Millennials shaking up corporate culture in China

Updated: 2014-11-26 12:07

By Zhang Yuwei(China Daily USA)

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Every time Emily He, the chief marketing officer of Saba, travels to China, where more of her company's clients are headed, she sees changes.

Her most recent observation is how much Chinese millennials have been changing the society, especially in the Chinese corporate culture.

"I noticed how similar those (Chinese) Millennials are to their counterparts in the US and many other countries," said He, whose company provides a "cloud-based intelligent talent-management solution", its website says.

Millennials - or Generation Y - is a reference to the generation born between the early 1980s and sometime in the early 2000s.

"Because of the social tools, they are much more connected to the rest of the world than before, so they understand how things are done in other parts of the world; they are seen as much more open-minded, creative, and ambitious," said He.

Elmira Bayrasli, the founder of the World Policy Institute's Global Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Project, said that young people in China communicate across various social media platforms, and that has made them more aware of global developments that will help China's corporate success.

"Connecting on social media, however, isn't just about knowing what's going on," said Bayrasli, a New York-based author whose book Steve Jobs Lives in Pakistan on entrepreneurs in emerging markets is due out next year.

"Ideas build on ideas," she said. "Information is as much about knowledge as it is about growth. The more we are aware, the more we can contribute and grow," Bayrasli added.

Saba, which provides a software platform for enterpriselearning, collaboration, performance, andtalentmanagement, serves American multinationals such as IBM, HP and Yum! Brands, all of which are expanding in China.

"We go where our clients are going," He said.

In recent years, Chinese companies of all sizes - both private and State-owned enterprises - started using Saba.

Haier, a consumer electronics and home-appliance maker headquartered in Qingdao, is a "long-standing" client of Saba, He noted. More state-owned enterprises that He has been working with - including PetroChina and China Construction Bank - "have put a lot of emphasis on talent training".

Cheng Lixin, CEO of ZTE USA, the North American subsidiary of the Shenzhen-based telecom equipment giant, said the company's global success largely depends on having the right talent who should - like the growing Chinese Millennials - have a global perspective. "The right talent means those who fit in best and those who understand the Chinese culture and local market," Cheng said.

Many of the 300 million Millennials in China hold leadership positions in companies of all sizes, He noted.

"They are very aware of how things are done in other countries, and they very much want their employers to incorporate some of talent management processes," He said.

Chinese Millennials, who have gone through the tremendous economic transformation in the world's second-largest economy, have many reasons to be positive, bold and mindset-changing as they push for a modern talent management style in corporate China.

"There will be an impact - this generation will impact the way Chinese companies are building their brands and Western companies are building their brands in China," she said, adding that they will be in a better position to help Chinese firms expand globally.

Not only do they have an impact on Chinese firms, they also are the hope of many multinational expansions in China.

Millennials shaking up corporate culture in China

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, a German multinational software firm, calls China - which is among SAP's top five revenue generators - the company's second home and says he is betting on the young generation.

"(They) form the backbone of the Millennials that will change the world," McDermott once said in an interview with China Daily.

A report focusing on Millennials in emerging markets, including Russia, Brazil, India and China, by research firm JWT Intelligence showed that China's Generation Y carries a strong entrepreneurial spirit.When respondents to the survey were asked what they would do if they had trouble finding a job, 74 percent said they would start their own businesses.

More and more, Millennials in China want to see that "some of the Western or modern talent management processes are reflected in the company," He said. "Unless you offer them that, they are not going to stay in the company for a long time."

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