Eurasian Connections- Chongqing ten years later by Ermanno Vitali

The first time I visited Chongqing was in 2007. Just for a couple of days on a business trip during my first job experience in China, when I was living in Nanjing, Jiangsu. I remember a “dark” city, very foggy and incredibly crowded.

I was again here few times in 2008 and 2009 and my memories of the city are pretty the same as the first time.

At that time, I couldn’t imagine that 10 years later I would have lived and worked there. At the beginning of last year, in fact, I was appointed by Ansaldobreda for the GM position in their Joint Venture in this city. To be honest, I wasn’t so excited about the idea of going to work in Chongqing, but the project of managing a JV was very motivating.

I was amazed when arrived here. The city looked immediately different: less polluted, more sunny and with a lot of green. I found quite quickly a nice apartment were my family would have moved soon after my arriving, close to a very big private school (3.600 students!! More than my hometown residents…) where my older daughter would have started her first year of primary.

The welcoming by the JV was nice: the leaders of the Chinese partner company introduced me to the team as well as they helped on settling down in the city.

After one year, I am able to list pros & cons of living and working here:

PROS

· Exciting business environment: Chongqing is a fast growing city, much above the average rate of other Chinese cities. By the way, Chongqing has been very recently added to the group of Tier 1 China’s cities, along with Beijing and Shanghai. Working here is a great opportunity to improve many of your personal and professional skills.

· Improve Chinese language: I can speak and understand basic Chinese, but unfortunately I cannot write it. Living here is giving me the great opportunity to improve it. But I am much more proud of the fact that my daughters are already able to speak it fluently and also started to write it. To be a bilingual child is one of the luckiest skills you can get.

· Cultivate my passion: I felt in love with China since my first visit in 2005. I believe it is a feeling spread to me by my father who came regularly since early 90s, and always told us beautiful stories about this great Country.

CONS

· Slow process of making decisions:We are in a 50-50 joint venture, and the most difficult thing is to find the compromise between the different points of view of the shareholders. Most of the time it happens what an old Chinese saying sentences: ”Sleeping in the same bed, but having different dreams”.

· Trust between partners: Roughly 80% of all joint ventures in China end in a sale by one partner to the other. Why? There are many reasons: divergence on objectives, differences on management culture and style, imbalance in investments and know-how brought into the JV, etc. But I believe that the most negative factor is the trust. It is common to see that the Chinese partner, after few years of cooperation, start a parallel business and force the foreign part “to abandon” the project.

· Pollution: obviously a city like Chongqing has not the same natural environment of my small hometown, a tipical Italian village surrounded by the green hills and very close to the sea. Chongqing has an average Air Quality Index of about 100… An AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality and below 50 the air quality is good.

I look forward to the next 10 years in China: maybe not in Chongqing, but surely one thing will be there… “ganbei!!”.

Written by Ermanno Vitali GM at Ansaldo Breda- Chuanyi JV in Chongqing, an example of how Italy and China can built fruitful and positive relations

This article was already published on Ermanno Vitali’s LinkedIn page