consumers nowadays.

The third category, I call them Affluent. By affluent, I do not mean their income level. I mean that they are less price sensitive to a certain product, so they just take the highest quality.

If you look into the three categories of consumers, you have to figure out where you want to go. In which segment will you be facing more competition? Is your cost structure, is your production technology suitable for that particular category or suited for another category? You have to figure this out by yourself.

The same consumers may belong to different categories for different products. For example, one consumer can be very picky in terms of shoes. Let's say, a soccer player, he might be very picky in terms of what kind of soccer cleats he can pick. He may be less sensitive because that's the sport he loves. But the same person may be less sensitive when it comes to shirts. He might be OK with an average shirt from Uniqlo. That's good enough for him for his daily life. So for this particular consumer, in the soccer boots category, he is an Affluent consumer. For shirts, he's a Shopper.

So the same consumer might be different categories of consumers depending on the product. So as a foreign firm, when you enter into the market, you have to figure out what kind of consumers you are facing, and if your firm is suitable for that particular segment.
2nd CEO Podium in Horgen with high-calibre experts from the business world
2nd CEO Podium in Horgen with high-calibre experts from the business world
Celebrating Chinese New Year also means inviting interesting management personalities to an exciting panel discussion. This year Peter Moser, Chief HR Officer Saurer Group, Martin Schneider as CEO of Brainforce and the long-time HR Officer John-James Farquharson of ChemChina - Bluestar formed the prestigious panel. The numerous guests enjoyed the stimulating evening between panel discussion, conversations and - traditionally - a delicious Chinese buffet.

This year the Viennese sinologist and management consultant Sabine Zhang moderated the panel on "Globalization of Chinese Enterprises" and the development of a "Global Leadership" mindset. Sabine Zhang has lived, worked and even studied in China for many years - at CEIBS in 1999.

Peter Moser is Chief Human Resources Officer at Saurer Group. The group runs offices in China, India and Singapur. The Saurer Group is a leading globally operating technology group focusing on machinery and components for yarn processing.

Martin Schneider is CEO of Brainforce AG, a pioneer and market leader in the field of interim management. Headquartered in Zurich the company has offices throughout Europe, South Africa, Thailand, and China (Hong Kong and Shanghai). Martin Schneider has been CEO of the BRAINFORCE Group since 2004 and is Chairman of its Board of Directors since 2007.

John-James Farquharson is the former Chief Human Resources Officer of ChemChina - Bluestar and has in-depth knowledge of the Chinese labour market, the economy and the country. He now works for the Rosen Group.

Prof. Katherine Xin, Associate Dean (Europe) and Co-Director of Centre for Globalization of Chinese Companies, CEIBS, opened the panel on the question, ‘which strategic intentions would stand behind those Chinese companies expanding abroad?’ This question was one of the reasons why CEIBS founded its own research center, finding out that Chinese companies behave quite differently. They are not primarily looking for markets, but for resources and capabilities. Then, they withdraw into their home market and grow back into the world market. This procedure causes different integration processes in the post-acquisition phase of takeovers or mergers, in which the Chinese take a so-called "light-touch approach".

Prof. Xin said that China is currently growing organically, improving its consumer products, and building its strategic partnerships.

It is one thing for Chinese companies to make takeovers, but Sabine Zhang asked Peter Moser about the concrete intentions in the case of Saurer Textile. Peter Moser pointed out that Saurer Textile itself had grown through acquisitions. As a well-known brand for precision machines, it became a takeover candidate. In short, there was a strategic intention behind it. The production location was China, later R+D was added. Over 40% of the company's turnover is generated in China.

In response to Sabine Zhang's question as to whether the takeover was a "light-touch approach", Peter Moser said that one had to bear in mind there is a high density of rules in China, which is why compliance is very important. Moreover, not everything is market-driven. Many decisions were based on political intentions.

John-James Farquharson came into conversation with the keyword "politics". He was a foreign executive in a state-owned company at a time when there were only six foreign executives throughout China. He reflected on the early morning call he received while out jogging on morning that led him to become a foreign expert working for the Chinese government. His closest colleague and partner were the party secretary and together they travelled the country, meeting people, making contacts. But the most important thing was to make acquisitions for ChemChina-Bluestar long before the Syngenta deal. He learned, and this was his goal, from companies that were not family-run or privately owned. After all, he said, today he would rather be taken over by a company from China than by an American company.

