Think global act local an interview with csoft ceo shunee yee

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  • 1. Think Global, Act LocalAn interview with Shunee Yee, President & CEO of CSOFTFate is fair. All men are created equal, but not allmen are able to seize their moment or willing to putin enough effort to materialize their luck. “Y ou know… that’s not how business works,” Yee said, illustrating a graph in the air with sharp ups and downs. “Rather than a static graph, it’s more of a spiral. If it doesn’t climb up, it will slip down. And at every turning point there is a threshold.” Yee is a lady of typical Southern build—delicate, graceful, restrained, and with an artistic temperament. Yet within a few minutes of conversation with her, you can’t help but strongly perceive the incisiveness and acumen of a practical business woman. Under Yee’s direction, the senior managers at CSOFT are fully aware of the fact that they cannot manage effectively without stepping away from their comfortable office chairs. Their boss has led by example, having just personally traveled to Europe to secure a new major customer. And in spite of their flourishing business, they are frequently reminded of the potential challenges inherent in developing a false sense of security. “Bill Gates told his employees about the success of Microsoft. He also often reminded them that, in terms of bankruptcy, Microsoft could be as close as 90 days away,” Yee added. “I can say that, as far as bankruptcy is concerned, CSOFT could be as close as 30 days away. Everyone at CSOFT must maintain a sense of urgency and responsibility, and never let their guard down.” In recent times, Yee told The Week, she has frequently been in contact with top domestic and international investment funds. Revving up for the capital market is her next task— to help her company take the plunge from “good to great.” Shunee Yee founded CSOFT in 2003 with the goal of establishing the company as the world’s leading globalization firm, providing strategic and cost-effective solutions for large enterprises looking to expand their presence in growing markets. Under her leadership, CSOFT has grown from a single Beijing-based office to a global corporation with 14 offices in key locations around the world. Yee is the 2009 winner of the prestigious International Stevie Award for Best Asian Entrepreneur for Women in Business. She successfully completed a senior executive education program at Harvard Business School, holds a bachelor of arts from Nanjing Normal University, and a master’s degree from Rhode Island College.Translated from The Week (东方壹周), Vol. 6, published on August 12, 2011. www.csoftintl.com
  • 2. Q&A Fate is fair. All men are created equal, but not all men are able to seize their moment or willing to put in enough effort toQ = The Week A= Shunee Yee materialize their luck. What I mean by that is that disappointment—or even failure—isQ: I’m surprised to see people of so many part of the bigger picture, and it’s how youdifferent nationalities working at CSOFT’s deal with disappointment that determinesheadquarters. How many foreign nationals whether or not you can be a success.are employed at your company? Havethere been any conflicts at work as a result When making a choice or decision,of cultural differences? you’re inevitably influenced by various considerations. What’s most importantA: Well, in our Beijing office alone, we in my view is how you look at a givenhave employees representing more than opportunity. If you truly believe that it’s20 nationalities, so you can imagine how your opportunity—or your ‘moment,’ sodifficult it can be to maintain a unified to speak—you need to seize it, and workcompany culture. I was once joking with my hard to materialize it. Then in a way, thatteam that at our annual operations summit opportunity—including the difficultieswe should make up our own version that may arise from it—becomes your luck.of Mambo Number 5, as in, ‘A little bit of Regardless of the choices you make, successRussia’s all I need. A little bit of France is all does not come by itself. Dreaming withoutI see,’ etc. In our office, here and there, we hard work will never amount to anything.always hear people say, ‘He is so French’ Recently, I have been in frequent contactor ‘She is so German.’ Whenever I hear At CSOFT, I have come to realize how with investors. This, I feel, has been a greatthings like this, I always want to respond, amazing individual potential can be. period of introspection and reflection. I‘Can’t we all just be so CSOFT?!’ Once This is the proudest moment for me as a often joke that we’re like fish in a tank, butour members learn to possess this kind of manager. When our employees are given feeling good about ourselves is simply notmindset, they naturally figure out how to responsibility for more things, it translates enough. Whether we look good or not, webalance things out. They’re no longer shy into tremendous productivity. When we have to be judged by viewers outside theabout their unique culture, and they learn stimulate, mobilize, and utilize the personal tank. Or in other words we need to trulyhow to better collaborate, compromise and initiative of every employee, the positive understand how others perceive us in orderappreciate each other. impact is much greater than that of any to better realize our value. procedure or system.