How to find the right CEO for China?

Every country has its own cultural specifics that a business leader will need to be aware of. When looking for the right person to head a foreign branch, boards and other hiring managers should pay attention to important distinctions in work culture that make a big difference in the long term. In these cases, companies should remember to find the right candidate for this location, which means taking local possibilities seriously.

In an interview with the BBC last February, Lily Li, the CEO of the Chinese networking site Tanji, discussed the specific challenges that foreign executives face when they come into China to manage a local office. According to her, communication issues between the leadership in any company and the rest of the staff lead to roadblocks if not corrected.

She goes on to acknowledge multiple difficulties of settling into professional life in China when arriving from abroad, such as relocating a family and getting used to the ways that workers here communicate with superiors via lengthy emails.

"Often foreign CEOs step right off the plane and into an office full of Chinese co-workers," Li said. "They have no idea who they are, how they work or how qualified they are. This can be confusing. CEOs need to take the time to speak to their staff, understand their new environment before they try and manage them."

This could point to the advantage of finding a business leader in the target country to head a new branch, since someone already familiar with local workers will likely have less of a problem adjusting to the role.

In any market, locating a CEO candidate that meets all requirements of a position strengthens the likelihood that the person will be a good fit. YES Partners has experience with global executive search for various positions around the world, including in China.

"A few years back the requirements were more to find folks who were willing to move overseas," says EJ Dieterle, CEO of YES Partners. "However, over the past years there has been a trend to find more local people worldwide."

Finding people is easy, but finding the RIGHT people is not. YES Partners helps companies FIND the right people – for all company functions, across many industries and globally.

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