Then Sabine Zhang wanted to know from Martin Schneider about his experience with Chinese leaders. He could tell stories without stopping, he said; he visited China for the first time thirty-three years ago and described the development of the country as mind-blowing. He works most often with industrial companies that operate in China and have middle management and senior management. During takeovers, discussions quickly revolved around cultural issues for both the acquiring and the acquired company. In view of the rapid development, the question arises whether it has become easier to do business in China. Martin Schneider says: no. No, because the challenges have changed. For instance, role behaviour is ever more important for managers, he said.

One factor that shapes behaviour of Chinese executives is the 1-child policy. Such children are put under pressure by their parents to be successful, but they are also considered sensitive. On education, he said that the school system in China had not changed. Schools do not teach critical thinking, and this naturally influences the later behaviour of managers. So, one or the other management style cannot be applied to both sides. He reports how he once cast a Chinese manager for a German manager working in China. The Chinese manager acted according to military leadership principles. The German was surprised, but the Chinese employees accepted the new manager's actions and the company was able to change.

In the second part of the discussion Sabine Zhang focused on "Leadership and Mindset" asking each of the participants to give an insight into different leadership concepts.

Prof. Xin noted something important: according to her experience, it is often more difficult to overcome inner-cultural than cross-cultural differences. When it comes to leadership principles, China follows three principles. Leadership is paternalistic (not male), authoritarian, benevolent and moral. Authority generates fear and thus obedience. Benevolence creates gratitude and morality softens. This inheritance of hardness and consecration, the Ying and Yang, is very Chinese.

Reflecting on Saurer, Peter Moser said that it was not so decisive who or what was better, the Swiss or the Chinese guidelines. It quickly became clear that the decision-making process was different. In China, you say what you want to do, and you do it. In Europe, the employee wants to know why he is doing something. That's why, at Saurer, they defined values and then realized how much hard work was needed to turn these values into global values.

Martin Schneider also addressed the intercultural element. In Europe, trial and error are widespread. Those who cannot deal with it create difficulties in the company. On the other hand, in China the CEO is always the final decision-maker. The problem here: he or she can be overwhelmed very quickly.

Finally, Sabine Zhang wanted to know from John-James what he would recommend in a Chinese takeover situation.

"We increase the timeliness of our information."
"We increase the timeliness of our information."
CEO Philipp Boksberger on the new communication strategy

CEIBS concentrates the current, decentralized communication at the headquarters. Where is the core for this strategic decision?

The China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) intends in the future to operate even more strongly as a unit, with five campuses on three continents. It therefore makes sense to concentrate and standardize communication. This concerns all communication channels—not only our newsletter but also our social media activities as well as all online marketing and sales campaigns. This is the final and consistent step in the integration of the former Lorange Institute of Business Zurich.

This internal argument makes changes understandable. What are the advantages for the various customer groups of the Zurich Institute of Business Education?

We will increase the timeliness of our information. Our customer groups will receive more and consequently more up-to-date information on CEIBS activities at all five locations. This includes, for example, access to relevant research results from our international faculty and the latest background information on China.

A very important group are the participants in the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA). What will change specifically for GEMBA participants in 2019, or for participants at other local events?

Nothing will change for the local participants. The CEIBS Zurich team will continue to plan and coordinate all European activities of the China Europe International Business School. In view of the expansion of our campus and the associated additional capacities, we are planning many new offerings at the Horgen site from 2020 onwards; in particular, we will be expanding our Excellence Exchange Programs. To this end, we will continue to expand our team in the coming months.
Why Chinese Central Bank Won’t Make Stock, ETF Purchases
Why Chinese Central Bank Won’t Make Stock, ETF Purchases
By Sheng Songcheng*

Rumour has it that the People's Bank of China (PBoC), China's central bank, may have been considering purchasing stock or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) directly from the market. We believe it's neither reasonable nor viable to do so.

