Yuki tan folli

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Description: With a history of concubines, emperors, warlords and domestic dogma that is more complicated than a Copenhagen proposal, you wouldn't think China was set up to be a woman's world. It was a

With a history of concubines, emperors, warlords and domestic dogma that is more complicated than a Copenhagen proposal, you wouldn't think China was set up to be a woman's world.

It was a surprise therefore when the Bocconi Alumni in Beijing decided to celebrate the fairer sex and all their achievements by hosting a dialogue between two of the most prominent women doing business in China today.

Together they gave their insights and experience into what it takes to be high rolling female in the rising capital.

Yuki Tan is the president of Folli Follie China and takes the credit for the success of all aspects of branding in the country. Don't be fooled by the catwalk-like dress and jewelry, Tan is a force to be reckoned with and has been hailed as one of the great leading women and most successful entrepreneurs in the middle kingdom by several publications.

"One Chinese woman is worth three Chinese men," she said, apologizing for the bluntness but not for the content of her statement. "Men have tried doing this job but after some months, they left. Most of my employees are women. I make them feel good and need them to feel good and feel sharp to get a lot of self confidence and grow in the business."

Although fashion is a lot tougher than all the pretty lights and makeup imply it is, Carla Cico, the CEO for the Ambrosetti group has a reputation for fierceness as well, and has been at the top of the ladder in a long list of telecommunications companies around the world as well as being dubbed by Forbes and Fortune magazines as one of the most powerful women in international business.

"I was always involved in a male industry, I think I was the problem for men working for me, but they were never a problem for me," said Cico. "To be a woman has always been a plus. In a way they let you do things that they would not accept from a man. I don't think I've ever been put down because I was a woman. Not in China, India, Brazil or in any male dominated country."

Although the god-awful phrase "holding up half the sky" springs to the mind of many when talking about women that rule their industries with an iron fist in a velvet glove, no one can ignore China's substitute for concubines and warlords – the testosterone filled worlds of baijiu and KTV.

These are also by no means a solely Sino-centric problem when it comes to business as KTV and rice-based alcohol have spread across all of Asia like a fun loving plague. So how do the best of the best deal with the fetish for traditionally male activities?

"I spent one year in Taiwan. I found myself as the only woman outside the room at some of these invited entertainment activities. But everything can be solved. Just as some women would be uncomfortable, some of these places would be bad for men too," said Cico. "But you can always find someone working for you to do it, always." she added with a grin.

Only in South Korea did she have a bad experience which resulted in an inevitable panic-dash back to the hotel.

This resilience in the face of minor misfortunes is a recurring theme for both of the masters of business, and both believe that there are certain qualities which help move someone from bottom rung, to top of the ladder.

Rather than coming to work abroad with the innocence of a newborn, believing that the country you are arriving in is fantastic and perfect, it's necessary to delve deeper on a personal level.

"I know people who live in China that live in the same way that they would if they were in Rome, Milan or London. It all depends on how much you are willing to look and to learn. You have to accept that your judgment is important and select what it is you want to play with," said Cico, who speaks about trusting her "gut feeling" with a passion.

"Never think there is only one way to do things, not only is there your way, but also China's way. You need to become more perceptive and understand that the culture and community you are working in shapes you."

"Common sense is important," added Tan. "You have to have the right people in power and be flexible. You also need motivation, to build on every small success and confidence."

The Bocconi Alumni plan to hold more of these dialogues in the future. Whether the patriarchal nature of China is crumbling has yet to be seen, but certain individuals are certainly making an effort nonetheless.

Photogallery Yuki tan folli:

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