A well-managed labour force is the key to success for a multinational, and executives are constantly striving to improve their strategies in handling workers across a range of countries and cultures.
    The Fortune Global Forum held in Beijing on May 17, 2005 opened with a special discussion session entitled "Creating a Global Work Force". Hosted by David Kirkpatrick, senior of Fortune, the five guests included Diana Farrell, director of McKinsey Global Institute, Victor Fung, President of Li & Fung Limited, John B. Menzer, president and CEO of Wal-Mart, Lakshmi Narayanan, president and CEO of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation, William G. Parrett, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Charles Prince, CEO of Citigroup Inc.

    Deloitte's talent strategy:Internal discovery.
    Host: Among all kinds of problems that a company must take into account, the most complicated is staff management. Mr Parrett, what are your ideas on comparing Chinese employees with a global work force? How can you create a corporate culture for a multinational?
    Parrett: Creating a global work force is an important task. New population characteristics will influence China and even the global work force market in a short time. However, the potential talent shortage is continuing to deteriorate so enterprises have had to change their capital strategy. During the 1990s, we learnt that we should scramble to recruit talent. Yet future scrambles for talent should not confine their focus to recruiting talented individuals but also to retaining them. Enterprises should pay attention to discovering employees with potential internally, then train them and make use of these talents in an appropriate way, as well as match them with other departments. In conclusion, enterprises should expand their abilities, providing themselves with unexpected new opportunities, so as to ensure that their talents become more and more excellent.
    Our business in China has been developing for years. Many members of our staff are foreigners, who successfully co-operate with their Chinese counterparts. Roughly 80 to 90 per cent of our staff in China are Chinese nationals, who understand the partner relationship and naturally accept our culture. We also have co-operations with Chinese members in management, and they are treated equally as copartners. As an enterprise providing a service, we must treat our employees with care, which is important both legally and in terms of co-operation.

    Globalized company's management principle.
    Host: Mr Prince, what is your opinion on the division of global and local businesses?
    Prince: Our company came about as the result of a merger, so our employees came from different companies. We reckon that the pluralism of employees is useful for the development of an enterprise, as well as posing great challenges. We respect everyone's background and differences, but still find a common ground on the basis of pluralism. We stress this common ground, strengthen training and internal communications, establish a unified evaluation system, and aim to take better control to achieve balanced development.

    Menzer: As a global provider, we expect to become localized and develop into a local company. One of Wal-Mart's recruitment standards is competency in English language. We have many talents around the world. The only way to get them acquainted with each other is by convening them. However, I think that there should be other ways to solve communication problems.

    Host: Ms Farrell, can you explain the research results of your study of global work force?
    Farrell: Some businesses may have to recruit overseas, but they should first learn whether or not an overseas work force can fit into the company and decide the proportion of overseas employees. Apart from that, salary is a factor that cannot be avoided.

    Host: Mr Narayanan, as CEO of an Indian company whose directorate members are from many countries, what challenges do you expect to encounter in the future?

    Narayanan: We started as a small local company. To achieve success in this kind of background, you must first find the most suitable people, then you must be close to your customers so as to create a harmonious relationship with them, and thirdly you should unify your culture. Our CFO is an American, and another man at the wheel is British. Yet this team is able to agglomerate and we will definitely continue to co-operate.

    Globalization of local talents
    Host: I feel that if we form such a global market, there will be a torrential interflow of staff.
    Farrell: We have done some researche on the percentage of college graduates who are capable of working in multinationals and it differs from country to country. It's not only a technical problem, such as training, but is also dependent on how you can reserve these talents.

    Narayanan: Our biggest office is in South Africa. We try our best to train local personnel, with 400 employees each year taken for training all over the world before returning to South Africa. However, we have a different method in India. For example, if an employee in one of our subsidiaries possesses specific skills that are required elsewhere in the global network, we will relocate him to that place.

    Victor Fung: It's very important to understand local markets for our business. We expect to find local management talents and make them globalized.

    Farrell: Many companies equipped with a rational view of market are aware the market is global and that they should take into account the importance of leaving footprints in different places. The practice of dispatching staff overseas is out of date, and it's now better to make use of local talents and globalize them.

    As one of the important agricultural bases in Fujian, Longyan, located in the province's Western part, will launch a large number of agricultural projects to lure investors at home and abroad during the ninth China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT).
    The city has pledged to make good use of the ninth CIFIT, which opens today in Xiamen, as an important platform to help projects find partners, Lei Chunmei, acting mayor of Longyan, said yesterday.
    The city has recommended a total of nine key agricultural projects to the organizing committee of CIFIT, Lei said at the city's promotion meeting yesterday in Xiamen.
    The projects, that range from the cooked meat production line and construction of pollution-free tea farms, to the production of dried sweet-potato processing for export, will require a total investment worth US$36.1 million.
    At present, the city has a total of 407 agricultural enterprises, which yielded an industrial value of 3.9 billion yuan (US$481 million) last year.
    "Development of the agricultural industry in the city needs more funds from domestic and foreign investors, and we are optimistic that more agreements in the sector will be reached at the fair," said Lei.
    Lei said the domestic and foreign investment will also help the city strengthen its leading role in the agricultural sector in the construction of the Western Economic Zone of the Straits, which was initiated in early 2004.
    In addition to attracting investment for its agricultural development, the city will also promote its industrial projects and infrastructural facility projects.
    A total of 32 industrial projects, with a total investment of US$650 million, will be promoted at the fair.
    By using more foreign investment for capital projects, Lei said the city is also set to develop itself into one of the leading industrial bases in Fujian Province.
    In another development, the city is also seeking domestic and overseas funds for a total of 14 transportation infrastructure projects.

    "As a city in Fujian linking Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces, Longyan plays an important role in Fujian's economic development, and enhanced transportation development will help Fujian have more economic and trade co-operations with Guangdong and Jiangxi," said Lei.
    By the end of 2010, all towns and counties in Longyan are expected to have direct railway or expressway connections to other cities within Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi, according to Lei.
    Longyan, covering an area of 19,000 square kilometres, has been exerting efforts to improve its investment environment, as well as to accelerate economic development over the last few years.
    In 2004, the city's GDP (gross domestic product) reached about 34.8 billion yuan (US$4.3 billion), an increase of 10 per cent over the previous year.
    According to Lei, the city will also hold the second "Investment in Longyan" promotion fair, in a bid to further attract investment both from home and abroad.
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Editorial Department of International Investment Express for the ninth China International Fair for Investment and Trade
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