Christine Xuting Fan: Finding My Kokorozashi in China's Health Food Market

After completing her MBA with GLOBIS in 2016, Christine Xuting Fan entered the health food industry—a rapidly expanding market that helped her find opportunities to hone her business skills and make a real social impact. We checked in to see how her career is progressing in this critical, fast-paced industry.

What have you been doing since you left GLOBIS?

I’m working for Oisix ra daichi (Oisix), a company that sells food products and ingredients with emphasis on food safety, and one of the companies used case studies for the GLOBIS MBA Essentials of Marketing and Strategy course. My main mission is to expand our business model in China and try to improve the sustainability of Chinese agriculture. China is seeing a lot of amazing progress in terms of organic farming and online retail. There are a lot of innovative companies working in these areas, but although Oisix is new to China, I believe we can make an impact through our very high product safety standards. We face huge challenges in finding products and vendors because of these standards, but as we expand it may push growers and competitors to raise their own.

One of our focuses at this stage of the project is increasing product offerings, so this whole year I have been working closely with local farmers who care about organic farming and are honest about their farming practice. In Japan, for example, my colleagues and I visited farmers in Chiba to help harvest rice. The farm we visited has been organic for over 30 years. Over that period, a lot of its neighbors have also started to go organic or follow more natural growing methods. This is an example of how healthy farming practices can be sustained, taught, and spread over time. I’m hoping that similar successes can happen in China.

After two business mergers over the past year, we’re now the No.1 e-commerce retailer focusing on healthy natural food. Working at the Tokyo office as part of the management team, I feel lucky to be surrounded by hundreds of experienced colleagues during the company’s rapid growth. One of my responsibilities is web marketing, and I’ve been able to learn a lot and improve my skills thanks to my superiors. At the same time, my own team is only 4 people, and our online store for mainland China only launched last December, so in a lot of ways it’s like a startup.

How has your GLOBIS experience helped you so far?

A lot of the processes used by my company work well in Japan, but are not always as competitive in China. In such circumstances, I have to convince people of the need for change. GLOBIS taught me to enhance the structure of my proposals and ideas, and also helped me practice discussing business situations among people with very different perspectives. This has been invaluable in a multicultural team.

The internship I did with Oisix also gave me a great head start. They actually asked me to join a few months earlier than expected, and though it made my schedule incredibly busy, it ended up being a great opportunity. I started when the China launch was just an idea, before there was any concrete plan or permanent team, which allowed me to influence the conception. As an intern, I had regular meetings and discussions with the head of the Overseas Department, who respected and valued my opinions and ideas. I think one of the reasons that he made so much time to discuss the project with me comes back to that same GLOBIS-taught communication structure. The management skills that I gained through GLOBIS, as well, undoubtedly had a part in my promotion from intern to management.

Any advice for other GLOBIS alumni who are thinking about working in your field?

I highly recommend the health food industry. It’s competitive worldwide and still growing, so it’s important for every company to find its niche and ways to make itself stand out. Especially now, there are many opportunities to support local farmers who want to grow food in a safer and healthier way. This benefits the environment, people's health, and future generations. Even if the money doesn’t start flowing in right away, never forget the social impact of what you are doing.

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