Tech, Telecoms and Finance Jobs in Chinese Recruitment Drive
For the past three years, the annual Chinese Business Day has been an ideal opportunity to bring the HEC community and Franco Chinese businesses closer. 2019 was no exception as over 100 people participated in the four-hour event which, for the first time, invited peers from other Grandes Ecoles. “This has been an important stepping stone for me as I start out on my doctorate,” said Yang Di of the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Sciences Po. “I was particularly interested in links featured in today’s debate between consumption, standard of living and political repercussions.”
Yang Di joined fellow students from École Polytechnique and ESSEC, attracted both by the recruitment opportunities and a panel featuring HEC researchers Bertrand Quelin and Jean-Edouard Colliard, the Chinese Minister-Counsellor Yuanyuan Gao and the French-based President of the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM), Zhaohui Fei. “Environmental concerns have become one of the cornerstones of our policies,” exclaimed the charismatic Fei, as he underlined the cost that the world has been paying for air pollution in urban centers: “It all began in London in 1952, now this scourge is hitting Shanghai and Beijing.” Fei outlined the commitment EXIM is making towards eradicating global pollution which includes working with the CMA-CGM conglomerate on nine gargantuan container ships. These use environmentally-friendly fuel thus bringing down their nitrogen dioxide emissions by 80%.
Philosophy and Finance
Green Finance and PPP are industrial fields that asset management firms like the Eiffel Investment Group (EIG) are championing with alternative and high value-added investment strategies. They have exploited segments of business financing that are rarely addressed by traditional firms. Guest speaker at the CBD roundtable, Alexis Rostand leads Eiffel’s Business and Product Development department. Since his arrival at EIG in 2015, he helped structure a series of funds which brought in around €1 billion to the Paris company.
What makes this HEC 2005 graduate’s approach to investment funding singular is his alliance between philosophy and finance. “We identified a gap in the market to fund renewable energy projects,” Rostand told the audience before outlining the links he has constructed between EIG and philosophical ideas drawn from the likes of Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, Karl Marx and Heidegger. “But you can trace these links back much further, they are as old as western philosophy itself. Both worlds touch on responsibility, scientific discoveries and capital labor.”
The director’s unconventional work is at the heart of a company which manages over €1.5 billion for major European institutional investors. After the panel, Rostand elaborated: “Nowadays, I draw direct links between philosophical ethics and ESG, green financing, and so on. For example, I worked on long-term funding of a large fund called Essential Funds that should be launched next summer. It was grounded in agro-ecology and renewables. We structured the fund around the concepts of nourishing, healing and preserving the environment with a very long-term vision, as opposed to the classic buy-out fund that only focuses on short-term returns. At the heart of our philosophy is the transition model which is more sustainable. Other fund companies don’t have the adequate or adapted funding tools and this is the gap we exploit.”
This is a cocktail Rostand has been sharing with HEC students for the past year in his course on investment philosophy. After the panel, he was upbeat about possible developments to his teaching: “This exchange has inspired me to explore Chinese philosophy and its players in the same way I have been using the essentials from European, Greek and Judeo-Christian philosophers both as a practitioner and a teacher in alternative financial areas exited by traditional financiers.” Although Rostand made no mention of it, the 37-year-old can also draw on his ancestry for inspiration: he is part of an illustrious family lineage which includes Edmond Rostand, author of the classic play Cyrano de Bergerac. The EIG academic promises to invite HEC students in next year’s class to compare Chinese and Christian approaches to philosophy and finance in answering challenges like setting up PPP or analyzing utility of investment.
Huawei Commits to France
Another highlight of this CBD forum was the exchange between a packed auditorium and Weiliang Shi, Director General of Huawei France. The mercurial entrepreneur heads a company of over 1,000 employees at Boulogne Billancourt after spending almost a decade as Huawei DG in the Central African Republic. “Succeeding in the CAR was very much the pillar of my success at Huawei,” he declared. “It proved that you can build a vibrant business in a place where people have little money, stability and smartphones. We’re so proud of that achievement. Now, France has become a huge asset for the company. And we’re counting on you to join the adventure.”
Huawei is offering 20 internships for its graduate program and Shi insisted the HEC profile was perfectly adapted to integrate his company seamlessly. “We are enlarging our activities so that Huawei goes well beyond the smartphone. Glasses, television, car components for electric vehicles are all part of our future strategy and we welcome your agility, enthusiasm and ambition. After all,” he concluded, “I am under 40 years old and already a CEO, there’s no reason you cannot emulate this.” The 36-year-old noted that an essential feature of managerial style is adapting to local culture. “In France over 50% of our employees are from here. And this includes a healthy proportion of people with North African roots which only enriches our cosmopolitan culture.”
After the exchange with HEC students in the campus S building, Weiliang Shi discussed further explorations of common ground with HEC Associate Dean for International Development, François Collin. “We need the talent your school nurtures,” Shi repeated. “This includes developing our R&D department, this open laboratory we’ve created in Boulogne.” Collin insisted signature events like Chinese Business Day reinforce HEC’s commitment to developing the school’s relationships with China, built on exchanges with Chinese companies and higher education institutions. He will be visiting the country at the end of March, aiming to build on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2018.
Co-organizer and vice-president of the HEC Chinese Business Society, Yue Xu said she was delighted with the turnout for this fourth edition of the CBD. “We felt it was important this year to focus on green finance as it is one of the core values of the “One Belt One Road” and its sustainability development component. For the students, this is a unique opportunity both to have close-up exchanges with some of China’s leading entrepreneurs and to enjoy debates which are at the heart of the country’s incredible development. We are proud to have built on last year’s success and hope this energy will make edition number five an even greater success.”