Thriving in a capital market
Career salon exchanges console and supports China’s working women
Published: Mar 07, 2016 05:43 PM Updated: Mar 08, 2016 08:22 AM

"We are secretaries of the board of the directors instead of serving the board director only," a dozen women working in the growth enterprises listed on China's New Third Board told the Global Times at a recent career club event.

China currently has 5,906 companies listed on New Third Board, compared with the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen SME board, New Third Board is the over-the-counter market for growth enterprises in need of capital and macro-policy supports.

Shares of companies listed on New Third Board cannot be publicly traded by individual investors, but are exclusively for institutional and specific individual investors with strict criteria.

Besides the dominant male executives of New Third Board-listed enterprises, there are a group of female professional managers actively working to help their employers, usually with the title of "secretary of the board of directors."

These women have organized a club called Mingyuanhui (elite ladies salon) to share their stories and exchange support both in career and family life.

The Global Times spoke with a dozen members of Mingyuanhui to reveal the true life of this elite group in a cutting-edge market.

Mingyuanhui members share their stories and exchange support both in career and family life during the club's events. Photos: Courtesy of the club

Realizing self-improvement

Tang Jie, sales director of Equities Investment and Trading Department of the Orient Securities, is the initiator of the club. Established in December 2015, the club now has 18 members based in the Yangtze River Delta.

Tang said that to be a member, applicants must be either a board secretary or senior executive from a high-quality New Third Board enterprise with the recommendation of at least two New Third Board board directors, and approved by over half of the club members.

"With the position locked in those enterprises, those career women have proved outstanding by their previous efforts. But at the same time, pressure mounts with their new role. Mingyuanhui serves as platform to share experiences in handling pressure and realizing self-improvement," Tang told the Global Times.

"The experience we gather here will also help other career women in the similar position, as there are so many board secretaries in the pool."

Shen Yanli, chief financial officer from the Shanghai Sunrise Polymer Materials Co Ltd, told the Global Times that besides personal improvement, she also hopes the support she receives here can help her company realize the IPO on the main board (as Sunrise Polymer is quite a promising enterprise with steady and healthy growth).

Chinese authorities are now working on detailed regulations to transfer high-quality New Third Board companies to its main board.

Li Huijun, CFO and board secretary of Jiangsu Gm-winlead Intelligent Technology Co Ltd, said that "although we feel we are hardworking and excellent, upon meeting more career women, we find they are even more competitive and we don't have reason to stay unchanged. Salon members recommend books and other activities every week, which helps us make positive change."

Extra communication

When Jiang Yan, deputy general manager and board secretary from Jiangsu Hanwin Technology Company Ltd, said that she was appointed as secretary of the board before the company was listed on New Third Board as all the executives agreed that the role should be for reliable, faithful and responsible persons.

The club members couldn't agree more. Many New Third Board companies select a secretary of the director board from their existent talent pool despite the fact that the ideal candidate may have had a different job previously. This role should be played wonderfully both inside and outside the company.

"We have to face a lot of unreasonable complaints. Investors make phone calls complaining why our stock price doesn't rise as much as others or why the price tumbled. They never consider the efforts we have made. But we have to accept all the accusations," said Chen Shujuan, board secretary from Shanghai Starlight Film Corp.

Duan Fengwei, secretary of the board of trustees from Shanghai ZiHeng e-Business Co Ltd, enjoyed her new role as she previously worked in the manufacturing industry, which she thought not that suitable for women.

Her new company offers a different career platform as it has more lifestyle business. As a secretary is usually labeled a personal assistant for a male boss, the club admits that they have to explain to others about their role. Extra communication and understanding are also necessary for family members, as they have to stay in the company for a longer period of time than other colleagues as far as public relations or crisis management are concerned.

One member said regular family meetings are a good channel to have effective communication between relatives, as when they are quarreling and angry no mutual understanding can be achieved.

New challenges

Chinese society and families have a more open attitude today, and members claim proudly that although they can't accompany their children as often as housewives, they earn more money that can guarantee their children a comfortable life, the best education, and also a chance to travel the world.

Asked whether they will use their current companies as a springboard for their careers, some said that they have already done that and some said that their development is closely related to the future of their employer.

Compared with listed companies on China's main exchanges, New Third Board enterprises still lag behind in sales, revenue and scale. The cruel reality is that New Third Board enterprises are more fragile in the market when they encounter financial turbulence or macro-policy adjustments.

Tang says that the women of Mingyuanhui are well aware of this precarious situation, which makes them more aware of the importance of balancing physical and mental health to prepare for all the new challenges that lay ahead.