Mr. Philippe D. Monnier graduated from Wharton and Harvard Business Schools; he now owns a consulting firm Monnier Business Consulting. He has worked for Greater Geneva Berne area (an economic development agency) and Schindler Management Ltd. And it’s a great honor for EurAsia Info to have an interview with Mr. Philippe D. Monnier.
EurAsia Info: Mr. Monnier, it’s such a great hornor to have you here. Could you please give us some introduction about yourself and your experiences?
Mr. Monnier: I am an international business executive of Swiss and Mexican nationalities. I was raised in Japan, Switzerland and Mexico; I lived in about 10 countries including about 2 years in China (Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou)
Mr. Monnier： I worked for large global groups (e.g. as Senior Vice President at the Schindler Group) and I had my own e-business companies. I also worked in the para-public sector during 5.5 years (i.e. Executive Director of the Greater Geneva Berne area i.e. the economic development agency of Western Switzerland).
Mr. Monnier： Currently I devote my energies to four intertwined activities related to international business: a) Chairman or Member of the board of five international companies/organizations; b) Management Consultant; c) Book author and business journalist; d) University Lecturer.
EurAsia Info: Would you like to share some experiences in China or with Chinese people and companies?
Mr. Monnier: I have been travelling regularly in China since 1992 and I can tell you I was completely flabbergasted by the growth of China, by the progress made by the Chinese economy and by the global ambition of Chinese people. All this is truly admirable but of course it also created some issues for instance related to the environment.
EurAsia Info: What kind of impression do you have on China? Did you experience a culture shock?
Mr. Monnier: Not a cultural shock but obviously communication can be a challenge, in particular with the old generation. Besides, even if a Chinese speaks in a good English, we Westerners do not necessarily understand his messages with clarity even if we understand each of his words. Of course, this is much less of a challenge with the young generation of Chinese who has lived in the Western world.
EurAsia Info: What should the European people pay attention to when they want to do business with Chinese?
Mr. Monnier: In my view, if one does not truly like China and the Chinese people, he should even not try to do business in China or with Chinese. In China, like elsewhere, it is essential to build personal relations first and this takes time and can only be based on sincerity; it is very easy to do it for somebody who likes China and nearly impossible to achieve for somebody who does not like China. Once many good personal relations have been built, everything else is so much easier.
EurAsia Info: What kind of consulting services do you provide?
Mr. Monnier: As board member or as a management consultant, I work for an array of international and highly successful companies. Usually, I help them to use Switzerland as a platform for international business. Concretely, I support them in many areas: overall strategy and business process redefinition; acquisition of key clients, partners or companies; personal policy and attraction & selection of key managers; resolution of cultural issues; adaptation of products to local markets; brand building in Europe; contacts with the press; etc.
EurAsia Info: Nowadays, many Chinese companies want to expand their business in Europe. In this regards, what are the advantages and disadvantages of Switzerland?
Mr. Monnier: Overall, the Swiss economy is a very good platform for regional headquarters such as European headquarters. According to the World Economic Forum, (WEF), the Swiss economy is ranked as the most competitive in the world.
Mr. Monnier: Advantages of Switzerland include the following elements: overall stability, good reputation and strong national brand name, flexible labor law (i.e. easy to terminate employment contracts), diligent and multilingual workforce, good infrastructure, competitive taxation, quality of life and, most important, strong ecosystem in many industries (life sciences, micro and nanotechnology, information and communication technology, financial services, etc.)
Mr. Monnier: Our main disadvantage is our high cost. For this reason, Switzerland is not a good place for functions such as low-cost manufacturing; On the contrary, Switzerland is more adequate for high-level functions such as headquarters and high-quality manufacturing.
EurAsia Info: In 2013, China and Switzerland have signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In your opinion, what kind of changes has it brought to the two countries?
Mr. Monnier: Most Chinese think of Switzerland only as the country of chocolate, mountains, luxury watches and banks; thanks to this FTA; Chinese business people realize more and more that Switzerland is also a country for international business and trade. Therefore, this FTA is excellent in terms of increasing the awareness of Switzerland as a business location.
Mr. Monnier: In terms of other benefits such as the reduction of import duties, I must conclude that the advantages of this FTA are rather moderate. This is based on a detailed study of this agreement as well as discussions with many companies.
EurAsia Info：thank you very much for sharing your experience with us!
Photos and Article By：EurAsia Info team