Laws related to the PBoC clearly state that it can trade treasury bonds and bonds of other governments and financial institutions and exchange foreign currency on the open market, without explicitly ruling out the possibility of the PBoC purchasing stocks and/or ETFs, but it is not necessary for the PBoC to buy stocks in the market.

First, China's financial system is stable overall. Among the major economies in the world, only the Japanese central bank has made stock and ETF purchases before – something it did in a bid to promote financial stability and monetary easing. In 2017, China called for winning the "three tough battles", among them guarding against major risks, with financial risk being listed as an important example.

Shares on the Chinese stock market have stabilised at lower levels after experiencing a slump in 2018. Valuations are relatively low, but healthy. In addition, China has mitigated the risk of stock pledging (taking loans against shares one holds) through multiple channels. Available buffer funds have also proven to be an effective way to cope with fluctuations in the stock market.

The PBoC has no need to buy stock in this case.

Second, participation of the central bank in trading could amplify existing stock market volatility and interfere with the normal pricing function of the market. Retail investors in China are among participants in the stock market who may be tempted to buy high and sell low, making the market even more volatile. As a result, it does not make sense for the PBoC to acquire ETFs – irrespective of whether they are index ETFs or sector ETFs. Some might argue that the central bank weighing in on the stock market could support development in crucial areas. But industrial development ought to be backed by monetary and fiscal instruments, even industrial policies, instead of appealing to the PBoC.

Third, there are various other options available in the PBoC monetary toolkit. China is pursuing a prudent monetary policy and needs to stick with it. Plenty of other tools, such as reserve requirements (or cash reserve ratio), open market operations, targeted medium-term lending facilities, medium-term lending facilities and pledged supplementary lending, can produce similar results.

The PBoC buying stocks would make monetary policy vulnerable to stock trends, a fact which goes against macro-prudential rules. Prudent monetary policy rather than massive stimulus is essential.

Furthermore, the central bank buying on the secondary market would be like an airdrop which would actually go against the direction of monetary policy, since investors, and not the economy as a whole, would be the main recipients.

Fourth, the practice of buying stocks and/or ETFs would create a market supervision dilemma, affecting the PBoC's neutral position of implementing monetary policy in a system where individuals and institutions investing in the stock market are required to abide by regulations imposed by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

The CSRC also coordinates the buffer fund operations. If the PBoC, which works in close cooperation with the CSRC, were to become a player in the stock market, who would coordinate and supervise all the trading and operating?

Finally, a healthy stock market depends on the systemic reform of public companies and the stock market itself. Listed companies ought to improve their governance and make it their goal to become long lasting companies which are more competitive.

Regulatory bodies need to consider the best ways to deepen market reforms, including regulations for IPOs and trading and tapering mechanisms, in order to build a healthy equity market.

*Sheng Songcheng is an Adjunct Professor of Economics and Finance at CEIBS, the Executive Deputy Director of the CEIBS Lujiazui Institute of International Finance (CLIIF), and a counsellor to the People’s Bank of China.
2nd Start of HEMBA and AMP
New Campus
Study Tours

A new year means new happy prospects; this is true for us and our programs. The Zurich Institute of Business Education, CEIBS Campus Zurich, is on track in all areas. Here's a breakdown of our progress:

Opening of the extended CEIBS Zurich Campus

Our main highlight is that we are getting bigger. The reason: We grow. In line with our plan to gradually bring more participants to the CEIBS Zurich Campus, we began planning the expansion of the CEIBS Zurich Campus two years ago. Construction work will begin in spring 2019 and on October 1, 2019, we will ceremoniously open the new classrooms right next to our existing campus. The conversion of the “Old Lake Waterworks” creates sufficient capacity for all our course participants. On the ground floor there will be a lobby and a hall for lectures and events for 150 people. In addition, there are various smaller workspaces for group work, learning corners for individual learning and offices for new lecturers and employees.

Global Executive MBA

A few weeks ago the third GEMBA class started their 20-month journey across three continents and our five different campuses; and the next class is already in the starting blocks. Next fall, the fourth and newest group of EMBA participants will begin their study at CEIBS.

