By 2020 Australia will have only 1 city with a population greater than 5 million, China will have 93. This is not surprising considering 14 million Chinese each year migrate to cities in search for work. That is a lot of people, 126 million in the years leading to 2020, but where will they all work? Most likely in one of the 50,000 new sky scrapers scheduled to be built by 2025.
As with all massive social shifts in history, economic shifts follow close behind and the new rich quickly make a significant fortune. For the Industrial Revolution it was Carnegie, in the Information Revolution, Bill Gates and in China today it is going to be... you.
Political editor Malcom Farr of the Canberra Press Club, quotes a China ‘expert’; “if you are in the construction industry and do a TAFE course in basic Mandarin, you could become a billionaire”.
Whilst that may certainly be the truth and the fortunate case for some, it is more likely that a large construction company will send an employee to China to manage an international contract rather than a TAFE graduate chasing the gold rush alone.
Mandarin language is merely a fundamental expectation for expatriate employees. The more important consideration for organisations is to arm their people with a full stocked cultural tool belt in the form of diversity training.
Understanding the cultural nuances of how to conduct conversation, meetings and transactions may make or break a project. Even something as simple as the length of time to hold direct eye contact or how to cross legs when seated, can position your staff as either rude or collegiate.
Just because we’ve become successful in one market, does not guarantee our success in another, unless we first become masters of cultural diversity.