In Sanya on tropical Hainan Island today. My wife has an off-site here from her company (Roland Berger Strategy Consultants) and spouses are also invited. We are staying in the 5-star Holiday Inn Beach Resort, a nice place on the Yalong Bay beach. A good room on the executive floor with a view all over Yalong Bay. The last time I stayed in this hotel was about four years ago when the hotel was still in its soft opening stage. What I still remember from that time is that the staff tried so hard to please the guests, but things always went wrong. It was OK, because we were warned in advance. They are doing a much better job now, even connecting my (English language) Apple Powerbook to the internet was something they managed (it did not find the IP address automatically).
This morning Mr. Roland Berger, the founder of the company gave a pre-breakfast speech (at 7:30 AM, for one hour!). He among others talked about the results of Roland Berger worldwide and compared them to China. The China business is growing very quickly, much faster than the rest of the world (not surprising of course). Mr. Berger is a very charismatic person, and I enjoyed listening to him. Amazing that he managed to build this company in 30 years from a one-man operation to the top 4 or 5 consultancy company worldwide. Based on what he says I feel Roland Berger is a great company to work for. Retaining employees is a major point for them, and they seem to be treated quite well (Qi just started 2 weeks ago, so I cannot judge it yet based on her experience). The only down-side is that the consultants always seem to be working: last night after we arrived in the hotel around 10 PM many people immediately went into meetings, and also today people cannot participate in activities because they need to have discussions.
Mr. Berger this morning put it like this: the client always comes first, then the firm, and only then your private life. This is of course not something everyone likes, but if you enjoy your job and feel responsible for the work that you are doing it probably comes automatically. But it also explains why the average age at Roland Berger is not very high: many people change to a different industry after having worked hard and gained lots of experience during a couple of years here. Not necessarily bad, according to Mr. Berger, because they are the best ambassadors for the values and the quality of the company.