- Category: My China Life
When the history of the 20/21st centuries is finally written, the remergence of China could well be the biggest headline of all. Moving roughly 20% of the world's population from underdeveloped to world-class status in about three decades is an extraordinary accomplishment; moving China from the periphery of the action to the center of the stage, in that same short time-period, is probably beyond precedent, certanily it was unimaginable to those of us who were living there at the onset of the reforms!
We -- my family & I -- first moved to China in the Summer of 1980. We had three little kids and the experience changed all of our lives. We were part of a team that was sent to China by the U.S. Department of Commerce to help establish the National Institute for Industrial Science and Technology Development at Dalian. I remained a part of this effort through 1984, which required stays in China each year during that period. From 1985 on, through the present, I have spent time in China each year -- 37 years straight -- working and observing China's development experience for a variety of sponsors, including multinational and Chinese corporations and international development agencies [particularly the World Health Orgnization]. It has been a great privilege to watch and participate in this story!
In 1997, I accepted the position of Executive President and Dean of the China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and remained at that school until the end of 1999. CEIBS. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and manage in a fifty-fifty joint venture and was like going back to graduate school. CEIBS has proven to be a world-class institution over the years and being a part of this adventure, at a very early time in its evolution was a unique experience. I wrote a comparison of the Dalian and CEIBS experiences in: “To Change China Redux: a tale of two cities,” Education & Training, vol. 41, no. 6/7, 1999. In 1999, I was awarded Shanghai's Silver Magnolia Award, the city's top award for foreigners participating in its development.
Since relocating back to Europe in 2000, I have remained active as an observer and participant in China's evolving story. In 2013, I coauthored [with Umberto Lago and Fang Liu] a book on Haier's story of continous reinvention entitled Reinventing Giants [Jossey-Bass]. I have also been continuously involved in leading groups of EMBAs and corporate teams to China for immersion learning in the economy.