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Jérémie Ni, founder of ChinForm

Intermediary of cultures

 

In the wake of the culture shock experimented after arriving in France, Jérémie Ni found the tools needed to create a successful company. He arrived from Shanghai and is the founder of a recruit firm specialised in Franco-Chinese relations.

 

Between national cultures and company cultures

With his efficient expressiveness and warm smile, Jérémie Ni has the face of the radiant entrepreneur. When you hear his perfectly fluent French, nothing can tell how difficult the ordeal of adaptation has been for this native of China who arrived in France 30 years ago.

Jérémie Ni arrived from Shanghai after he received a scholarship in the late 80's to study in the foremost business school ESSEC. A brilliant student, he studied with no particular difficulty, but was confronted to a relational obstacle.

"Cultural codes are very different. I mistook the direct way the French have to express an idea for aggressiveness, even enmity. I did not know how to make the first step and I made many mistakes. "

After he graduated, the barrier of multiculturalism became a key to an international career. He was recruited in the Renault group as business engineer. In the 90's, China started a spectacular growth and the car industry became a key sector. Jérémie Ni became a major player to create bridges with the Chinese partner of the group.

"Working in a French company allowed me to learn the subtle details of Western culture to make business. However, relations were still very tedious. So I concluded that the best way to make the most of this double knowledge (French and Chinese), would be to create my own company. "

 

Sinautec and ChinForm: changing a double culture into an expertisejeremie_ni_400

Over the last 15 years, interest for China has grown while the country gained economic power. Jérémie Ni's roots have become a professional asset. In 2005, he created Sinautec, a consulting firm for French companies looking to expand in China. PSA, Renault, Veolia, Suez, Danone… China had become a strategic market and Jérémie Ni positioned himself as a preferred contact for some of these groups.

"The French are much more focused on the short term than the Chinese and sometimes don't seize opportunities due to lack of confidence. You also need an open mindset to manage the Chinese cultural paradoxes. This knowledge is critical to stay competitive. That is what I teach to French companies."

Jérémie Ni started to prepare the employees of his client groups for the Chinese experience. Nevertheless, the outcome was clear: the cost of expatriation did not meet the performance of these uprooted French. Jérémie Ni then decided to create a recruitment firm.

Created in 2010, ChinForm is different from its competitors in human resources management through precise specifications. Its ambition is to offer French company Chinese profiles capable of materialising implantation in Asia. To this day, the company of three collaborators relies on a network of over 22,000 Chinese trained in the best French school institutions.

Success is instant: two years after its creation, ChinForm gave birth to a fair. Carefully selected young graduates rush on the stands of Danone, Dior or Decathlon. 1,200 French companies have already settled in the Middle Empire, which means that Jérémie Ni still has a lot to do.

"The Chinese market is tough and the government often puts obstacles in the way, but my role is to convince French companies to hold the line, because in 30 years, China will still offer as many opportunities."

 

A catalyst for economic dialog between France and China

In 2015, the proportion of Chinese students in France exceeded the proportion of Moroccans and became the first student foreign nation. Today, they are 31,000, registered in higher education and the Quai d'Orsay estimates 80,000 registerations by 2020. The French ministry wishes to create a Francophile talent pool and to open the doors of this colossal market.

Jérémie Ni has already understood the significance of this political and commercial potential and... has experimented it. His first failures gave him the means to create trainings of a new kind. Every month, Jérémie organises dinners, debates and conferences to talk about intercultural issues that separate France and China. Jérémie Ni thus offers young Chinese the keys that he himself did not have 30 years ago.

"The Chinese lack communication skills, while in France, the most important thing in a company is marketing. I also encourage the youngest to calm their ego, as the Chinese are very emotional, and French recruiters may wrongly perceive this ".

Allowing such a dialog with China to French companies allows to offer amazing business opportunities. With his all-time enthusiasm, Jérémie Ni has adopted French culture and now participates in implementing it in his country of origin. An atypical entrepreneur who still sometimes "stumbles in cultural gaps", but knows how to get back on tracks.