Wanted: fake executives in China
A CNBC report describes the trend in mainland China of hiring "fake executives": westerners recruited by Chinese companies to lend an image of cosmopolitan internationalism
The rise of Asia’s financial markets over the rest of the world’s, as trumpeted lately by just about every financial publication (including this one) and global economist, has led many professionals to head east in search of career resuscitation. China is particularly hot. Sadly, there are fewer jobs in Beijing and Shanghai than there are potential escapees from moribund London and New York offices. Worse still, it turns out on closer inspection that many of these roles require specialist local knowledge.
There is hope, however. A CNBC report in June describes the trend in mainland China of hiring "fake executives": westerners recruited by Chinese companies to lend an image of cosmopolitan internationalism. These phony execs are paid to attend public functions, patrol office and factory floors and even give speeches, all in the name of convincing both employees and external observers that the Chinese company in question has deep overseas connections and an international outlook.
One source describes being paid $1,000 a week by a Chinese high-tech firm to attend a few dinners and tour the factory floor. The role seems perfectly suited to recently out-of-work bankers: requirements are limited to ownership of a suit, a willingness to bullshit clients and the ability to look professional and presentable without having a clue what’s going on. Journalists are apparently also favourable hires for these Chinese firms looking for fake executives: the ability to sound convincing while talking absolute rubbish is highly prized in the role.