Hospitality EMBA and Advanced Management Program (AMP)

This year, we held, for the first time, the Hospitality Executive MBA, and next year will see its second iteration. The Dual Degree Program with the Lausanne Hotel Management School (EHL) will start next May. This also applies to the AMP, which began in 2018. The third and fourth modules will be completed by the end of May. The new AMP will start in October 2019, and we have already received numerous registrations for this event.

CEIBS Europe Forum 2019

In 2019, we will again organize five international forums throughout Europe, including Zurich, Munich and London. The Spring Forum in Zurich will be dedicated to the topic: "Innovation: China-Switzerland".

Study Tours

In 2019, we continued our successful Excellence Exchange Program for Chinese executives. We are currently planning 10 study trips. For the first time, we are also organizing a student trip to Switzerland in 2019 for the students of the Full-Time MBA Program in Shanghai.
2018: a busy year for CEIBS Alumni in Europe
2018: a busy year for CEIBS Alumni in Europe
It has been a busy year for CEIBS alumni in Europe:

The first ever Chapter Head meeting hosted at CEIBS Zurich campus in January, set the goalposts for the year ahead. 3 chapter council re-elections occurred with the UK, Spain and France all accepting new leadership.

Professors Xu Bin, Oliver Rui, Zhang Yu, Jeff Sampler, Juan Fernandez and the Honorary President for Europe, Pedro Nueno were amongst the CEIBS faculty who visited Europe and hosted events for the European chapters sharing their insight on an array of hot topics such as such the trade war, singles day and Brexit.

CEIBS 1+1 series launched with European President Prof. Dipak Jain leading events in Munich, London and Paris with his infamous lecture.

Numerous regional meet-ups held including a Design Thinking Workshop led by the Germany chapter, a Chinese New Year banquet in London, the first CEIBS gathering in Amsterdam and dumpling making in Zurich.

Finally, in September the largest CEIBS European alumni reunion to date took place in Berlin where over 100 alumni, faculty and friends of CEIBS from across Europe and China came together united by one common bond: CEIBS.
CHINA INSIGHT by Jean-Pierre Raffarin
CHINA INSIGHT by Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Similarities and differences between Chinese, French, and US leadership, by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, ex-Prime Minister of France

“The history of leadership can be traced back to 1700 BC to the Code of Hammurabi, a solemn, fundamental code of law of Mesopotamia (now Iraq) which states that the powerful must abide by the law and that leaders must be respected.

Historically, a lot of thought has been given to leadership. Confucius proposed many great ideas on state governance in the 5th century BC in China. Also, philosophers such as Cicero diligently studied leadership and people management in ancient Greece. In modern society, leadership is not just a matter of politics, but also a matter of business management.

In a business context, leaders need to inspire team spirit in order to encourage team members to grow and act. As an aspect of business management, leadership is one of CEIBS’ core responsibilities. Many of the professors at CEIBS are engaged in in-depth research on leadership. In addition, the French-based Charles De Gaulle Foundation has entered into a partnership with CEIBS to examine leadership together.

A cross-cultural comparison will uncover different types of leadership. However, we are not going to draw conclusions about which is better or which is worse; instead, we are going to highlight some of the differences as a way to provide inspiration and encourage improvement.

As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French writer and author of The Little Prince, put it, “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction.” The purpose of cultural comparison is not convergence, but idea sharing. At CEIBS, we can help define leadership by learning about both Chinese and European cultures.

Five types of leadership

In general, there are five types of leadership, or five ways for leaders to use power.

The first type is autocratic leadership. I’m your leader and you do what I say. This is how the military is run – subordinates act on the orders of their superiors.

The second type is paterNal leadership. If you are willing to work with me, I will care for you like a father-figure, providing care and help for you. That is, as a leader, I offer you love and respect, and in return, you work for me.

The third type is democratic leadership. According to this approach, we work toge there qual ly and democratically, with work organised in a collective fashion, but still with only one leader.

The fourth type is collective leadership. Here, within the group, there are no leaders, but instead only individuals. The group is led by a team. No one stands in front of, or hides behind, the team.

The fifth type is laissez-faire leadership. In this case, there are no leaders and team members can just do what they want to do.

