In May 2009, the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland delivered a one-day bespoke training programme on Chinese business and culture for senior executives from CRH Group, the Irish Fortune 500 multinational building materials and construction services company whose global operations include major investment in China.
The programme covered a diverse range of specialist topics including an Ireland-China briefing, Chinese society and economy, business environment, legal system, history, Confucian philosophy, customer service management, press and media, research and innovation, calligraphy and insights into doing business in the North East of the country. UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland staff, including Dr. Liming Wang, the Director, as well as Dr. Liyong Liang and Ms. Xiaodong Li who are appointed by the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), collaborated with UCD’s Irish Institute for Chinese Studies and Business School scholars in designing and presenting the material and content of the sessions to the participants. The programme was intensive and interactive, with in-depth discussions on many aspects and points. Up-to-date findings from the Confucius Institute’s recent National Survey of Companies and Organisations in Ireland on the Need for Support and Expertise in Chinese Business and Training helped inform the design of those presentations specifically aimed at Irish business management individuals seeking better understanding and insight into China. This training course represents an initiative of considerable significance and potential, reflects current global trends, and was among the first of its kind in Ireland. This cooperation between a major Irish business organisation and academic expertise in Ireland is very promising in terms of improving future business and economic links between Ireland and China. The event attracted media coverage and a small conferring ceremony at the end of the day was attended by the Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland, Mr. Xu Zhengbing, who personally congratulated and awarded certificates to the participants.
TThe five participating executives from the CRH Group gave full recognition and credit to the format and content of the training course. Chris Kelly, CRH’s business representative in China said: “I really appreciate that the Confucius Institute and Ireland-China Association could offer such a high quality and tailor-made course to us. The programme was great and the time flew by very quickly. I’m very fond of Harbin in China, because the people there are very friendly.”John Glynn, Chief Operational Officer of Jinlin Yatai Group, commented: “The key to conducting business is good communication between people, so learning about Chinese culture is very important to us. We can only better develop and extend our business in China if we can fully understand and appreciate Chinese people and their culture.”
The executive training programme for CRH has attracted the interest of other Irish firms keen on investing in China, and several other multinational companies are negotiating with UCD’s Confucius Institute to develop similar courses. The UCD Confucius Institute has also recently delivered a 12-week Chinese language, business and culture course which was attended by members of the public, civil service, and business organisations. There are good reasons to believe that China will continue to attract more companies, investors, and visitors from Ireland.
Established in 1970, CRH is not only the largest building materials company in Ireland, but also the international market leader in construction services. It is currently ranked in the global top five in the sector. CRH Group’s business covers more than 25 countries and regions. The company have set up branches in 50 states of the U.S. and their shares have been traded at New York Stock Exchange since 2006. In the last few years, the Group has shifted their focus of investment towards the Asia-Pacific market. They acquired China’s Heilongjiang Xiaoling Cement Company by signing a wholly-owned contract. They then signed a letter of intent with Jilin Yatai Group to acquire part of their equity shares. CRH’s acquisition programme has swept through the global building materials industry. Over 30 mergers and acquisition projects have been carried out by the company, with a total investment of over one billion Euros. The U.S. financial quarterly ‘Fortune’ reported that the Irish CRH Group’s global turnover was 208 million Euros in 2008. The company’s ranking on the Fortune 500 List also rose from 293 in 2007 to 277 in 2008.