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China’s Shift Towards Innovation-Led Economy Depends On Adoption Of World-Class Ceo Leadership Model
Heidrick & Struggles Delegation Joins World Economic Forum in Tianjin

HONG KONG - September 9, 2014 – In recent years, the Chinese Government has stressed the importance of embracing innovation to enhance the country’s economic development. Many companies in China have transformed themselves from low-value manufacturing organizations to innovation-driven businesses in order to achieve a competitive edge, while some have even emerged as global innovation leaders.

Heidrick & Struggles  (NASDAQ: HSII), a premier provider of Executive Search, Leadership Consulting and Culture Shaping services worldwide, is a strategic partner of the World Economic Forum. As such, Heidrick continues to lead the conversation on “leadership innovation” with China’s most successful companies at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin.

Six Heidrick & Struggles consultants from the Consumer Markets, Industrial, Technology, Financial Services and Leadership Consulting practices will participate in the annual World Economic Forum gathering of top business leaders from September 10 to 12. They will join 1,600 participants from 90 countries in considering the power and value of innovation in today’s dynamic business environment. 

“Many companies in China have sharpened their focus on innovation. Today, companies in China are moving away from low-value manufacturing, reverse engineering and ‘me-too’ approaches. With support from all levels of government and lessons learned from developed markets and multinational peers, Chinese companies have leapfrogged to become innovative powerhouses. They have redefined sectors and industries such as mobile technology, e-commerce, social media and entertainment,” said Karen Fifer, Global Managing Partner of the Consumer Markets Practice and leader of the Heidrick & Struggles delegation.

“In general, there is a strong talent pool of local executives in China. However, there is still a deficit at top management levels. Finding senior executives with the right set of skills, strong leadership competencies, an international mindset and extensive local know-how remains a challenge for many multinationals as well as local enterprises. Many of the best-in-class leaders that fulfill these stringent requirements often tend to opt for entrepreneurial pursuits, which has made competition for top talent in China extremely fierce.”

In 2012, China surpassed the European Union in terms of the percentage of GDP spent on R&D, spending 1.98% or almost US$165 billion. In 2014, China will account for 17.5% of the total R&D spending around the world. At the current rate of growth, China could be spending more than the United States on R&D by the end of the decade.[1] The focus of all this investment ranges from customer experience, to products and services, to systems and processes, but is always powered by people and the leadership of companies.

“Successful CEOs share common innovative traits. They are visionaries who are able to see the hidden business opportunities in the future. They are courageous, willing to take calculated risks and eager to bring a fresh focus to leadership in China. They put a greater emphasis on being effective communicators and motivators. Today, executives need to be able to articulate their vision clearly, have a robust talent strategy, understand how they can galvanize great internal firm momentum and be aligned towards a common goal,” said Linda Zhang, Partner-in-Charge, Heidrick & Struggles’ Shanghai office.

Heidrick & Struggles has developed an ‘innovative CEO leadership model,’ based on years of research, observation and conversations with the most successful Chinese corporate leaders. The model suggests a number of qualities that define innovative CEOs and C-suite executives:

    Entrepreneurial mindset: The most innovative executives take calculated risks, think long term, are committed to their strategies and are willing to fund them.
    Clear vision: They identify and define their vision and objectives, and outline what they want to achieve and how to achieve it.
    Empowering and energizing: Innovative CEOs and executives create an empowered organizational culture that rewards creative thinking. They instill a company culture that allows and encourages employees to take risks and think out of the box.
    Effective leadership: These CEOs identify gaps in the innovative talent within their organizations, and take the right steps to develop and nurture capable R&D and innovation departments.

“CEOs in China should be committed to the development of innovation, and lead an effective top-tier team that devises and implements the company’s innovation strategy. At the execution level, executives that drive innovation and R&D need to stay current on the latest technologies, and continue to be leaders and influencers in their fields,” said George Huang, Partner-in-Charge of Heidrick & Struggles’ Beijing office.

“Organizations need a clearly articulated vision that encourages employees to adopt, improve and contribute to a culture of innovation. Setting the organizational tone, the management team should be committed to developing and recruiting innovative talent,” continued Huang. “Chinese companies need to be courageous and strategic in recruiting top R&D talent from overseas. They need to embrace diversity.”

Heidrick & Struggles partners are available for interviews. Please contact Karen Lau or Lily Siu for more information.

About Heidrick & Struggles:
Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (NASDAQ: HSII) is a premier provider of senior-level Executive Search, Culture Shaping and Leadership Consulting services. For more than 60 years, we have helped our clients build strong leadership teams through quality service, deep insights and our relationships with talented individuals worldwide. Today, Heidrick & Struggles’ leadership experts operate from principal business centers in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. For more information about Heidrick & Struggles, please visit


Media contacts:
Karen Lau
+852 2103 9329
+852 6748 0888

Lily Siu

+852 2103 9339
+852 6393 4620