How Poly Australia, a Chinese real estate company manages its ethnic diversified workforce and grow steadily in the Australian market

Translation by Ren Zegang

“Unity is strength”, “two heads better than one” are the tales common to us. However to apply such wisdom into the corporate world and make workplace harmonious and productive is another matter. This is particularly challenging for Poly Australia, a Chinese company, who has moved into Australia since 2014.

Australia is a country of high level of ethnic diversity. The history of Australia has been a history of immigration as soon as the first batch of British settlers landed at Botany Bay in Sydney in 1778.

Though there are quite a few countries in the world such as America, Canada and Germany have a high population of migrants, all of them have yet developed a sophisticated multiculturalism as Australia did.

Basically there are three main principles of Australian multiculturalism:

  1. Australian celebrates diversity and recognize that expressions of diversity including language and religion sit within Australia’s national legal framework.
  1. Being an inclusive and socially cohesive society, Australia is a place everyone enjoys equal opportunities regardless their cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The Australian government opposes all forms of racism, discrimination, intolerance and prejudice.
  1. Australia welcomes the economic, trade and investment benefits which arise from our successful multicultural nation. The skill, investment and labour brought in through immigration are the crucial elements to the prosperity of out nation.

The grow of Poly Australia is truly a testimony to the success of multiculturalism in Australia.

I guess, as a reporter from “Australian Financial Insight”, most people including me, were until now unfamiliar with Poly Group, which is a huge Chinese corporation but keeps a low profile. I had the privilege to interview Mr. Wang, president of Poly Australia and its top management team.

Poly Group, formerly known as Poly Technology Co., Ltd., was established in February 1993. As a key state owned enterprise it is directly under the supervision of State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council. As of the end of 2013, Poly Group’s total assets were 455.3 billion yuan. Poly Group ranked 96th among the “Top 500 Chinese Enterprises in 2016”. In 2014, Poly opened its overseas operations with a total of 12 projects, of which 9 was in Australia.

Real estate development has been one of the key businesses of Poly. In the past years, through completion of various projects within and outside of China, Poly has built up its reputation, know-how, professional team and accumulated capital for further expansion. In purist of excellence and attaching cultural value to real estate projects has become the philosophy for Poly Real Estate.

As an multinational company Poly Real Estate has branches and representative offices in 100 countries. Poly Australia is mainly engaged in sub-division of land, residential and commercial property development in Sydney and Melbourne.

  1. Managing an ethnic diversified company

Localization serves as the foundation to the operation of Poly Australia. Mr. Wang Yinan, president of Poly Australia, formulates a guideline in this regard which is to “hire local employees, produce local products and sell to local markets”.

One of the key supporting elements to fulfil the targets of localisation, emphasized by Mr. Wang in the interview, is to get a proper management of a very ethnic and cultural diversified company. As a reflection of Australia’s ethnic diversity, Poly Australia has its workforce comprised of employees from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds including China, Australia, Iran, South Africa, India, Poland and etc. Over 10 different languages and dialects are spoken among employees in the company.

The management stipulated that English must be spoken in the office, while it is free for employees to speak any language outside the office hour. Furthermore employees are required to use WeChat as one of the tools of communication within the company, but such communication through WeChat must be in English.

Poly Australia facilitates employee to visit China. Through such travels Australian employees of various ethnic backgrounds are able to get familiar with the Chinese culture and being in a better position in understanding the corporate value, structure and business strategy of Poly group.

Poly Australia fully appreciates democratic value in its operation. The company has its goal clearly set and breaking down into annual, quarterly and monthly targets.

Every Friday, a luncheon meeting is held among top executives and department managers to discuss the operation of the company. Mr. Wang likes to have everyone bring up opinions on how targets should be set for every department, what problems lie ahead and how to solve them.

If a conclusion can not be reached on a particular issue due to dispute, a vote will be conducted. Poly Australia endeavours to cultivate a culture that focus on the market and intentions and response of customers but not to guess what boss likes or dislikes.

Jay, marketing director of Poly Australia, a typical Aussie, is satisfied with the framework of management set by the company. In his opinion these measures enable employees to integrate faster into a company of Chinese culture and is also effective in building the trust between management and workforce. Such positive and relaxed environment encourages employees to fully realize their potential.

  1. Assessment of the Australian market

Mr. Wang told the reporter that Poly Australia has been “very prudent”. In order to ensure a stable development it selected only two out of 1,200 potential projects in 2016 and 3 out of 1800 in 2017.

Poly Australia has maintained a strict system for risk management.

Any project failed in risk assessment even only in one criteria will not go ahead. As a company aiming at the longhaul, Poly is fully aware of the importance of quality to its reputation in Australia. In order to ensure LINDFIELD real estate, its first project in Australia, of first class quality, Poly has increased the expanditure in construction.

Poly has never advertised its Australian projects in China, but there are still many customers from mainland China to purchase apartments developed by Poly Australia becasue of its reputation.

Asked about the future of real estate in Australia, Jay, the marketing director, is still quite confident. In particular, he emphasized that the potential of Sydney and Melbourne should not be underestimated as these two cities combined, has a share of 46% of the whole population of Australia. Given such a large population and constant growth of immigrantion, the rise of demand for housing is assured.

At present, although the number of overseas buyers are declining due to government regulations, local demand is on the rise. The latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that the loans to first-time home buyers accounted for 17.6% of all homeloans in October, the highest level since November 2012. The share of home loan to first-time home buyers was 13.7% in New South Wales and 19% for Victoria. In October, a total of 10,061 loans were lent to first-time home buyers in Australia, an increase of 37.8% over the same period last year. It is estimated that this trend will continue in 2018.

Therefore, although house price will grow moderately in the next two years, the overall development of the property market will be stable. In response to the local demand, Poly will lift up its game in the market of housing sales and housing leasing.

“In addition to a multicultural environment, what else should be highlighted for Chinese-funded enterprises operating in Australia?” Our reporter asked.

In his reply, Mr. Wang pointed that “Australia offers the advantages such as a strong economy, political stability and a Chinese-friendly environment. All these make Australia very attractive to Chinese investment. However, overseas investment is risky after all.”

Mr. Wang has listed all such risks in more than 40 items and categorized them into three groups representing with different colors. The red represents uncontrollable, yellow means partially controllable and green stands for total controllable.

Mr. Wang commented that “Risk control is very important. The risks mentioned above are drawn from practical cases. Any mistake in risk control would result in a total failure. A simple but important example is the exchange rate. The slightest change in exchange rate would produce huge impact on a company operating overseas, in particular in the area of merge and acquisition. Proper preparation has to be done in advance.”

Mr. Wang firmly believed that “the opportunity is for those who are ready”. Opportunity will always rise at any time, the challenge is if you can seize it.

Before leaving, Mr. Wang took us for a walk around the company. We noticed a communicating board written both in Chinese and English. Surely this is a representation of integration of different cultures in this diversified company.

In the conference room, one side of the wall is devoted to the display of all the projects Poly Australia has completed. Every time a project is being commenced there will be a piece of rock or wood taken from the site as a symbol to be represented on the wall.

Two hours of interview ended as Mr. Wang had to leave for a meeting with his management team. After that was pub time, a popular Australian way of finishing a working week on Friday. Can not help but think of such saying as “working hard and playing hard”. Best wishes to Poly Australia in its future development.