Journal Article | Harvard Business Review | January 2009

From Regional Star to Global Leader

by Nitin Nohria

Abstract

Yang Jianguo was recently promoted from country manager for China to global head of product development at a staid French perfume maker. He was chosen for his technical smarts and his knowledge of emerging markets—a critical avenue for growth, given that sales in the company's core markets have stalled. Eager to succeed in his new role in Paris, Jianguo has lots of fresh ideas, but they seem to be falling on deaf ears. Members of the executive team, for their part, find Jianguo to be largely indifferent to their input. Can Jianguo adjust to this new culture? And can he succeed without sacrificing his identity? Three experts comment on this fictional case study in R0901A and R0901Z. Katherine Tsang, the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai, explains the cultural differences between China and France and recommends that Jianguo push his thinking beyond the Chinese market. She also suggests that the company give all its executive team members multicultural training so they have the tools to understand one another and work together effectively. Mansour Javidan, the dean of research and a professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management, acknowledges that Jianguo's transition would be easier if he had the full support of the CEO, Alain Deronde. But since that isn't forthcoming, he advises Jianguo to work with Alain to develop targets for growth in emerging and traditional markets and a plan for building an infrastructure to achieve those goals. James Champy, the chairman of consulting for Perot Systems, is surprised that a family business would choose an "outsider" for this important post, but he recognizes it as a wise strategic move. He says that Jianguo needs a coach and should focus on learning the home market first, before trying to make inroads further afield.

Keywords: Communication Strategy; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Globalized Firms and Management; Leadership Development; Management Teams; Emerging Markets; Product Development; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; China; Paris;

Citation:

Nohria, Nitin. "From Regional Star to Global Leader." Harvard Business Review 87, no. 1 (January 2009).