‘One World, One Market’ is CSOFT’s CSOFT has been growing well. A keytagline. Our business stands at the Witnessing this type of personal growth reason is that, financially speaking, we areintersection of language and technology, among my colleagues is what has helped very principled and disciplined. Becausetouching upon many fields and industries. me stay committed to CSOFT over the of our sound financial health, we are inSome multinational companies are trying years. I strongly believe every individual the perfect position to pick and choose theto sell their products in the markets of with determination and perseverence has investors with whom we’d like to cooperate.other countries, and they want to achieve the potential to succeed on their own. If youthat by simply changing the language can’t be number one or number two in your Many public companies, Microsoft orinterface of their products. But the fact chosen sector, you might want to consider Google for example, went public notof the matter is that there are many other doing something else. Striving to become because they were short on money. Theyareas that need to be changed, particularly the best—that’s the much-needed pride of chose to go public so that they would beareas with culturally relative elements. Take an entrepreneur. able to expand more aggressively and sothe Middle Eastern market for example. that their employees would be able to beFor advertisements in this market, it’s not better rewarded. To me, as a companyappropriate for a woman to appear in a If you can’t be number one or number founder, the relentless pursuit of greatnessshirt without sleeves. Locally, these kinds two in your chosen sector, you might and a sense of achievement are far greaterof things will be viewed as indecent or want to consider doing something than what making money alone entails. Idisgraceful. Because of details like this, else. Striving to become the best— relish in the achievement and satisfaction ofeven for a seemingly simple product, that’s the much-needed pride of an seeing those who have worked and foughtthere’s quite a bit of targeted cultural data alongside of me being well rewarded. Weand regulatory informaton that needs to be entrepreneur. have greatly matured and are ready for thetaken into account before companies can next, bigger step.successfully sell their products overseas. Q: CSOFT recently entered its eighth My goal is that, in the next four or fiveQ: You have mentioned that your company year of operation. The company is doing years, we will be able to rise and enter intois like your second child. We all know that extremely well in terms of profitability. a new phase, and that our new generationparents like to plan for their children’s Have you ever attracted the attention of of leaders will be able to excel. And then,future. I presume that, during the start-up investors? What’s your plan for the future? the even newer generation will be able tostage, it was very difficult to foresee how Any plans of financing or going IPO? further excel, et cetera. This is extremelybig CSOFT would eventually grow to important to us.become. In your view, what are the things A: I’ve been working in the industry forthat have led you to where you are today, some seventeen or eighteen years. Eight In the next few years, many of our staff willand have helped you stay committed? of those years have been with my own continue to grow with us. There will also company, where the growth has been be new faces and new management. ThisA: Getting to where we are today is 100% organic. Naturally, at different company was born in the same year as myprimarily a result of focusing on details, stages of business or life, people have child. In a certain sense, as you mentioned,and doing ordinary things extraordinarily different thoughts and ideas. Frankly, I CSOFT is my second child. My love forwell. Starting up a business isn’t a grand would have rejected the thought of merger and faith in the company will last forever.and glamorous process. It’s very hands-on and acquisition when I first started this This, however, does not suggest that I willin that it’s those little, ordinary things that company eight years ago, because M&As always be the all-powerful frontrunner toyou have to pay attention to. For anything often focus solely on the ROI of investors spearhead our future growth. My personalthat I do, big or small, I’m the type of but not necessarily on the interests of management philosophy is to distill theperson who puts all of my attention into customers, management or regular wisdom of my management team anddoing them well. employees. But truly great companies, prepare it for future generations. I’m very Microsoft for example, have been able fortunate to work with a team that sharesI’m not suggesting that I’m good in all the same dream, ambitions, and goals.areas. Just like everyone else, I run into to bring benefits to all three parties—inmoments of disappointment. But like wine, addition to investors—during the process.people improve with age. When you grow Some great companies are capable ofolder, you’ll get a better idea of the things keeping their market value steady and Introduction to CSOFTyou’re good at. You’ll be more tolerant and beating the market fifteen years in a row. CSOFT International helps companies of all sizes achieve betterable to accept disappointment. These companies are the ones that are penetration in growing markets with an end-to-end combinationPeople have a tendency to be embittered hardheaded, down-to-earth, and focus on of information development, language and technology services.by disappointment, and complain about executing business details well instead of With 14 offices in key locations around the globe, CSOFT relishing in the glamour or spotlight. My delivers quality-driven language solutions with fanatical customerall sorts of unfairness. I use a different service, ISO-certified processes, best-of-breed languageapproach and try to take every aspect of hope for CSOFT is that it will join these ranks as a solid company that lasts. technology and an award-winning multinational leadership team.a problem into consideration. I feel thatTranslated from The Week (东方壹周), Vol. 6, published on August 12, 2011. www.csoftintl.com