Thoughts on Culture, Consumers and the Chinese Economy Emerge From Darden Global Economic Forum


Leaders in business and academia, led by professors at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, exchanged perspectives about the media, consumer behavior and finance in China at the Darden Global Economic Forum on 10 May 2013. The forum formed part of the School's second annual Darden Global Leadership Forum in Shanghai.

Darden Dean Robert F. Bruner, Senior Associate Dean Peter Rodriguez and Professor Dennis Yang led discussions related to China's economy, which generated new knowledge and learning. More than 100 people attended the forum, including: Darden alumni; students in Darden's full-time MBA and Global MBA for Executives, which was in academic residency in Shanghai; members of Darden's Global Advisory Council, comprised of alumni volunteer leaders from around the globe; local business leaders; and other guests.

China's media companies face global industry challenges, with consumer preference shifting to online content and away from traditional news streams. Qiu Xin, CEO of Shanghai Media Group (SMG), one of China's largest media groups, delivered a keynote speech on the Chinese media environment and discussed how SMG is addressing changing media consumption patterns. He discussed how the media plays a significant role in China's cultural sector, and therefore, the overall economy. SMG meets the challenge by strategically creating new content across its channels and finding new opportunities to grow.

Yang led a panel of top economists to discuss China's recent economic slowdown and future outlook. The panelists argued that even after the recent lag, the Chinese economy could grow at a rate of 7 to 8 percent for the next five years - a rate they view as sustainable. Panelists also discussed opportunities stemming from China's increasingly skilled labor force, the continued need for infrastructure development and globalization.

During a discussion led by Darden alumnus Scott Price (MBA '90), CEO of Walmart Asia, and alumnus Shaojian Zhang (MBA '99), business manager of Rockwell Automation China, panelists shared their thoughts on the growing Chinese consumer market and agreed that trust with consumers is a vital component of business success in China. All agreed that there are many opportunities for both indigenous enterprises and multinational corporations. They noted the rise of e-commerce and the need for Chinese companies to compete with online platforms.

Finally, a panel led by Darden alumni Jerry Peng (MBA '03), CEO of Four Seas Capital Management, and Henry Skelsey (MBA '84), co-founder and partner of PRC Venture Partners, addressed China's financial sector. The panelists discussed how the country continues to see increases in financial market activity as it attracts new investment opportunities at home and acquisition activities abroad.

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