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Outsourcing: Jean Cholka, President and CEO Of Freeborders (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, Sep 5th 2010

By guest author Tony Scott

An International Workforce in China

Tony: Since you were a product company at one point in the past, have you thought about marrying the trading product technology you have created along with the expertise you have developed from providing consulting and outsourced services to create a unique offering?

Jean: We do that in the non-financial services space already. That’s part of why we picked up working on packages, because we get into the life cycle and understand the packages and how they are being used until it becomes like part of our DNA. We do attempt to keep that core competence, and it has served us well in working with software product companies. A lot of the big ones already have been selling directly into China – selling to Chinese companies. But for the ones that couldn’t do a direct China play, we’ve been able to play a role there helping them get into the market. In the future, it would be interesting to get into the video gaming space, digital advertising, and similar segments. I don’t know exactly how to get there, but it’s interesting.

Tony: Those are obviously fast-growing markets in China. But if you look at the opportunities in China that you would like to try to attack, how does it all work from a human capital viewpoint?

Jean: We continue to build our consulting capability, and we have a way to do that because we have been doing it for a long time. In terms of talent overall, more and more you can hire the talent you need in China. Before you had to hire mostly in the United States, and take people across the ocean. But the kind of key skills we need are increasingly coming up in China. We are hiring for China now both in the U.S. and in China, and the skills of candidates in China are getting better and better all the time. Visas are always an issue, but that doesn’t get too much in the way for the most part.

Tony: Do you see a lot of companies bringing people from the United States back to China, and Chinese living abroad going back to China?

Jean: We tend to attract people who have come to the United States for their education, or to work, or both. They want to be affiliated in some way with a company that has a connection to China. They like that U.S.–China thing, and they find us. So, it’s not really hard for us to find people. Sometimes we have trouble finding someone in the region we want, so people have to be willing to move, but we have attracted quite a few of these kind of people.  It’s fun to hear their stories and understand their lives. They are very interesting. And it’s increasingly easy for Americans or anybody in the world to go live in China. We have one particular client who needs language skills from several different places, so we are happy to go Portugal, France, and so forth. I got somebody from Brazil, got a couple of people from Mexico, one from Spain, and they are all there in Shenzen.  We also have a couple of people from the UK. We also have a French-speaking client that is using us in China: it’s a China-to- China contract, but our client is French speaking – and we’ve been able to handle that.

So, it’s interesting.  It is becoming a very small world, very flat.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Outsourcing: Jean Cholka, President and CEO Of Freeborders
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