Gilbert Van Kerckhove, Founder of Beijing Global Strategy Consulting Inc., played a key role representing Beijing Government during the tender process and special planning as the city prepared to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Many people ask me how I liked working for the Beijing Government.
He shares his impressions in this short video.
View From The Inside
"I think the job I had was most unique. I don’t know any other foreigner who has really worked on the inside of the system in China. Not as a consultant for the Chinese Government but really as a staff member."
"How I landed this role is interesting and an example of how you can be helpful in China. People ask how they can work with Chinese Government. What I stress in front of Western business people is be pragmatic, go to the point, do something, don’t try go give big advice, just show the way and do it. This is what the Chinese want."
Lending A Helping Hand
"I have been called officially in Beijing the fireman. When there’s a big fire and they don’t know how to solve it, they call me, and I solve the problem in 24 hours, because everything has to be quick."
"When I came to Beijing and started working with the Foreign Investment Promotion people, they quickly found out that I am a pragmatic guy, I’m an engineer, I don’t like big speeches, I like to solve problems."
"In 2002 they came to me and said ‘Gilbert, we have a big problem, we have the Olympics to host in 2008, we don’t have money to build all the stadiums in Beijing. There was no budget, nothing. Contrary to what many people believe, the Olympics were not carried out by China but by the city of Beijing, so they had to find the money to build the Bird’s Nest, the Water Cube, and all these venues you see today."
"It might seem really unbelievable but that is what happened."
"I said ‘cool, anything else you want from me? Let’s get started'."
Rolling Out The Plan
"I had to go door to door, all the embassies and chambers of commerce, to start the launch of what we called the ownership tenders, basically eight big projects, which were slimmed down. I did find the investors, I launched the projects based on a public-private partnership approach."
"I traveled to Europe especially to promote the whole thing, to invite people to come to Beijing. This was extremely successful. When we launched the pre-qualification phase for all those projects, we had a many companies who came forward and were willing to put money on the table."
"It wasn’t always easy. It was difficult period, we got hit by SARS, we had issues with the Bird’s Nest and the architect which I had to solve completely on my own. It was a big experience. But as you know, the Bird’s Nest is there, the Water Cube is there, it’s all there.
"And because of this I got all the decorations from the Government."