CEO: Dig­i­ti­za­tion, glob­al­iza­tion fa­vor China

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - Huhaiyan@chi­

Pierre Nan­terme said China’s slow­ing eco­nomic growth gives him no cause for con­cern, and he sees it as be­ing ex­tremely well placed com­pared with other coun­tries.

“Yes, China’s GDP growth has been slow­ing, but I am con­fi­dent that it will re­cover,” said Nan­terme, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the global man­age­ment con­sult­ing, tech­nol­ogy ser­vices and out­sourc­ing com­pany Ac­cen­ture.

“The coun­try will main­tain its mo­men­tum if the tech­nol­ogy trans­for­ma­tion is suc­cess­ful. The main thing is that growth is made sus­tain­able, and this is ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing in China.”

Nan­terme, 56, was in China re­cently on a three day visit, dur­ing which he met sev­eral high-level Chi­nese gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, and said he sensed con­fi­dence about the coun­try’s prospects, too.

“They have big plans in mind, and I de­tected no ner­vous­ness in any of them. When I look at what is im­por­tant for a coun­try to be­come strong, you need strong gov­ern­ment, cap­i­tal in­vest­ment, good ed­u­ca­tion, ad­vanced science and tech­nol­ogy, lead­ing com­pa­nies and in­vest­ment for the fu­ture, es­pe­cially in the dig­i­tal area. I see all of th­ese things com­ing to­gether in China.”

Nan­terme said he ex­pects China to play a big­ger role in the world thanks to dig­i­ti­za­tion and glob­al­iza­tion of Chi­nese com­pa­nies and their move from man­u­fac­tur­ing to more val­ueadded ser­vices.

“There are many new driv­ers for China’s fu­ture growth. When talk­ing about the driv­ers, clearly all the lead­ers that I met al­ways re­fer to In­ter­net Plus and go­ing more dig­i­tal. This is all about achiev­ing more sus­tain­able growth through us­ing tech­nol­ogy, mov­ing up the value chain and de­liv­er­ing more value-added prod­ucts and ser­vices, as well glob­al­iz­ing big Chi­nese com­pa­nies.

“I think China can do bet­ter if it con­tin­ues de­ploy­ing dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture. I have seen the qual­ity of 4G, and it is amaz­ing. If you want to be­come a dig­i­tal coun­try you need to con­tinue to im­prove dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture. You need that vi­sion.”

Chi­nese small and medium-sized com­pa­nies need to do more to adapt to the dig­i­tal world, he said.

“Putting in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture is well and good, but by it­self that is not enough. You need more com­pa­nies, and not just big ones, to adopt it. There is no doubt that in China big com­pa­nies are go­ing dig­i­tal. Yet com­pared with West­ern coun­tries, SMEs in China still lag be­hind in dig­i­tal­iza­tion.”

Im­ple­ment­ing the In­ter­net of Things, or ad­vanced con­nec­tiv­ity of de­vices, is an­other way of mak­ing the growth of man­u­fac­tur­ing in China more sus­tain­able, he said.

“China needs to move to the next gen­er­a­tion of pro­duc­tiv­ity. The ad­van­tage the coun­try has en­joyed with the low cost of its la­bor can­not last long, and it is not enough for it to main­tain its com­pet­i­tive edge in the long run.”

China is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in Ac­cen­ture’s op­er­a­tions, he said. It em­ploys 10,000 peo­ple in the coun­try and has a pres­ence in Bei­jing, Chengdu, Dalian, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shang­hai, Shen­zhen and Taipei.

“In China we have dou­bled the size of our busi­ness in the past five years, and our suc­cess is based largely on clients’ in­vest­ments, es­pe­cially in new tech­nol­ogy and sciences,” Nan­terme said.

Nan­terme rep­re­sents Ac­cen­ture in a num­ber of ex­ter­nal venues. Since 2011 he has served on var­i­ous task forces for the B20 Sum­mit, which com­prises top busi­ness lead­ers from the G20 coun­tries who in­form and ad­vise the G20 on key global is­sues from a busi­ness per­spec­tive.

He is a mem­ber of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Coun­cil and chairs its IT Gov­er­nors Steer­ing Com­mit­tee.

He also serves on the steer­ing board of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s Euro­pean Cloud Part­ner­ship and is a mem­ber of the Wall Street Jour­nal’s CEO Coun­cil.

De­spite the de­mands of his cur­rent role, he said, he al­ways tries to strike a bal­ance be­tween work and other parts of his life.

“The work-life bal­ance is some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary. It is a ques­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tion. Once I am back home I switch to my pri­vate life. I fo­cus on my wife and daugh­ter. Some lead­ers work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s not for me.”

Ac­cen­ture, which em­ploys 323,000 peo­ple world­wide, and which was floated on the New York Stock Ex­change in 2001, has a cur­rent mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of about $60 bil­lion. Ac­cen­ture serves more than three-quar­ters of the For­tune Global 500 and 89 of the For­tune Global 100. All of its top 100 clients have been clients for at least five years and 95 have been clients for at least 10 years, the com­pany said.

Nan­terme said he re­gards Chi­nese busi­ness­peo­ple as highly en­ter­pris­ing and com­pares them fa­vor­ably with their West­ern coun­ter­parts.

“China is about the long term, and the rest of the world is more about

PIERRE NAN­TERME the short term. If you look at the US way of think­ing, it’s to do with the short term … about now, and what to do in the next hour.

“In all the talk about smart cities, Chi­nese are ask­ing what is next, what needs to be done for sus­tain­able growth. Else­where it is more about the sta­tus quo. In China the talk is about what needs to be done to be more suc­cess­ful. It is about how to be com­pet­i­tive to­mor­row. That is very much the Chi­nese men­tal­ity: in­no­va­tion, look­ing to grow, ag­gres­sion — in the good sense of the word — and the de­sire to get ahead.”

Chair­man and CEO of Ac­cen­ture Age: 56 Ed­u­ca­tion: 1981: Mas­ter of Science in man­age­ment, Ecole Su­perieure des Sciences economiques et Com­mer­ciales, Paris Ca­reer: 1993-2005: Se­nior roles in Ac­cen­ture’s Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices op­er­at­ing group 2005-07: Ac­cen­ture’s coun­try man­ag­ing direc­tor for France 2007-11: Group chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ac­cen­ture’s Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices op­er­at­ing group 2011: Ap­pointed CEO of Ac­cen­ture 2013: Ap­pointed chair­man and CEO of Ac­cen­ture Fa­vorite flim: Plein Soleil ( di­rected by Rene Cle­ment, star­ring Alain Delon Fa­vorite book: Fa­vorite mu­sic: Blues, es­pe­cially Buddy Guy

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