PJ Neal

Thoughts from a more-than-occasional writer

To Capitalize on China’s Boom, Boards Should Recruit Experts [Agenda]

GE signed two deals late last year to sell jet engines to China’s Juneyao Airlines and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). The sales are worth a combined $2.5 billion, and in announcing them, GE highlighted that “China will displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market in 2022, two years faster than expected.”

GE is not alone in recognizing China’s growth, nor in striving to benefit from it. The nation is home to 1.38 billion consumers. Last year, China was among the top three destinations for venture capital in emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence, financial technology, and robotics, according to McKinsey Global Institute, and it is home to more than 25 percent of the world’s startups valued at over $1 billion (“unicorns,” as they are commonly called).

To Western companies looking to grow in China, it’s hard to overstate just how different doing business in China is from working in the US, Europe, or other regions. To succeed, companies need individuals in the boardroom with China expertise and experience – yet most lack it: Only seven companies in the S&P 500 currently have a director of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, as do just eight of the FTSE350, and five of the ASX All Ordinaries. Overall, just over 100 Chinese individuals are currently serving as directors of publicly-traded companies in North America, Europe, or Australia.

I had the pleasure of assisting Grace Cheng with this article, which appeared in Agenda.