China / Career

Curious what other guys just starting out are thinking about China, other emerging markets.

"Watch for China to become the world's center of private equity within five to 10 years, according to David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group."

My gut is that this a boat you can only catch if you are from China, India, etc and have native grasp of the language. Disagree?

Also, would country level exposure be easier to gain via a hedge fund career (vs private equity)?

Despite misgivings about the ability to succeed of nonChinese in China, I am a strong believer that being in the right place at the right time is often all it takes. Trying to figure out if there is anything I should be / could be doing.
Options would be:
* independent language study (already comfortable with Japanese)
* MA / MBA
* Trying to work in Hong Kong

Comments (12)

Jun 15, 2010 - 6:51pm

no one gives a shit about native grasp of bahasa indo, thai, hindi, sinhala, urdu, etc.

mandarin (or cantonese), japanese, korean, etc might give you an edge within very specfic contexts. but apart, from that, stick to english.

Jun 16, 2010 - 12:01am

If you are comfortable with written Japanese, I don't think it takes long for you to learn written Chinese, which is perceived as the hard part.

Jun 16, 2010 - 12:41am

Everything in China has to do with connections and network. I've heard people mention it before, but I don't think most people can fathom what type of ties you have to have to get business done in China...although less now then in the past.

The more people you network with that have business connections the better off you will be, even more so then speaking Chinese (either dialect).

I spent a summer in China and got to see some pretty awesome things because an acquaintance of friend of a friend of a friend to my professor had a father that belonged to the party and was a high ranking official in the Chinese domestic crime agency (basically, the Chinese FBI). We had police escorts through the city, ate high priced meals free of charge and toured some manufacturing facilities for various companies including Toyota and Motorola. We also played soccer in some professional soccer stadium that is used by the Chinese national soccer champs (at the time). Had a blast but the one thing that was stressed the whole time is that you have to build a relationship with someone before they will ever do business with you.

Now, as I mentioned above, this is probably changing as the West begins to have a larger influence on the way they operate but I would never under estimate the benefits of being connected in a Communist country.


"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan
Jun 17, 2010 - 10:50pm

Your best bet is to try and get into a top global ibank or PE fund in hong kong. There you can get exposure into chinese deals and learn mandarin at the same time.

the other option, if you do not speak mandarin, is to get in at the MD / executive level. Look for US banks and PE firms looking to expand in the region.

Jun 25, 2010 - 4:31am

While DB does give out a translation "assignment" during final interview, it is not the determining factor in the offer decision. They also give out a really long arithmetic test that no one finishes. It is all part of their protocol so that idiots like ZIRH could make a post about on WSO. Make no mistakes about it, if you show them you are not a moron and are willing to learn, they will hire you.

I personally think it is easier, for an American, to start his/her career in the states, move up the ranks, and then move over as a MD. You avoid all the BS politics that happen underneath you and don't need to worry about the language barrier. You work alongside the guys with the crazy connections instead of being one of them. Most MDs at BBs are white in HK from what I know.

Superday at a BB in HK included a economic research report translation test, where you translate from english to mandarin.
Jun 25, 2010 - 9:18am

just speculation... things may change in next 10 years. while now there's need for white MDs to relocate to HK, IBD in China in 10 years may be dominated by locals. There are not enough local experienced MDs in China, because 10 years ago there were very few Chinese juniors in IB.
Plus... not sure you would want to move to HK in your 40s. you will have your family to look after.

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