Alumni of the Week

Combining cultures

Cherry Yan


VP China

Flokk

BI-Fudan MBA 2009

“Efficient communication, so that staff feel motivated and so that the head office in Oslo knows what’s going on 10,000 kilometres away in China.”

Europe’s leading manufacturer of high quality workplace furniture, Flokk, has its headquarters in Oslo. Consequently, good communication is essential for the company's China chief Cherry Yan.

Tekst: Mikaela Hincks
Foto: Tim Franco

You are Vice President of Flock in China, a Scandinavian company. What would you say is the biggest difference between Scandinavian and Chinese company culture?
– Flokk is less hierarchical, with mutual respect between colleagues. The tradition in Chinese culture is to respect the elder or senior, it is impossible to say no to a supervisor. In Scandinavian cultures, everyone has the right to speak out.

And how would you describe yourself as a leader?
– I see myself as a democratic leader. I encourage my team members tobe  involved in the decision-making process. This way, we can learn from each other and find brilliant solutions. As a colleauge I am trustworthy and enjoy being around my colleagues.

What is the biggest challenge in representing a foreign company in China?
– Finding a path to acknowledge different cultures, respect them, and let them co-exist.

You have been in the retail industry for many years. How has retail developed?
– It is a dynamic market, and we have to keep up with industry trends. For instance, 15 years ago I worked for a mail order company. It was a huge success at that time, but now it seems strange to place an order over the phone. Online shopping has developed tremendously and has changed Chinese customers’ shopping habits.

What personal skills are vital in your position as Vice President?
– Efficient communication, so that staff feel motivated and so that the head office in Oslo knows what’s going on 10,000 kilometres away in China.

Any milestones in your career?
– Studying at BI and Fudan was a big milestone in my career. I believe the experiences I got from the BI-Fudan MBA programme have been a huge advantage when working with Scandinavian companies. Another milestone is when I joined Flokk, first as Retail manager and later as Vice President China.

How do you incorporate your MBA skills in your present career?
– I use the methodology and theories we were taught. Both directly and indirectly. They have become a big part of the tool box that I draw fromevery day, at work, but also in other aspects of life.