The US Leadership is a game of success with an emphasis on rules and technique

At American universities there is a wealth of literature about leadership – for example, on how to get the attention of an audience and quiet a noisy auditorium during public speaking. When stepping up to the podium and greeting an audience, former US President Barack Obama often used the words “Hello, everyone”, instead of just “Hello”, as a way to communicate directly with the audience.

For Americans, leadership starts with learning. Everyone can be a good leader. The US way of thinking is that everything can be organised as long as they learn to work, speak, write, arrange meetings, make decisions, manage, and control things.

In the US, leadership is, in reality, a game of success. Plenty of research has been conducted into this area, especially research centred on Obama. As the first Africa American President of the United States, Obama attained the status of both a winner and a pioneer in leadership.

Obama's principles of leadership include the following:
  • Believe you are unique. Uniqueness is not a barrier, but an advantage. Obama, for instance, was able to use his ancestry as a trump card in order to win the US presidential election.
  • Credibility. Show you are capable of leading the country and prove to voters that you can do it.
  • Third, considering that most young Americans prefer to look ahead to the future, as a leader you must constantly express your vision for the future.

In the US, leadership is about creation and reform - two ideas which have often been incorporated into campaign slogans. American leaders are willing to promise changes. They want to grow and improve their leadership in order to help everyone grow together.

Another interpretation of American leadership can be found in The "48 Laws of Power", an international best-seller published in the US. Some of the principles mentioned in this book include: never outshine the master, always conceal your intentions, always say less than is necessary, always pay attention to your enemies, always make yourself indispensable, master the art of timing, and always be unpredictable.

In this way, Americans have established a set of ideas, rules, and practices for leadership.

France: Leadership is heroism

Throughout French history, many leaders have relied on personal charisma as a means to defining leadership. General Charles de Gaulle, for example, exemplified French leadership through his actions.

Charles de Gaulle believed that leadership is important and that nothing great could ever be achieved without great men. Besides possessing innate talent, leaders have the ability to learn from their experiences.

According to Charles de Gaulle, a leader needs to have the following qualities:
  • A leader should be a man of character. He is action-oriented with aspirations and a passion for taking action. He is not willing to just sit on the side-lines. In addition, he cares about decision making - if he becomes a leader, he won’t let others make decisions. A leader welcomes challenges - for only by overcoming difficulties can he realise his full potential. Instead of passing the buck to others or to his subordinates, a leader takes responsibility for failures.
  • Leadership needs to be suited to actual conditions. The environment is essential to the execution of leadership. France is a country full of ideologies where people like to think. However, a leader cannot be limited to one type of thought. He needs to observe the real environment and base the direction of decision-making on that environment.
  • A leader is aware of his fate and knows clearly if he is a leader or not. A good leader is enterprising, daring, and non-complacent.

Furthermore, Charles de Gaulle emphasised authority. He believed that silence is where the authority and reputation of leaders lay. He saw the need to be brief when communicating w ith others. He adv ised against remaining close to others, since a sense of detachment could help enhance prestige. He also believed moral power is important, as it could prevent one’s status and reputation from coming into question.

In his view, being led is a basic need for French people, similar to eating or sleeping. A person becomes a leader not because he imposes leadership on others, but because others want to be led. Great leadership is needed in this kind of scenario.

China: Leadership is the wisdom to take stock of the situation

The 5th century BC was the time of both Confucius and Ancient Greece. At that time, both East Asians and Westerners were interested in the organisation of politics and the distribution of power.

Confucius’ primary responsibility was to act as a consultant for rulers. In the process of doing so, he developed a set of ideas about power, which continue to inspire leaders around the world today. For instance, Confucius believed that without integrity one could not be a leader.

Similar to Charles de Gaulle, Confucius advocated the need for rituals. Leaders require rituals in order to make it easier to lead people. A military parade, for example, is a reflection of a culture that governs a particular country. In France, we also award medals to people for various contributions to society. Such rituals are important.

There is a wise saying about power in the Analects of Confucius: “Lack of forbearance in small matters upsets great plans.”

