Placement Archive

Chinese networking firm required a multicultural regional VP replacement

The Client

A Chinese technology company handling network technology equipment used by enterprises and service providers was looking for someone to take over their 40 person Japan organization which was being run by a Chinese GM sent by the headquarters.

The Challenge

The Chinese national heading up the client’s Japan operation had no experience or understanding of the local culture. That’s why they needed an open-minded and truly multicultural Japanese national who could fit into the company culture and to the local culture of Japan, both of which were very different.

He or she would need to have experience growing companies through difficult transition periods, and would need an excellent reputation in the local market. This would be important in building credibility for the client which at the time was perceived with suspicion.

The fundamental challenge for this search, however, was identifying strong candidates who would be open to working within a company that was not only Chinese in origin, but one where most foreign market initiatives were directed by the HQ.

Our Solution

By highlighting both our strength and human network within the client’s industry space, as well as our research capability, the client selected us as their best option to run the search.

Our first objective was to fully understand how their interviewing style and process would differ from that of most Western companies. We strongly encouraged the client to keep in mind the cultural mindset of the candidate pool, most of whom would be resistant to working within a Chinese company. Together with the client we created an approach that would demonstrate a more flexible style rather than one that would feed into the stereotype of being highly aggressive and insensitive to cultural norms.

Our team delivered a detailed account each week of every candidate approached and the status/result of each.

The client agreed that timing was critical. They needed to move on excellent prospects immediately rather than accumulate candidates into a shortlist and potentially lose a prospect.

In the end, we placed a bicultural Japanese-Chinese candidate meeting all the product, management, reputational and relationship requirements of the client into the role. The client had felt there were few individuals if any in the market who could bridge the competing interests of the 2 cultures but upon completion of the search they saw this candidate as the perfect fit.

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