Friday, November 22, 2013

An Israeli Managing In China

Chinese-Israeli Relations

Chen Lichtenstein: "When people start working together, they need to choose one way of doing things and take decisions about how to address challenges. But most importantly, they need to do so in a fair and transparent way."
Credit: China Daily USA
SourceChina Daily USA

An article ("Israeli manager sows the seeds of success"), by Wang Zhuoqiong, in China Daily USA shows how well China and Israel can work together, citing the example of an Israeli executive, Chen Lichtenstein, who is now managing one of China's largest state-owned companies, an agribusiness.

Wang Zhuoqiong writes:
That is why Lichtenstein, president and chief executive officer of China National Agrochmical Corp (CNAC), a strategic business division of ChemChina, also known as China National Chemical Corp, seems perfectly comfortable in the almost entirely Chinese environment within which he operates. In 2011, CNAC completed a merger transaction with MAI, Israeli-headquartered Makhteshim Agan Industries, the world's seventh largest crop-chemicals company, through which CNAC became MAI's controlling shareholder.
The Stanford University doctoral degree holder of both the Graduate School of Business and the School of Law, said he is inspired by his new mission, which includes the study of CNAC's Chinese subsidiaries, making investment decisions and building up research and development, distribution and manufacturing foundations. Lichtenstein admitted that 10 or even five years ago, if one were to predict his present position, he would not believe it. Yet now, as his thinking has evolved and his level of understanding and trust increased, alongside the support received from CNAC management and colleagues alike, he said the ability to execute jobs and the vision of what needs to be done motivates him enormously.
"What I am doing is learning, doing one-on-one interviews and interacting a lot with management and other colleagues, which helps me see and understand the SOE (State-owned-enterprise) and better connect with my team," he said. His understated confidence comes from the orderly integration process that CNAC and MAI ran in the past 18 months - a process that emerged from study to design and execution. During this period, which resulted in his recent appointment, Lichtenstein led the integration on behalf of MAI, being MAI's deputy CEO. He realized the surprising similarity between the people of China and Israel.
He said one of the similarities between China and the Israeli people is the long tradition and heritage based on thinking, wisdom and, to an extent, a peaceful way of achieving progress through communication, dialogue and the facilitation of agreement. Respecting individuals and family values serves as another connection between Chinese and Jewish cultures, he said. A third common point, which builds upon the others, is thoughtful leadership.
"I do not feel I am representing a culture that is conflicting with the Chinese culture when operating in China," he said. "The Jewish people have almost always been a minority, and found ways to work with other cultures."
This is a point that cannot be overemphasized, and gives essential meaning to the idea of strategic thinking. Often, when a western business enters a foreign market it tries to bring its ideas and ways of operating to the domestic nation. With a large, both geographically and demographically, nation like China this strategy will never be successful. It is both important to find a common denominator, usually in the ways of values, and then take the best from both nations' history.

The fact that both China and Israel value education, reflective thinking, hard work and action makes this relationship more than a business one. I am not surprised by Chen Lichtenstein's success in China and expect many more such alliances between the two nations in the future.

You can read the rest of the article at [ChinaDaily].