China – A Trade Mission with a Difference

by | Apr 23, 2019

  • Applications are closing soon for CATIC’s 2019 #ListenLearnConnect Trade Mission to China
  • Last year’s event demonstrated China’s openness to trade and innovation
  • Opportunities were found in traditional and non-traditional sectors


The China Australia Trade Investment Council has launched its call for applications for this year’s #ListenLearnConnect Mission to China – Senior Women Leaders – A Trade Mission with a Difference, 14th to 20th September 2019.

This year there will be more a focus on innovation, AI, and start-ups. I was one of the initial delegation participants in 2018 and while I shared an infographic on my findings I don’t think I shared a post here.

Two of Trade Mission DelegatesThe trip to China was terrific for building Asian literacy. Over the eight days, 21 female business leaders were exposed to multiple industries and had the opportunity to discuss future trade perspectives. All done while immersed in the innovative space that China’s business culture inhabits.

The immersive aspect was delivered through an itinerary that allowed for a broad cross-section to be experienced.

So, last year the participants visited:


  • The University of International Business and Economics to attend lectures on the Belt and Road initiative and the Chinese Social Media landscape.
  • Gubei Water Town to see how the Chinese integrate culture and historical identity in tourism and eco-infrastructure.
  • Little Village of Montessori to understand the importance that creativity plays in advancing the youth in workplace employability
  • Nio House to find out about how you build an incredibly sticky customer community with brand design and collaboration.
  • Invest Shenzhen to find out how Shenzhen supports new entrants from Australia.
  • Huawei, Galaxy World, and Build Your Dreams (BYD)  to get a sense of the sheer scale and breadth of innovation in China. In particular, the importance of STEM, incubators and accelerators.
  • Luohu Hospital to understand how China is handling the Aged Care responsibilities both in policy and practice (hint, their culture values their older generation).

Dr. Jennifer Frahm speaking at Beijing Chamber of Commerce Then, of course, there were pandas, as well as the Simatai Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, and many, many banquets.

I also had the honour of being the MC at the Beijing Chamber of Commerce networking event and the Industry Gala dinner in Shenzhen.

Some of my main take-aways:

There are immediate opportunities in early childhood education, with parents seeking to get the edge for the next generation of innovators.

The Belt and Road Initiative is vast in scope, which results in some immediate capability gaps in specialised engineering and infrastructure skillsets.

From what I observed, the Chinese business environment is a while away from needing organisational psychology, workplace change, employee experience, or workplace health services – but as the workplaces become disrupted from the clash of generations (eg. early career folk not comfortable with command and control managers) this field will deepen.

We were struck by the incredibly long-term vision that Chinese business possess and of course the level of safety this creates in risk-taking. Paradoxically, ‘disrupt or die’ is real, there is an urgency in their strategy execution.

Workers in modern Chinese officeThe businesses we visited had a real holistic design – they created self-sufficiency through vertical supply changes and a robust industry ecosphere.

The focus on platforms and algorithms really emphasised how disruptive they could be  – we saw very heavy investment in research and development.

The pride in their rich history and cultural legacy bred a focus on community and creativity. This means that change is surprisingly easy because State control has a governmental model. In short, when it comes to change, they just do it.

I came back to Australia feeling both humbled from the trip, and somewhat embarrassed by my ignorance and naivety. It’s clear that, if it hasn’t already, Australian industry is about to be caught napping.

If Australian companies are not actively seeking to build their connections and relationships with Chinese counterparts or allies, they will not be in a position to thrive in the future. It’s that simple.

If you are a female business leader who is keen to know more I would encourage you to explore this as an option – and I’m more than happy to have a chat offline with you.

Otherwise do follow CATIC on Linkedin – their feed will be helpful to you.

Call for submissions here and close May 31 2019

With much gratitude to the team at CATIC and Mission Leaders Alice Tay and Donna Hardman and Gold Sponsors VillaWorld.


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