Ingo Neumann in the OEM&Supplier interview

"The speed of the restart was impressive."

Interview with Ingo Neumann, Managing Director UNITY China

China remains one of the most important markets for German companies, if only because of its size. However, the pandemic has made cooperation with the country considerably more difficult. Ingo Neumann is Managing Director of the Chinese subsidiary of the German management consultancy UNITY. In an interview with OEM&Supplier, the China expert reveals how he has successfully guided his company through the Corona period.

Mr. Neumann, how have you experienced the past 2.5 years in China?

From one moment to the next, economic and social life came to a complete standstill due to the coronavirus and the zero-covid strategy.
Then the other extreme followed: the speed of the restart was particularly impressive in China. China is still one of the fastest growing countries in the world. As UNITY, we currently have an excellent order situation in China and are pleased that our team is growing very quickly.

As the German managing director of a Chinese company, how did you manage the lockdown?

The lockdown was a major challenge for all companies. Many processes were at a standstill for the time being and had to be virtualized. We were in the fortunate position of being able to move almost all of our project work to the home office. However, this was not possible for all company processes. For example, like many other companies, we were unable to send invoices to our customers from the home office, as the necessary equipment was located in the company. This was a difficult situation for many companies, to which some competitors reacted by suspending wage payments. However, this did not fit in with our values at UNITY. Of course, the situation was also difficult for us, as nobody knew how long the lockdown would last. Having lived in China for over ten years, I am of course familiar with the cultural peculiarities here. I was therefore able to understand the existential concerns of my employees and ease many of their worries with regard to our German corporate culture.

How have the pandemic and lockdown affected your customers in China? And which consulting services are currently in particular demand?

From one day to the next, it was almost impossible for our German customers in China to send urgently needed specialist and project personnel to China. The entry requirements are still very strict. Our German customers in China benefit greatly from the fact that they have a reliable local partner in us, who ensures that projects are not delayed. We have known many of our customers for a very long time and also work successfully with them in Germany. In China, we are often involved in project management processes and methods as well as technical planning. For example, we plan the intralogistics of various plants for a German car manufacturer.

How is cooperation within UNITY organized across national and continental borders?

A key factor is the close cooperation with our German locations. Made in Germany' continues to enjoy a very good reputation in China. In the early planning phase, projects are set up by a team in Germany and then handed over to local teams in China for detailed planning and implementation. In China, we try to support these projects as early as possible to ensure that the standards and norms from Germany are also known and applied in the planning and implementation phases. There are also many hidden stumbling blocks in Chinese culture that can jeopardize the success of a project. Language barriers can also be an obstacle. As a German who speaks fluent Chinese, I therefore often act as a link between the German and Chinese teams.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Your contact

Ingo Neumann

Managing Director UNITY China, Team Leader

Peking, China
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