By Kang Lan, Global Partner, Fosun International, Chairwoman, Fosun Insurance Group
I joined Fosun eight years ago, and after so many times introducing Fosun, I still feel very proud and excited about telling our story. There’s so much story to tell of how a company established by a group of new college grads grew into a big company that contributes back to society and has the ability to help build a better future.
The founders didn’t have many resources, just their knowledge from school in the beginning, but with entrepreneurial spirit and partnership with talents from different backgrounds, Fosun won itself a chance to grow quickly.
If you go through Fosun’s history, there are two important things about us that you could tell - partnership and entrepreneurship. The company was founded by a group of people of diversified perspectives and complementary skill sets, and we think it's very important of keeping that dynamic in our personnel. As a startup company, it’s really helpful hearing different voices collectively before making decisions.
Chairman Guo always says that: “when it comes to investment, we are either investing in companies, or investing in talents”. We don't only look at so-called experience at Fosun, we also look at talents’ growth potential. I joined Fosun as head of HR and became the chairman of the Insurance Group. It was an extraordinary experience for me to be able to learn and grow within an organization. Partnership is about creating value for each other and work as a team. It’s also what makes Fosun’s professionalism in different sectors, as we have expertise in different industries to be the partners, and it’s fully embedded in Fosun’s culture.
Partnership doesn’t only exist in management, our portfolio companies partner with each other as well. Take our startup business competition program Protechting as an example, it’s a technology startup accelerator cohosted by Fosun, our European portfolio companies Fidelidade, Hauck & Aufhäuser, Hospital da Luz, and Beta-i. After three years’ successes, Protechting is now planning to start its new page in the U.S. partnering with our friends at George Washington University.
And yes, we still emphasize entrepreneurship even though we are now a large company. We always encourage self-motivation, taking initiative in innovation, and having people think differently. We have a strong belief in our young generation, and what they can achieve. We emphasize the capability of continuous learning, and we value entrepreneurship as the key driver to success.
That's why we are organizing business competitions. Protechting has incubated more than 400 projects of young entrepreneurs from 42 countries. That covers insurtech, fintech, and healthtech. We also have Fostar and Fostar Plus program, that’s our yearly hiring programs designed to recruit new graduates, and with this one-year program the young talents will have a chance to gain cross-functional knowledge. We are keen on building a platform for young people to be creatively solving problems in innovative ways.
As Mr. Guo always says, “People are Fosun’s most important assets” because people can take initiatives, change the world, and create a better future. That includes our team, our clients, me, and you.
Fosun in Chinese “复星” could be literally interpreted as “stars from Fudan University” or “multiple stars that come together to work as a company”. That is what Fosun is, and will always be. Only with open-minds partnering together, can we build a better future. As a big company, we have been investing in many different companies in different geographic areas, in different sectors, and in different growth stages. Our “stars” are not only talents with different industrial experience, but also different culture backgrounds.
I received a lot of questions like “how does Fosun integrate so many companies to make sure you have a consistent culture?” I believe inter-cultural communication can be built in a structured way as long as you serve the same aim. In Fosun, we aim to serve people. Communication is not only among different countries and cultures, but also among different units in an organization. I think a good way of communication is based on respect, trust, and mutual understanding. Partnership helps a lot in cross sector communication. Once you have the right person in the right position, you will usually have fewer problems.
Today we are trying to build up an eco-system centered on people with family-based needs, to provide products, service and experiences in health, happiness and wealth. I’m also asked questions like: “Why does Fosun operate in so many different sectors?” and “Is that the most optimized way of running a business?”
Firstly, it is important you have specialized expertise. Secondly, you can learn from each other and leverage different resources to provide the best solutions. Especially for Fosun’s family-based clients, people have different needs - for healthcare, for household financing, for education, for fun. And we can integrate what we have, and offer the best product to our clients. Taking Youle as an example – Youle is a customer platform of Fosun on which listed numerous high-value businesses in different industries that make unique products by Fosun’s portfolio companies. Tsingtao beer, Club Med, health insurance, baby care……Our customers of the same group could see all the products that they want just with one glance on our platform.
In Fosun, we are not only driven by financial results but also social responsibilities. We look at how we can contribute back to our community. We donate US$240,000 market value of artemisinin-based antimalarial medicines to Zambia in 2018. We help young entrepreneurs with great ideas start companies. One example is the Proxima team, a proprietary project incubated by Fosun. Proxima uses artificial intelligence technology to assist in tuberculosis film reading, which greatly enhances the accuracy of lung cancer diagnosis. We are still learning about how we can further expand our scope.
What struck me recently was what Yuval Noah Harari mentioned in his book Homo Deus, “Medicine almost always begins by saving people from falling below the norm, but the same tools and know-how can then be used to surpass the norm”. “Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing?” In other words, how will people be in the future? We are eager to incubate more advanced technology and discoveries to become helpful to our society. We’d love to use our extensive experience and industry data to analyze and make better products for people. After all, no matter how fast society develops and no matter where it goes, people are still people. We still have our basic needs, we still have families, and we still have so many emotions to express. Deep down, Fosun’s aim is to create happier lives for families worldwide.
The spirit of entrepreneurship and partnership gives us a chance to self-correcting and self-evolving, and that’s how an organization grows. We will keep being open and growing in a balanced speed, and keep integrating our knowledge and resources to offer our clients and our society better solutions.
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