The Most Exciting Company in the World
Photo Copyright of Grist on Flickr
The Chinese electrical car and battery maker BYD is the most exciting company in today’s economy according to Harvard professor Warren McFarlan, but business grads will be hard pressed to find a job there.
BYD (Bi Ya Di or Build Your Dreams) is a pillar of the Chinese manufacturing scene. Last fall, its CEO Wang Chuan-fu turned down Warren Buffet’s offer to buy 25 per cent of the firm. He later agreed to sell Buffet a ten per cent stake for $230 million, which Buffet saw as a “good sign”.
Wang started BYD in February 1995 as a small battery supplier in Shenzhen, a free enterprise zone in southern China. Today the company makes 65% of the world’s nickel-cadmium batteries and has130,000 employees in eleven factories worldwide, producing cellphone handsets for popular models including Motorola’s RAZR and the iPhone. Its revenues have more than quadrupled in the past five years.
In an interview with Fortune magazine in April, Wang claimed that the firm’s “human resources advantage” is the most important part of its strategy. According to Wang, BYD has thrived through the downturn because it can use China’s abundant, low-cost, tech-savvy skilled workers. In a move down the technological ladder, Wang has cut production costs by replacing expensive Japanese robots with Chinese migrant workers, monitored against strict quality control standards.
And it seems that low-cost Chinese workers beat blue sky-thinking business graduates. After three days of calling the company’s human resources division at its headquarters in Shenzhen, BusinessBecause reached someone who was willing to talk a little (but did not want to be named).
Asked about the relevance of business degrees to the company’s needs he said that since most positions are technical rather than managerial, MBA graduates are rarely considered. One of BYD’s core values is to be “practical”, he emphasized. Instead of looking for highly educated people, the company puts its employees through rigorous internal training in engineering, management and languages.
Employees live in BYD-sponsored apartments, eat in BYD canteens, send their kids to BYD kindergarten, elementary and middle schools, and join in organized entertainment activities.
Seems an MBA’s best shot at working for the world’s most exciting company could be teaching English at the BYD Staff Academy.
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