‘Global Lithuanian Leaders’ (GLL) and ‘Enterprise Lithuania’ held a meeting with John Mack, President and CEO of CIE Automotive China (Shanghai, China) and members of the Baltic Automotive Component Cluster on Thursday 22 August 2013.

Mack, who also participates in ‘GLL Business Advisors’ programme, shared his experience with participants discussing such topics as company management, attracting investment, entering new markets, and analysing current global trends.Half Lithuanian, half Australian, he has spent the last seven years residing and working in China for CIE Automotive China. He began his career at General Motors Australia in the role of design engineer, after having established himself at BMW Germany. At BMW, he was involved in the design and engineering of vehicles, after assuming a prestigious management role. After joining FIAT Group, he reached a pinnacle in his career when was appointed President and CEO of FIAT Thailand, manufacturing Alfa Romeo vehicles.

“I want to share my experience and know-how with Lithuanian companies,” he imparted. “I am very happy, as it is the first time in my life I was asked certain [business] questions here. I saw that for [upcoming Lithuanian businessmen in the automotive sector] that this is important, they are ambitious and want to grow. We face global issues daily and for them, they are just starting to develop factories, working relationships with Asia, and they are in a very different situation. “I would be very happy if they use 0.1 per cent of my advice in this market!” he laughed.

Mack has lived in countries such as Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, the US, Thailand, and Singapore amongst others. China, however, has proved a most interesting encounter, both in terms of creating business and culture. “China has been around for 5000 years, and in my lifetime I never saw a country that can develop from zero to that level in such a short time,” he reflected.

“The Chinese want to show that they ‘can’, and they really have [demonstrated this], to evolve. They like technology, for example there is the Maglev [‘magnetic-levitation’] train that only exists in Shanghai, and I am really happy to be part of that [innovative culture]. To build a 100 storey [building], they don’t need seven years, only three.”In terms of the export market, he believes Lithuania still has some way to go, and that it should prepare well for the anticipated influx of Lithuanian-Chinese trade.

“It’s [a positive situation], but to export it will be very difficult. They [Lithuanians] have to prepare for the Chinese, and they are coming. They are buying European companies, for example a tractor company in Poland, which is now one of the largest in Europe. They should prepare the ground for the Chinese, here,” continued Mack.

“In China you cannot compete from Europe, you have to be there. Unless you build a factory in China, you are not able to do anything. Today I think they [today’s Lithuanian businessmen] understood that very clearly.”

He believes that the Chinese are ‘open’ to dealing with external foreign trade, and this sharply contrasts with business practices in Lithuania.

“In my position, in daily management with the company, I have to keep a relationship with the government and other institutions, and of course, with customers. But the Chinese are open. If I want to hold a high level meeting there, I can. I find that is not so easy in Lithuania,” he said. Mack’s own methods of business practice revolve around the speedy and most cost-effective, leading to the invention of a memorable slogan of his.

“I’ve learned how to do it, and how not to do it [in business] the three ‘F’s’: ‘fast, focused and flexible.’ In business you don’t have to create big plans, sometimes you have to be flexible and change direction. Times are changing.”

What is a fast, focused and flexible aspect of CIE Automotive China, according to John Mack?“Many companies don’t believe that China cannot carry out high quality work, but the case is that they actually can. It depends how you coach them, they are very fast learners, good at copying, and they can easily grasp what is going on,” he shared about utilising the talents of local Chinese workers.

“We employ approximately 1,000 local employees. If you want to make money, you have to use local talent. If you bring expats out, you don’t make money,” he believes.

His experiences networking at the 2013 World Lithuanian Economic Forum this summer also proved fruitful. “I think the forum was a success. Great people were invited, many people got to know new friends, and have fun with old ones. For me, it was the first time attending!”

John Mack is clearly a global Lithuanian leader. His career in China looks to be going from strength to strength, whilst simultaneously inspiring a new generation of Lithuanian entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

Source: The Lithuania Tribune http://bit.ly/14v3qyl