I first moved to China back in 2001, which seems like a lifetime ago. At that time I was a consultant for Accenture and was based out of Chicago. When the market softened (this is what we called it in the beginning, but that turned out to be quite an understatement) because the dot com bubble popped, Accenture implemented a sabbatical program that allowed a chosen few to take 6–12 months off to do something interesting with their lives. At the end of their sabbatical these employees were guaranteed that they could return to their jobs at Accenture. I managed to get into the incredibly oversubscribed program and soon moved to Beijing where I studied traditional Chinese martial arts, learned some Chinese, and generally had an amazing time for 6 months.
After returning to Accenture and spending a year on an internal project, I found myself laid-off and in the midst of the worst job market in well over a decade. It didn’t take me long to decide to return to Beijing, where I improved my Chinese, met a beautiful and vibrant woman who would eventually become my wife, and taught English to make a living. Three years of teaching English was more than enough for me, though, so my wife and I decided we were ready for a move back to LA, though it would be the first time she had ever left China.
Shortly after moving to LA I began consulting for Toyota in Torrance, CA. After just over a year of consulting, Toyota decided to hire me on as an Associate, and I spent 2+ years in project management-like roles, and another 2+ years in Strategic Financial Analysis, where we analyzed the financial implications of long-range strategic decisions on the company’s profitability. While at Toyota I also earned by MBA through UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Fully-Employed MBA program, where I focused on International Management and did my best to keep my studies, job, and marriage from all experiencing a crisis at the same time (I could generally handle one of them being in the midst of a crisis at any given time, and even came to expect it).
After I finished school, China kept calling to me. I knew there were a massive array of opportunities in China for an American who spoke Chinese and had nearly 10 years of experience in Fortune 100 companies, so I kept my eyes open for something interesting. In the middle of 2011, the really interesting opportunity I was looking for presented itself and I didn’t hesitate to jump on it. So, in June, 2011, my wife and I moved back to China and I joined Originate China as the Vice President of Business Development and Strategy. We develop innovative mobile and web applications for clients within China and the US. Additionally, we develop our own ideas for mobile and web applications destined for the Chinese and US markets.
This puts me in a unique position to reflect on the differences between approaches in China and the US, and to discuss what from my recent MBA I have been able to directly implement in China, and what I have had to modify. Additionally, Originate’s goal is really to support our entrepreneurial staff in developing their own ideas, and hopefully some day launching their own businesses. We also actively seek entrepreneurs in China so we can work with them to take their ideas from design to fruition. So this blog will include my thoughts on living in China, including the joys and tribulations that come with it. I’ll also add my thoughts on entrepreneurship, innovation, and business strategy in China, specifically contrasting what may work in the US to what works, or doesn’t, here in China.
If you’re interested in talking to me about consulting engagements, speaking, writing, or anything else, please use this form to send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
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