Cultural Diversity – Business in Growth Regions
How can business success be achieved in diverse cultures such as Brazil, China and India? Talking to Shobhna Mohn, Executive Vice President of Growth Regions, and Annabelle Yu Long, CEO of Bertelsmann China Corporate Center (CCC), Founding & Managing Partner of Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) and member of the Bertelsmann Group Management Committee, sheds some light on Bertelsmann's business activities in the growth regions.
Since 2012, Bertelsmann has defined the expansion in growth regions as a strategic priority, with a focus on Brazil, India and China (BIC). Corporate Centers were opened in Beijing, São Paulo and New Delhi, to support the Group's businesses in tapping the BIC markets with their enormous economic potential.
Shobhna Mohn is responsible for these growth markets in her role as Executive Vice President of Growth Regions at Bertelsmann. A mathematics graduate who grew up in India and studied at the Business School of Columbia University in New York, she sees geographical and cultural diversity to be a key component for the Group's current and future development: "Alongside our core markets in Europe and the United States, Brazil, China and India are among the ten largest economies in the world. For an international company like Bertelsmann, these markets are a must for long-term growth and for driving innovation."
"These markets are key for long-term growth and innovation"
The demand for digital media, services and education is rapidly increasing in these countries, driven by demographic trends, a growing middle class, and the thriving purchasing power. Accordingly, Bertelsmann is aiming at significantly expanding its business presence in China, India and Brazil in the years ahead. Mobile Internet and e-learning offerings play a key role in these growth plans. "In just four years, we have positioned Bertelsmann as an active player in the relevant market segments, especially thanks to our excellent local management," explains Shobhna Mohn. "It is great to drive the buildup of new business activities by investing in innovative businesses and to see the entrepreneurial passion our managing directors have for discovering and pursuing these business opportunities."
It is also important to be aware of country specifics and cultural differences, says Mohn: "Across all the countries, there are three main challenges: selecting suitable partners sharing our values and corporate governance; dealing with sometimes unclear regulatory frameworks for foreign investments; and finding local top management as well as retaining them long-term."
Attracting and retaining talent is a top priority for Bertelsmann in the growth regions. It can work, as shown by the career of Annabelle Yu Long, CEO of Bertelsmann China Corporate Center (CCC), Founding & Managing Partner of Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) and member of the Bertelsmann Group Management Committee. Long was named as one of China's top ten investors in the TMT Industry in 2015 by China Venture. Together with her team, she has made investments in many innovative companies in China through BAI since its establishment in 2008, with a focus on digital media, services and education.
Annabelle Long has a great affinity to media: She began her career in 1994 as an anchor at the Chengdu People's Broadcasting Group. In 2005, she worked for FremantleMedia and Random House in New York as part of the Bertelsmann Entrepreneurs Program. Only a few select candidates a year are accepted to this 18-month development program for top talents with entrepreneurial experience. They are given the opportunity to build a broad network at Bertelsmann locations around the world.
"A strong and very visible player in China"
In 2007, Long was appointed to head Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments in Beijing; the following year, she was named Managing Director of Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI). She is one of the company's very successful home-grown talents, focusing on a highly attractive market: with 1.3 billion inhabitants, China is the most populous country on Earth, and will soon be its largest economy.
"Bertelsmann is a strong and very visible player in China," declares Annabelle Long. "Rapidly increasing consumption, the growing services sector, and the modernization of the manufacturing sector are the key drivers of progress in this growth market. The BAI fund is a driving force for Bertelsmann's development in China. Not just because of its presence in a dynamic market, but also through the exchange it fosters with the new world of innovation and technology."
Read more about diversity and other corporate responsibility topics in the magazine "24/7 Responsibility" .