Wisdom is the pursuit of Chinese thought. Laozi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, had many sayings about leadership. In saying that he should “not dare to be ahead in the world”, Laozi meant one should remain neutral. According to Chinese philosopher Han Feizi, “the ruler must not reveal his desires”. Han Feizi also argued that a monarch’s real power could not be shared.

When welcoming delegations from most countries, I find that the most important person always walks in front. When welcoming Chinese delegations, however, I often don’t know who the most important person is because he doesn’t always walk in front.

In France, leaders are always among the first to rush to the forefront to hold the banner high. In China, however, they often work behind-the-scenes to develop strategies and are responsible for coordinating people in order to get things running.

When it comes to exercising power, Han Feizi believed everything should be done according to laws, which, unlike what we now call laws, were simply a set of rules guiding people’s actions based on collective reasoning. According to this approach, leaders execute projects which serve as platforms for communication and the implementation of collective ideas. On such platforms, leaders merely represent sets of rules.

12 keywords on leadership

Lastly, I would like to say that anyone can be a leader, whether it is in his family, the workplace, or on a sports team.

Regarding leadership, I have 12 keywords to share with you.
First, there are four major features of leadership: courage, creativity, trust, and emotion. Second, there are four areas in which leadership can be applied: strategy, influence, relationship, and exe cut ion. Finally, there are four things which subordinates or teams expect to receive from leaders: respect, belief, stability, and hope.”


Former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who is Distinguished Professor and Charles de Gaulle Chair in Global Leadership at CEIBS visited the school’s Shanghai Campus for a series of academic exchanges from July 6-10. As part of the “CEIBS Insights 2018 Master Class” series of lectures, Raffarin analysed and compared Chinese, French, and US leadership from the perspective of a politician and a scholar. Below are excerpts from his speech.
CEIBS Global EMBA is #5 in Financial Times Ranking
CEIBS Global EMBA is #5 in Financial Times Ranking
Highest-ranked stand-alone programme
October 15, 2018. Shanghai - China Europe International Business School’s Global Executive MBA has moved up nine spots to #5 in the Financial Times’ 2018 ranking of the world’s top 100 EMBA programmes. This is the second CEIBS programme the FT has ranked within the top 10 this year. The CEIBS MBA was ranked #8 globally and #1 in Asia in January. This makes CEIBS the first ever Asian school to have two programmes ranked within the FT’s top 10. In the EMBA ranking released today, the CEIBS Global EMBA is also the highest-ranked stand-alone programme. All four programmes ranked above it are collaborations between at least two schools whose combined data are factored into the results. As the rankings have shown, the independently offered CEIBS Global EMBA offers an increasingly international and diverse experience in providing a world class education with continued improvements being made in the quality of the school’s research.  
“These results confirm that we offer a globally competitive programme,” said CEIBS President Li Mingjun in reacting to the news. “We will intensify our efforts to meet the needs of our students, socially responsible business leaders who are shaping the global economy.”
The annual FT ranking of EMBA programmes is well respected and highly anticipated by business schools around the world as it is seen as a valuable benchmark of their performance. It is compiled every year primarily from surveys of classes that graduated three years earlier. The #5 spot is a historic high for the CEIBS Global EMBA and highest ever ranking of all the school’s programmes. The CEIBS Global EMBA was propelled upwards by improvements in nine of the 16 criteria used in the ranking. These include a better performance in areas which measure the programme’s impact on graduates’ careers and its overall diversity. CEIBS Global EMBA continues to improve in the percentage of international students and the opportunities to broaden their world view by doing classes in various locations around the world. Core courses offered at the school’s campuses in Shanghai, Accra and Zurich are complemented by seven global elective modules delivered in seven countries across five continents. The programme is an integral part of the school’s wider globalisation strategy. 

“Our Global EMBA being ranked fifth in the world is definitive proof that the programme’s unique model works,” said CEIBS Vice President and Dean Professor Ding Yuan. “After three years of hard work since our Zurich campus was established in 2015, CEIBS has achieved synergized and stable operations at our five campuses on three continents. In the future, as the school continues to expand to North America and other regions, CEIBS will better meet the needs of business leaders around the world.”

