Cross-culture Promoter Committed to China
  2006-10-25 12:56:32      China Daily
In the eyes of Serge Dumont, a French businessman who has witnessed China's rapid development, an increasingly important issue Chinese companies should be aware of is the country's image and how it is perceived by foreign countries.

"When expanding overseas, Chinese senior executives are rightfully proud of the extraordinary economic achievements China has made but often wrongly assume that the world perceives China the way the Chinese do," said Dumont, explaining that this is one of the reasons why some Chinese companies meet obstacles in foreign markets where they expand or try to acquire companies.

Serge Dumont first went to Taipei to study in 1978 at a time when Taiwan was enjoying a major economic boom.

And he witnessed a similar rise on the Chinese mainland in the mid 1980s.

"Like a few other foreigners, I have been privileged to be in China at this unique historical time, when this country's place in the world changed so dramatically," Dumont said.

Serge Dumont was very actively involved during the Year of France in China which took place in 2004-05. This major programme, initiated by the Presidents of China and France, was unprecedented in its nature and scale.

He was asked to advise the French Government on how to involve the Chinese private sector and mobilized 22 Chinese leading companies and influential businesspeople to support the event.

"I immediately realized the short and long term benefits the two countries could derive, on all levels, from a programme of this nature," Dumont said. "Understanding each other's culture is the best foundation to establishing solid and lasting relationships."

In 1985, at age 25, he founded a strategic communications consultancy and rapidly acquired many Fortune 500 clients, including several famous French brands, which later became part of an American public relations group.

"Starting the first foreign invested communications business in China in the mid 1980s was not always easy. China was only then starting to build a modern legal system, trained human resources in our field were virtually nonexistent and the infrastructure not very suited to the needs of communications businesses."

"But we enjoyed having to be constantly challenged to find innovative ways of doing things, as there was no model to turn to, and I never regretted the time I have spent in China."

He is now often referred to as "founder of the communications industry in China" for his unique and pioneering contributions.

In January this year, he joined Omnicom Group Inc, the world's leading advertising and marketing services company as senior vice president and president of Asia Pacific business.

"I feel that the new breed of highly talented Chinese senior managers which has emerged over the last decade has a major role to play as Chinese enterprises are facing the complex challenges of entering developed markets and building global brands," Dumont says.

As a successful businessman, he has always felt it important to be deeply involved in philanthropic and cultural activities.

For example, in 2003 he conceived and organized China's first high-level celebrity charity event to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. He has recently been given the prestigious global mandate by the United Nations of "Special Representative" of UNAIDS.

He was the first foreign member appointed to the board of trustees of the influential China Youth Development Foundation.

A few years ago, he established a private scholarship programme with the elite Tsinghua University to meet the growing need for qualified communications professionals in China.

"I truly feel privileged to have been in the right place at the right time," he adds.

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