CEO: Digitization, globalization favor China
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