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(2014-05-03 10:40:54)

The figurehead of Beijing’s fastest growing wine retailer discusses the gap between expectations and performance of the local workforce.


One needn't refer to official figures or growth statistics to demonstrate the explosive growth of the wine industry in China, especially in its larger metropolises. Imported and domestic labels can be found in every grocery store, on the menu of many restaurants, and even in some tiny local convenience stores. Historically, wines (especially imports) have been positioned as a product for the upper-classes, with prices to match. Generally, the growing middle class still makes this association. Many domestic producers have very low-cost products (of questionable quality) on offer, though they are mostly ignored by image-conscious consumers, who remain firmly committed to the initial positioning efforts of the early entrants. In this way, the massive purchasing power of the growing middle class has largely been ignored and untapped. But thanks to one brilliant (or crazy), energetic and plucky woman named Claudia Masueger, this is about to change.

你不需要任何官方数字或统计就可以看到葡萄酒行业在中国是如何呈爆炸式增长的,而这点在大城市尤为明显。国产葡萄酒品牌与洋品牌随处可见,比如在杂货店里,许多餐馆的菜单上,甚至在当地一些非常小的便利店里。从历史角度看,葡萄酒(尤其是进口品牌)早已被定位为一种上层人士的消费品,并且有与之相匹配的价格。一般来说,人数日益增长的中产阶级也同样认为进口葡萄酒是上层人士的选择。许多国内生产商提供的产品虽然价格很低,但同时产品质量也无法保障。注重自身面子和形象问题的消费者常常会忽略这类产品,他们仍然认为葡萄酒就是高档消费品。这样一来,正在成长中的中产阶级消费群体市场便无法开发,其购买力也被忽略。幸好还有这样一位叫Claudia Masueger的智慧(或可称之为疯狂)精力充沛且勇敢的女士注意到了这部分市场的存在。

Originally from Austria, Claudia has been in China since 2008. Before China, she was building computer schools in rural India. The entrepreneurial bug bit upon her arrival in Beijing, when she was first exposed to the scale and pace of China’s economic development. Though initially not particularly interested in the wine industry, she thought she could leverage her family’s four generations of wine distribution back in Austria, and find a way to get a piece of the action.

Claudia,奥地利人 ,2008年就来到了中国。在来华前,她在印度的乡村开办电脑学校。但创业的思想又驱使她来到北京,第一次感受到了中国济发展的步伐和规模。虽然最初她对葡萄酒行业并不是十分感兴趣,但她认为家里曾有四代人一直在做葡萄酒行业,她可以利用这一优势在中国的葡萄酒行业获得一席之地。

Five years later, she’s the head of an aggressively-expanding empire of 13 funky retail stores targeting a demographic previously ignored. The roller coaster of rapid expansion meant Claudia had to build a solid team, and fast. The following constitutes her experiences hiring, firing and training, and her insights into how young entrants to the workforce can get ahead faster.


CHEERS WINES was unknown to the Beijing market in early 2011. By summer, 2013, CHEERS had 13 stores 90 staff, and was growing like crazy. To keep up with the pace of growth, Claudia has learned that quality people are the key. But early on, it became quite clear that finding the people she needed, even in a city with 20 million people, proved to be an incredibly difficult task. Her first few key staffers came through people she knew, liked and trusted. When she encountered sales clerks at other shops that seemed to have the right attitude, she’d make them an offer. When the business reached a certain scale, an HR department was created to find talent from more traditional channels, and finding good people became a struggle.


“Book-keepers that don’t know how to use Excel”

One of Claudia’s early observations regarding the pool of applicants was that there was a distinct lack of maturity and experience among applicants. People in their mid-twenties were applying for sales positions with absolutely no work experience whatsoever. Professionalism was virtually non-existent, especially during the interview process, when many applicants, dressed in jeans and t-shirts, couldn’t even tell her the name of her company, let alone why they wanted to work there. She was particularly annoyed with ego-filled big city kids, whom she felt expected everything but weren’t able to contribute much. “They don’t even know how to keep their desks clean.” she relates. “Everything in their life has been done for them, so they think they don’t have to do anything. Very spoiled.”


Training of new recruits had to start with surprisingly basic contents- work ethic, business etiquette, career development, customer service and other skills that she expected young adults to possess were generally lacking. Language skills also fell far below expectations. Internal training was conducted very frequently, as Claudia realized many important concepts had to be repeated over and over in order to finally stick. The gap between expectations and reality grew especially clear when she hired a 28 year-old CFO from Switzerland, who proved to be a highly competent professional right from the start with minimal orientation.


But her tireless efforts seem to be paying off. Turnover is very low, (quite a rarity in China), productivity is ever on the rise, and those who demonstrate initiative and ambition are readily handed promotion and training opportunities. Her resident wine master, a handsome Tibetan named Angqian Niu, just returned from a long stay in France, where he was sent to complete his WSET certification. Other store managers, after a certain period of experience, are offered the chance to open a CHEERS branch in their home towns, if interested.

但是她的不懈努力得了回报,员工离职率不断降低(这样的情况在中国非常少见),工作的积极性和效率比以前提升了不少,对于那些表现出主动性和抱负的员工,公司则随时提供晋升和培训的机会。比如:公司里的品酒大师是一位刚从法国完成学业归国并获得了英国葡萄酒及烈酒教育基金会三级证书的藏族帅哥—Angqian Niu;一些分店的经理在这里工作过一段时间后,如果愿意,他们可在自己的家乡开设CHEERS葡萄酒分公司。

While interviewing potential new recruits, it was common to find young, spoiled kids with high salary expectations but no drive or ambition. But these types of people don’t necessarily represent the entire young workforce. If this were true, CHEERS wouldn’t be where they are today. It takes patience, and sorting through the by-catch to find the real prizes takes commitment and creativity.



Conventional wisdom in China is that career development opportunities are rare in small businesses, especially for those without top-tier university degrees or for those without family connections. But Claudia’s approach to screening, training, team-building and management grooming demonstrates that when you find them, great people can do great work, and have rewarding careers. Great people stand out, move up, and get ahead, just like anywhere else in the world.

其职业发展机会非常渺茫,但是Claudia 关于简历筛选、员工培训、团队建设和管理式疏导的方法证明,只要你能找到他们,出色的人就会完成出色的工作,并会得到好的职业发展机会。出色的人总是很突出,不断上升,前进,在世界任何地方都是如此。


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