CEIBS Associate Dean of Global EMBA Professor Nikos Tsikriktsis stressed, “The difference between CEIBS Global EMBA and other business schools is that our students are corporate executives selected from different countries in Asia, Europe and Africa and they form a unique class that is truly global. They benefit from the expertise of a strong international faculty team, and classes in major global cities that are shaping the future of business.” He added, “As the global and Chinese economies continue to develop, the world’s business elite face serious challenges. They can only remain competitive if they fully grasp the importance of, and pursue, opportunities for lifelong learning. In response to economic trends and changes in market demand, we have been proactively optimizing the CEIBS Global EMBA curriculum. Our team is committed to providing professional, cutting-edge business knowledge - both theoretical and practical. We are constantly making innovations to our teaching methods, and have extended the pursuit of knowledge beyond the traditional classroom to build a platform for continued learning."    

In addition to its assessment of graduates’ career progress and school diversity, the FT also ranks schools based on research/CSR, areas in which CEIBS has performed well. CEIBS has made CSR a focus at the strategic level of the organisation, with classes on ethics included as part of the curriculum. Meanwhile, there has been a steady increase in the quality and quantity of research produced by the school’s faculty who have extensive expertise in five disciplines. Their research has been steadily gaining international recognition over the years, with their papers published in world renowned academic journals. Between 2014 and 2017, CEIBS faculty had 125 articles published in top journals. For the last three years, on a list of scholars compiled by the world-renowned academic publisher Elsevier, CEIBS faculty have accounted for a third of the most cited researchers from Chinese business schools in the fields of Business, Management and Accounting, an indicator of the strength of the school’s research capabilities.
“We will continue to strengthen our efforts to engage in rigorous research that has practical implications for the business world and our students,” said CEIBS President Li Mingjun. “We fully recognise that academic rigour is an integral part of our efforts to educate the business leaders of tomorrow.”

News about the ranking came days after the Global EMBA Class of 2016 graduated at a ceremony in Dubai, the first time ever students had their graduation ceremony in the UAE. This was yet another indicator of CEIBS Global EMBA’s reputation as a truly global programme, and CEIBS as an international business school with its roots in China.

The next CEIBS Global EMBA class begins in November 2018.

The CEIBS Global EMBA is a top-ranked, part-time programme that balances China Depth and Global Breadth for high-achieving business leaders who want to take their career and personal development to the next level. With modules available in 11 cities worldwide, a diverse student body from more than 20 countries, and two integrated cohorts running between China, Europe and Africa, CEIBS Global EMBA provides unparalleled opportunities for participants to expand their global network, while plugging into China’s largest business school alumni network.
Contact details   

China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) is among the top international business schools in Asia, where it is the only one to have simultaneously made it to the Financial Times’ top 30 list of MBA, EMBA, and Executive Education programmes.

CEIBS has more than 20,000 alumni from more than 80 countries worldwide, and has provided a broad range of management programmes for more than 150,000 executives both at home and abroad. CEIBS’ faculty team is uniquely equipped to deliver a combination of China Depth and Global Breadth in both teaching and research.

CEIBS has campuses in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Zurich, and Accra.
CEIBS Zurich Campus will be extended and opened in 2019
CEIBS Zurich Campus will be extended and opened in 2019
Two years ago, we acquired the old waterworks building in the immediate vicinity of today's campus. Now the architect's plan is available. The goal: additional study rooms for our campus. Today, students already have to partially move to external places. The renovation of the old lake waterworks makes it possible for all course participants to be taught in our own buildings.

On the ground floor, a lobby hall for 150 people will be built, as well as a large lecture hall and seven study rooms for group work. Upstairs, offices, galleries, and an additional study room are planned. The attic and the basement remain largely empty for the time being.

From the very beginning, it was clear that we respect the character of the old building. We only make necessary changes with regard to future school operations. For instance, we will put in larger windows in the front of the house towards the lake so that the study rooms have enough light. In terms of sustainability, the roof is equipped with a solar panel.

Inside the building, the old will be united with the new. The old water pumps will be integrated into the new building. On the other hand, we will have to remove the former water tanks. Otherwise, we cannot create enough space for the lecture hall and other rooms. Construction is scheduled for January. We hope to move into the new building in October 2019.