Corporate

"I want to get to know the China that's not in the guidebook"

Posted on 17 March 2021 by Lucie Maluck, Images by Rolls-Royce Power Systems

Eugenia Valente has recently been appointed President of Rolls-Royce Power Systems' newly created “Power Solutions for Greater China” business unit. In this interview, she explains where she sees the biggest challenges in her new role, how she plans to meet them, and what fascinates her about China.

How long have you been with Rolls-Royce Power Systems?

I joined Rolls-Roye Power Systems in Friedrichshafen in October 2017, after more than a decade working for an Aerospace American company. In the last 3 years and 3 months I have been leading the Network and Distribution segment, in the Sales and Service department. It has been an amazing experience, being able to lead a extremely diverse team spread across the full globe, starting my day in conversation with my team in Japan or Indonesia or South Korea and closing my evening discussing strategies with Brazil and US. Every day was bringing new challenges and new opportunities, I never felt a single second in my comfort zone! And then in May 2019 I have been happily adding on my assignment the responsibility of the Medium Speed Business, Bergen AS, in Norway  - another incredible experience and a continuous learning curve for me in the business.

On top of the cultural aspect, I have enjoyed being able to steer  all 16 subsidiaries part of the Network with clear and transparent financial KPIs, developing  together with the team the right strategies and set up for their development.

Have you been to China before? (If yes) How did you enjoy living/working in China?

I have been to Shanghai several years ago on vacation to visit some Italian friends who live here and then few other times for work. I cannot say I know the country but I am fascinated by the Chinese culture: diverse and unique, yet harmoniously blended – an invaluable asset to the world. I come from Italy  - and two thousand years ago, when the Old World of civilization underwent its first imperial age, the Roman Empire and the Han Dinasty of Imperial China coexisted – they had much similarities but also many differences. I hope that during my stay here I will learn a lot about these rich and profound millennial culture, with his traditions and customs. I want to get to know the China that's not in the guidebook.

I am fascinated by the Chinese culture: diverse and unique, yet harmoniously blended – an invaluable asset to the world.

Eugenia Valente, Head of Rolls-Royce Power Systems' “Power Solutions for Greater China” business unit

When are you relocating to China? Which city will you be based in? Are you moving with your family and pets?

I will be relocating in Shanghai as soon as possible, once all paperwork will be cleared. Then two weeks in quarantine and finally I will be able to start working in person with my team here in Shanghai – I am so much looking forward to that moment!  I am moving with my husband, who is also working for Rolls Royce Power System and we are planning to live in Shanghai Puxi, not sure yet where exactly.

What would be the first thing you do once you moved to China?

It is quite clear to me that the first thing first to do is to humbly get to know the country and its people – this is my plan! I am eager to learn about its history, culture, traditions, customs, language - with all its subtleties and nuances, the way Chinese people think and act, their way of life and how they do business.

Since I left Italy many years ago, I´ve always focused to align myself to the local  behaviors and mindset, to integrate in the local communities, as a form of respect  - as an ancient Chinese proverb says“ Rivers and mountains may change; human nature, never.” So, I hope the team will help me on this. Then, I would like to set a plan for my first 100 days  - clear tasks and  direction together with my new team.

Eugenia Valente joined Rolls-Roye Power Systems in Friedrichshafen in October 2017.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems had a great year last year. What are your top priorities for the business this year?

The Chinese market is one of the most important markets for Rolls-Royce Power Systems and we see huge growth potential. However, we can only be successful in China by increasing our local presence even more and further push our ‘Local for Local’ strategy that we started last year and implement now step-by-step. We will expand our team, especially with focus on local R&D, Sourcing and Sales to further increase our excellent market share – and we will keep developing and strengthening local partnerships.

The challenge of how we will be able to onboard new employees and equip them for the opportunities  in our marketplace at our high speed, the so-called China Speed, drives me. And talent development as well as  succession planning will be  clear priorities for me. 

Another area of  interest is the  transition from being an engine manufacturer to become an integrated solution provider in China -  we're currently setting-up a systems assembly facility for Diesel Systems for the high-end data center market to be able going forward to act even faster, more cost-effectively and more independently in this rapidly growing segment.

How different is the Chinese market compared to Europe and the rest of the world in your view?

I see some big differentiators, starting of course  from the demographics: China, in 2019, was close to  1.5 billion people, compared to 450m in Europe and 330m in US. The magnitude of the needs coming out from such great population is speaking by itself: 1 out of every 5 people  in the world  live in this dynamic economy. And this of course means also huge workforce, which push the growth

Then – despite Europe being the second largest economy in the world in nominal terms, after the United States, and being the third one in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, after China and the United States, it has some many conflicts coming out from the political and geographical segmentation. China instead  can play a different game, talking about one united country – and his economic leadership is clear looking at the GDP growth of the last 30 years.

Finally I see the increase of consumption and the rise of middle class as the strong engine behind the fast capacity of growing, compared to the rest of the world, even if China is universally know as strong international trader

What are the unique opportunities that lie ahead in China for Rolls-Royce Power Systems?

The role infrastructure and enhanced connectivity has played in China’s development and growth over the past years is undisputed. We see strong synergies between companies that provide safe, reliable, efficient, and clean equipment and China’s ambitious growth plans. 

With our Green and Hightech Program, we provide forward-looking answers to the growing challenges of the mobility and energy transition towards more sustainable solutions.

Eugenia Valente, Head of Rolls-Royce Power Systems' “Power Solutions for Greater China” business unit

Especially in the emergency standby power market which is driven by construction of infrastructure, like hospitals or high-end buildings, and an increasing need for secure power supply of critical applications, like big data centers, Rolls-Royce Power Systems can provide excellent solutions. Furthermore, with our Green and Hightech Program, we provide forward-looking answers to the growing challenges of the mobility and energy transition towards more sustainable solutions. As part of the program, we have recently launched for example Microgrids that combine renewable energy with reliable power generators or mtu hybrid ship propulsion systems for yachts, workboats, ferries.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to overcome for the business in China?

The Chinese high-speed off-highway market is very fast-changing, and customers expect us to keep up with this pace. Also, the competitive pressure is high with both international players and local engine manufactures. Therefore, it is necessary to further accelerate our local footprint and local parts sourcing. Also, it is necessary to have an agile and creative organization that always strives to find the best solution for our customers. We must embrace the challenge of finding the perfect solution for our customer’s unique power requirements. This is the pioneering spirit that drives Rolls-Royce Power Systems since over 110 years.  

 

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