Domestic firms on a hiring spree for top-notch pros

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China Investment Corp (CIC), the nation's sovereign wealth fund, has got applications from over 63,000 candidates for the positions it advertised recently, according to information available from its website.

The company started the global hiring process on July 27 for 64 vacant positions in departments such as asset allocation and private equity investment.

It is also the third time that the CIC has embarked on a hiring spree after it was established in 2007.

The first two rounds of hiring in 2008 and 2009 helped CIC to constitute a 246-member team, with bulk of the employees having global work experience and educational background.

The fund had foreign 31 employees from various nationalities on its rolls by the end of last year.

"CIC is an employer of choice. We recognize the company must recruit and retain excellent employees at the global level," Jin Liqun, chairman of the board of supervisors at CIC, said in a recent interview.

Other domestic financial companies are also in the fray to recruit skilled manpower for their operations.

According to statistics from research and consulting institute ChinaVenture Group, nearly 5,000 people are employed in the domestic private equity and venture capital industry.

Of these, nearly 200 are foreigners, who are also usually the director/managing director of the companies.

"Foreign manpower has showed great interest in taking advantage of China's strong growth," said Robert Grandy, Asia Pacific market leader at Korn/Ferry International, an international headhunting company.

He said the company receives five to six resumes every day from professionals who are keen on working in China, compared with one or two resumes for other nations.

"In the long run, irrespective of whether the Wall Street is doing well or not, professionals will still be keen on moving to China," Grandy said.

"People look at China as it is a huge market and a nation that just cannot be ignored," Alastair Watts, managing director for China at head hunting company Antal International, said.

However, the biggest barrier for foreign employees in China is language and culture.

Li Difei, president of Hewitt China, said some domestic lenders who had hired foreign professionals last year had experiences that were not so good.

"Their performance is not as satisfactory as we expected. Most of them struggled to cope with the change in working environment," Li said.

Gary Rieschel, partner of Qiming Venture - a company that specializes in early stage investing, came to China around six years ago. He admitted that there are several challenges for foreigners in the country.

"Foreign professionals may have experience in another market but if they are not experienced in China they will struggle," Rieschel said.

"It is not just the language but an entirely different way of doing business," he said.

Neil Arora, a Yale University graduate who is now working for a domestic PE company, said he faces difficulties in dealing with various Chinese documents and local business negotiations.

"There is a huge cultural gap between the United States and China. I was shocked at first when I saw my Chinese colleagues taking a nap after lunch," he said.

"They dozed off in chairs for around 40 minutes, but you know, in the United States, we never sleep during the day," said Neil.

"But I have learned to doze off at noon now, just like my Chinese colleagues."

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