i love crystal <3
If there’s any truth I discovered this time, it would be that time passes by agonizingly slow when I’m waiting, waiting for it to end and go back to what I love. That already gives a pretty obvious hint of how my summer 2012 had been. Nevertheless, it was made busy with various unique and valuable experiences from which I learned a lot.
My work experiences in WangFuJing Shopping Center and ShunChen Mall are absolutely rewarding. Given the privilege to work at the core department of both companies and have access to all top bosses, I gained practical business knowledge from first hand experience – something schools can’t provide. I learned from everything I did: collecting and analyzing mall statistics, planning strategic mall development, figuring out the market’s pulse, selling cloths at Marc by Marc Jacobs, befriending with basic staff, and getting private lessons with top bosses; of course, it’s all made possible by no other than Papawang; big thanks to the old guy.
Back then, running Kingpin Ltd gave me a rudimentary business structure mode. Logically, Kingpin is broken up by different duties. I already realized the flaw in such clear-cut business structure from noticing that, more often than not, close collaboration is needed between very different function groups, and creative ideas spark from such unorthodox teamwork. Kingpin’s structure was designed to be clear-cut with very specific duties assigned to different individuals, yet everyone had to have a basic idea of what and how others are doing in order to stay on the same page with the rest and provide quality service. It’s easy when a team is small, but not so when it comes to a publicly traded corporation of 12 billion in production every year. Steven Jobs was aware of the importance of close collaboration between separate departments, that’s why he insisted on making every hallway in the Apple headquarter lead to the central lounge, believing that such collaboration happens on the basis of face to face interaction. In the super shopping center chain WangFuJing, departments are made efficient with distinct functions: finance, human resource, investment programs, daily operation management, and miscellaneous. Miscellaneous comprised of small function groups that alone are not big enough to form departments. Statistic collection and analysis happen in this department. This small function group, in my opinion, acts as a rope that ties the whole corporation together, keeping everyone on the same page. It does so by collecting and extracting meaning from operational statistics, converting large volumes of meaningless numbers into reports that reflect the health and trends of the corporation’s business. Such reports come in daily, monthly, semi-annually and annually, giving it the versatility to reflect small, short term changes and big, directional trends. Keeping everyone on the same page through such statistical reports is rather efficient for a corporation so large. However, WangFuJing doesn’t go beyond this. The blocked up cells of different departments and lack of common space where random, ingenious encounters take place make it hard to employees do interact. And the lack of truly well planed social events makes personal connections among employees from different departments difficult to establish. Coast Capital Savings does a fantastic job at giving employees a harmonious environment to make friends and a home sense to the company they work for. Personal connections are established through social events and sparks of collaboration are given the air to ignite. Such social events make the company more than a work place to employees, and inspire them to contribute to the “family” in ways none monetary. A big corporation can benefit from its size, but also suffer from it. For example, documenting retailer’s contract is a big hassle. Every contract and its required certificates are manually organized and kept in a large alcove. The miscellaneous department in Kunming store long wanted to write up a computer program to electronically manage the contracts, but the corporate is already working on something similar. Such specific problems may be better solved by the smarts in basic positions, but the corporate can’t sacrifice its discipline for it – everything has to be in one wavelength. I think such discipline is only good for keeping everyone in one direction; otherwise the corporate should encourage such grass-root inventions to foster creativity.
Having lived and worked in China for three months, I saw quite a few interesting things about this society. First is the unique “state controlled, privately managed enterprises”. All key factors of the economy are dominated by such state-backed giants. I once read an article on the Economist about this uniquely Chinese style enterprise, and the view on it was quite positive: it has the advantage in laws, regulations, and government affiliation, yet it is just as efficient and competitive as any private enterprises. Such model is the perfectly molded to fit a country of absolute central power, in which key economic factors like tobacco, alcohol, agriculture, banking and etc can be closely monitored while staying competitive in the free market. On the flip side, China’s creative small business sector is pathetically overshadowed by these giants. The whole society, due to tradition and education, lacks the creativity to invent and the boldness to try. Little to none leading edge technology or creative business ideas come from China. Although China deserves credits for converting itself from a “cheap-labor factory” for the world to a first class “high-tech manufacturer”, it still lags behind in the ability to innovate and to create. Given that, let us not be fooled by China’s grandiose image as world’s second largest economic entity; it still has tremendous room for development. Plenty successful business models and ideas is still to be learned from the west; tremendous fortune still can be made from inviting in the west’s successes and modify them to fit China’s market. The old time of getting rich over night from doing just fundamental businesses is over. Having worked at Shuncheng Shopping mall, I realized that the Chinese market is already somewhat mature that the old time miraculous fortune stories are almost impossible to imitate anymore. For example, clothing brand dealers only make 5 % to 15% profit, given that their business is not losing money at the first place. And such margin is achieved by assiduous hard work, meticulous management, abundant experiences and acute senses for market trends. It rings the bell that the new pathway to fortune is creativity; otherwise, to thrive in tradition businesses is extremely hard in today’s China. Unlike inventive business that builds its success upon avant- garde, creative produces, traditional business’ “uncopiable advantage”, as many people would discuss, lies in good management and size. One store yields 5% to 15% is nothing, but it’s quite significant when it’s a chain of a hundred stores. And the expansion beyond the first couple stores is usually quite easy and rapid. In China, fortune can be made in traditional businesses a lot easier than in the west because initial investment is significantly lower, and expansion is much easier. In today’s China, there are still plenty of loopholes in its law and regulatory systems than doing business in such murky water is still much easier than in the west; one must learn to take advantage of them without betraying the underlying morals.
As painful as it had been to live in China this summer, I still can’t deny that it’s still the best place to make money. And objectively speaking may be it’s not even the environment here that bothered me so much; can’t be together with the one I miss so much is more painful than anything else. Who knows, I might come back, but certainly not alone.
Jaguar had been and always will be a true sports car company - may the E-Type glory return.