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Entrepreneurship in an International Setting

Alumni Guest Column
By Bradley A. Feuling, MBA '07

I have been interested in organizational expansion since I began my career. With the opportunity to expand Kong and Allan Consulting in Asia, however, I continue to be first and foremost a student of entrepreneurship.

As I often say, everyone in China is an entrepreneur. In fact, China has recently shown similarities to California during the Gold Rush boom of 1849. At one point, there were an estimated 10,000 new companies registered each day in the southern province of Guangdong.

As China enters a new period of development, the exponential growth rates of years past have subsided, replaced by a phase of steady but gradual growth. This transition brings a steep learning curve as business differentiation changes. Decisions that served early- stage companies will now give way to a more developed set of strategies.

Our focus at Kong and Allan Consulting has been and will continue to be supply-chain consulting and implementation. Certain growth challenges have been met with a focused attention to value-driven metrics. For example, our teams surpassed inventory reduction targets with leading local Chinese companies, helping us earn recognition as the 2009 Best Supply Chain Consulting Partner in Asia.

One of the cornerstones for success is partnership, and Kong and Allan Consulting has been fortunate to bring a strong network from our experience in the United States. Since entering China, we have expanded this model to several new partners in the region, including industry organizations such as the American Society for Quality (ASQ China) and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP China).

These partnerships are extended to media groups as well. From April to August of 2009, for example, Kong and Allan Consulting was published and cited in 10 different industry publications around the world. We also consider institutions of higher education to be important allies, linking students interested in international business to opportunities with 10 universities in four countries through our Global University Initiative.

People often have concerns about adapting to an international environment, but I honestly found the transition to be quite seamless. My recommendation is to let go of preconceptions — judgment builds walls instead of opening doors. To succeed living internationally, find a strong local partner to help you learn about the culture and its unique business practices. The new skill sets you develop as a result will be increasingly in demand.

The MBA experience helped me prepare for my current role in several important ways, beginning with access to opportunities for travel and study abroad. While at Krannert, I traveled to China three times and India twice. This not only helped me to gain a greater appreciation for the global business environment, but also to evaluate opportunities.

My experiences working with real companies through the entrepreneurship practicum class at Krannert were also valuable. Learning alongside the leaders of fast-growing businesses gave me the foresight to see potential challenges my future employer might face.

In addition, Krannert offers a great network that extends far beyond West Lafayette. In Shanghai, we have over 200 alumni that meet regularly, and we recently expanded our reach by creating the Hoosier Club of Shanghai to include individuals from other areas of Indiana. For people moving to a new country, these types of networks can offer personal as well as professional resources and support.

Whether you are starting a new company, or expanding an existing company in a new country, the fundamentals of entrepreneurship still hold true. Large organizations weren’t built overnight by one person. In many cases, success was built over decades of hard work by many individuals who contributed their efforts and enthusiasm.

In leading Kong and Allan Consulting’s Shanghai office, I have tried to instill a similar philosophy. Partners are important, whether it be industry organizations or alumni networks. Everyone you meet may offer a new window of opportunity.

Bradley A. Feuling is the CEO of Kong and Allan (Shanghai) Consulting, a division of the Kong and Allan Group focused on supply chain consulting, implementation, and innovations. He also serves as vice president of CSCMP Shanghai Roundtable and distinguished guest professor at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade.