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2017 Fall MIB-workshop: Organizational development of domestic Joint Venture

On Monday, November 13th, 2017, the MIB program welcomed Mr. Richard Zhiyu Yin, General Manager of Yanchang & Shell Petroleum Company, to the campus of Shanghai Jiao Tong University for a speech e on “Organizational Development of Joint Ventures in China”.

During his talk, GM Yin focused on his 5 years’ experience at the helm of Yanchang Shell. When he started, Shell’s Chinese operations faced significant performance issues, including poor financial results, high employee turnover and low team morale. As he phrased it, 4 employees were doing the work of 3 employees, but only getting paid with the amount of 2 employees. Even worse, the company experienced a significant incident at one of its Chinese sites shortly before he assumed his new job. As he took the job as a GM, and met with his employees through a series of town-hall meetings, Mr. Yin had to decide how to lead this struggling company and his entire team out of this difficult time.

As a leader, he decided to initially focus on answering a critical question: “When was the last time I had a meaningful impact on an organization?” Through some critical reflection, he decided he wanted to focus his leadership on improving three areas: People, Performance, and Values. To address these areas, Mr. Yin decided to take his team through a multi-stage recovery. First, he started the “Journey of Discovery”, primarily focusing on addressing the company values. Mr. Yin strongly believed that without a set of core values, trying to address any other areas would be fruitless. He focused on staffing his team with colleagues who shared his “WARRIOR” spirit (勇士精神), and instilling his team with a “can-do” winning attitude. As Mr. Yin tackled the company’s organizational problems, he then decided to implement “Eudemon”, a process through which he and his company’s managers took various teams to visit various industry leaders in China including Tencent, Huawei and Hai’er. Through these various company visits, Mr. Yin and his teams had the chance to learn about industry best practices, including ideas on how to improve the workplace experience, and ways to foster innovation. At the end of this process, Yachang Shell experienced a true turnaround. Not only did they turn losses into profits, but their net profits grew by a multiple of over 30 over the span of Mr. Yin’s leadership, compared to an industry average of only 5 to 6 times. After the turnaround, he now describes the work environment as 2 employees, getting the salary of 3 employees, doing the work of 4 employees.

At last, to the audience, comprised of both international MIB and local Chinese students, Mr. Yin said that, as the world becomes more globalized, opportunities will be available to those with a more global background, regardless of national origin. This is particularly true as Chinese companies begin to open up to the rest of the world, and expand their international operations. All in all, the students gained a great perspective from this talk, learning about the challenges of joint ventures operating in China, as well as valuable knowledge in leadership.