China's Evolving Project Management Market

Simon Chivers
Over the last three decades, China has seen impressive economic growth, attracting foreign investment, as overseas manufacturing companies took advantage of a reliable, inexpensive and abundant workforce to produce goods for the global market.

International consulting companies such as Faithful+Gould followed their global customers to supply the quality of service that would meet their customer's international standards, particularly in industries where consumer expectations and consumer protection legislation demanded high levels of quality assurance. In time, this has led to more skilled and better paid local workforce, creating opportunities for Chinese industries to expand and more domestic purchasing power for finished goods.

Chinese industry expansion not only created competition for international companies in the local market but also in the global market.

Chinese industry expansion not only created competition for international companies in the local market but also in the global market. Whilst the effect of Chinese industrialisation saw a slowdown in demand from our traditional international customers for design and construction management services, emboldened Chinese companies were keen to acquire quality facilities necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

This evolution has now developed further as Chinese companies build facilities in their new overseas markets, looking to their international consulting partners in China to help them in new environments.

Initially, Faithful+Gould was primarily engaged as the project manager for international companies operating in China, such as IKEA, Dow, Caterpillar, and Motorola. We now see growth in demand for project management services from our traditional customers slowing, but simultaneously, an increase in domestic Chinese companies seeking our services.

Projects commenced recently include a one million square feet factory for Jahwa, producer of consumer cosmetics, and the new Head Office for Far East Leasing Corporation in Shanghai. We are now receiving enquiries to provide our services to high-end residential developments, which were previously managed by local firms.

At the same time, we see a corresponding increase in our project management services being sought by Chinese companies building overseas, including Huawei, and project management consultancy services for a Chinese-owned tyre manufacturing plant in the USA. Faithful+Gould's employees from China have been sought to help bridge the cultural gap for Chinese companies working in Western environments.

...we should not view the slowing of our traditional markets in China in a negative light but the emerging of new markets with our Chinese customers as an opportunity for us to grow.

Recent bilateral trade agreements between China and the UK to redress the trade imbalance are creating opportunities for Faithful+Gould and our parent company, Atkins, in the United Kingdom for Chinese clients in the rail and power sectors. Therefore, we should not view the slowing of our traditional markets in China in a negative light but the emerging of new markets with our Chinese customers as an opportunity for us to grow.

Take, for instance, Shanghai's 26-year transformation that was summed up in two photos (one was taken in 1987 and another in 2013), which has been circulating around the web – this shows China’s impressive growth and its return to its 1930s’ status as the world’s third biggest financial centre.

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Simon Chivers Country Director - China Contact me View my profile >