CIBER Focus: "Expatriate Executives in Asia" with Kevin Thieneman
Kevin Thieneman, President of Caterpillar Forest Products and formerly a Country Manager of China, India, and ASEAN, discusses his experiences as an executive in Asia. His work focused on upgrading processes and procedures and moving Caterpillar into the Chinese market. He details his initial move from the United States to China, including orientation and getting up to speed on business practices and the working environment, which tends to include a faster pace of change and longer hours. He offers advice for young professionals considering moving abroad for a position, including being sensitive to cultural differences and understanding the government and corporate structure of the new country. Thieneman goes on to discuss the ways Caterpillar's Asian business has changed over time. Management has been localized, though there are still expatriate employees and having a blend of both is considered important as it fosters a diversity of thought and experience. This diversity can make it more difficult to reach decisions and get behind them unilaterally, but it is worth it. He then goes into the biggest business challenges that businesses operating in Asia face, including being aware of growth opportunities as well as understanding when growth might slow, for example in India whose growth has been slowed by a lack of governmental reform. Attending Kelley prepared Thieneman well for his work abroad and in the United States. He feels he developed a toolbox of skills that acted as a foundation for his career, though he wasn't always sure how his classes would be useful. *This video was recorded as a part of the Indiana University CIBER Focus Vodcast Series.