At the end of March, I attended the launch of China-US Insurance Advisory Co. Ltd., the joint-venture agency distribution company between PICC Group and American International Group, in Beijing. Not that unusual, I get invited to a fair number of such events.

What this one in particular did make me reflect on was the transformation in sophistication of how Chinese state-owned enterprises represent themselves. It wasn’t just the caliber of executives, their international mindset, and the excitement that they had about the launch. It was also in how they ran the event, what they emphasized, and how they brought the services they offer to life – and just how different this was from the past.

I recall state-owned insurance company announcements as being completely dire in the past. A large semi-lit room, partly filled. Executives sitting at a desk reading a script they didn’t care about to an audience who didn’t really want to be there other than for the drinks available at the end. And always running late.

The new version involved floor to ceiling LCD screens, which projected what was on the screen of the sales agent’s iPad on the stage as she demonstrated an actual sale in real time during the event. The speeches were concise, on time, and delivered with enthusiasm. The back of the room had further iPads so that the journalists could try (and film themselves doing so) the apps.

It really felt like a commercial entity was driving the event.

You can read more of my views on China on my LinkedIn Influencer blog. And please follow me on Twitter @gordonorr

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