China in Hu Run’s Eyes

胡润看中国

Special Focus - - Contents - Dou Zhen­zhen 窦珍珍

Hav­ing trav­elled all over the Eurasian con­ti­nent, Ru­pert Hoogew­erf re­turned to the Univer­sity of Durham in the UK in Au­gust of 1991 to com­plete his stud­ies. He showed a strong in­ter­est in busi­ness and joined Arthur An­der­sen in 1993, where he worked for seven years. While he was there, he got him­self a Chi­nese name, Hu Run, with the help of his sec­re­tary.

Hu Run had a kind of bit­ter­sweet feel­ing at the men­tion of his seven years in Arthur An­der­sen.

“The ben­e­fit of work­ing in an ac­count­ing firm is, you get to know the size of a com­pany through au­dit­ing, get­ting an indepth in­sider view in­stead of the view of an out­sider.” Ac­cord­ing to Hu Run, dur­ing his three years of au­dit­ing work, he ac­quainted him­self with nearly 30 com­pa­nies, rang­ing from phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies and tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing to en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies and govern­ment agen­cies. By study­ing the fi­nan­cial re­ports and data per­for­mance of the com­pany, Hu Run was able to get a deep and de­tailed knowl­edge of the com­pany’s prod­ucts and op­er­a­tions.

On one oc­ca­sion, while do­ing au­dit­ing work on the de­riv­a­tive prod­ucts of a bank, Hu Run even bought him­self many books in or­der to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the busi­ness.

“I wanted to know the rea­sons

be­hind the busi­ness and the value it could bring. This ex­pe­ri­ence was a great in­spi­ra­tion for me in found­ing the Hu­run China Rich List.” While talk­ing about his ini­tia­tive back then, Hu Run re­mem­bered the dif­fer­ence­mak­ing mo­ment when the idea hit him.

While work­ing in Arthur An­der­sen, Hu Run paid for a Chi­nese teacher to help him im­prove his Chi­nese lan­guage skills. He asked the teacher to talk about a dif­fer­ent topic every time so that the course was com­pre­hen­sive. On one oc­ca­sion, Hu Run wanted to know who the “Bill Gates of China” was, to which his lec­turer replied, “Sorry, I can’t find any­thing re­gard­ing this.”

“I found that in­cred­i­ble. In such a big coun­try as China, how come we couldn’t find a Chi­nese ver­sion of Bill Gates?” Hu Run was so in­cred­u­lous that he turned to his col­leagues.

“My col­leagues in Arthur An­der­sen are all high- cal­iber tal­ents from Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity and Fu­dan Univer­sity, who know busi­ness in China like the back of their hands and are all highly ca­pa­ble in their work, but even they could not an­swer this ques­tion.”

“They didn’t know who the ‘ Bill Gates of China’ was, which ac­tu­ally in­spired me. I mean, maybe I could an­swer that ques­tion. By find­ing the an­swer to the ques­tion, I can also help my Bri­tish friends know a bit more about China’s econ­omy of the time.”

Just like that, Hu Run struck his busi­ness op­por­tu­nity.

In 1999, Hu Run launched his first “China Rich List” which was pub­lished on the cover of Forbes and earned him some fame. In Au­gust of 2000, Hu Run re­signed from Arthur An­der­sen.

For four con­sec­u­tive years from 1999 to 2002, Hu Run pub­lished his lists of the rich­est peo­ple in main­land China in Forbes and gained a huge rep­u­ta­tion af­ter that. Since then, Hu Run has grad­u­ally ac­cu­mu­lated fame and so­cial con­nec­tions as an in­de­pen­dent re­searcher.

“The pro­duc­tion of the list is ac­tu­ally not easy. First of all, I didn’t know peo­ple and lacked a so­cial net­work. I needed to visit a lot of peo­ple and con­tact en­trepreneurs. In ad­di­tion, I was in a strained fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, even though the pay­ment for our writ­ing was wor­thy of one dol­lar per word then. Since I was not a pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ist, it was dif­fi­cult for me to find the right busi­ness model.” Hu Run was not with­out emo­tions while talk­ing about the hard­ships dur­ing the first stage of his en­trepreneur­ship.

“The fig­ure of one’s wealth was con­sid­ered to be a per­sonal mat­ter by many peo­ple at the time. Af­ter I pub­lished the list, many en­trepreneurs con­demned us publicly, be­cause they didn’t want to go on the list. Yet, the list is mean­ing­ful and use­ful, so even though it was not re­ceived well at the very be­gin­ning, we tried our very best to keep it fair and ob­jec­tive.” Hu Run said.

Hav­ing no­ticed the anx­i­ety shown by China’s mid­dle class to­wards ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try, Hu Run had made the first univer­sity rank­ings in China, namely “the Most Suc­cess­ful Univer­sity Alumni.”

“Although some of the most fa­mous tal­ents on the list grad­u­ated from pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties such as Pek­ing Univer­sity and Ts­inghua Univer­sity, 50% of the listed en­trepreneurs grad­u­ated from “the univer­sity of so­ci­ety,” mean­ing these en­trepreneurs earned their “bach­e­lor’s and master’s de­grees” from ex­pe­ri­ence in­stead of school ed­u­ca­tion. There­fore, China’s first and fore­most school should be ‘ the Univer­sity of So­ci­ety.’” In Hu Run’s view, a fa­mous school might be a step­ping stone for a tal­ented per­son, but it is not a ne­ces­sity.

(From StudyAbroad, Is­sue 13, 2018. Trans­la­tion: Lu Qiongyao)

Ru­pert Hoogew­erf ( born 1970 in Lux­em­bourg), also known by his Chi­nese name Hu Run ( 胡润 ), is the Chair­man and Chief Re­searcher of Hu­run Re­port, a re­search, me­dia and in­vest­ments busi­ness, best known for its “Hu­run China Rich List,” a rank­ing of the wealth­i­est in­di­vid­u­als in China.

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