The country manager for Jebsen & Jessen in Cambodia says Southeast Asia’s 500 million population and annual growth rate of 6 to 8 per cent per year for the last 10 years means investment in training of Cambodians is most likely to bear fruit in the coming years.
“We invest in staff training and development and try to combine our expertise in technology with their knowledge of the local market,” said Austrian Alfons Mensdorff, 30, who opened Jebsen & Jessen’s Cambodia office seven months ago in February.
“Since then from a team perspective we have hired another five motivated Cambodian individuals that are now being placed in various business units. We have a young energetic team of one hundred percent Cambodians,” he said.
In this first period, Mensdorff says, his business has exceeded expectations.
“Amongst many ongoing projects we are currently involved in a new golf course project around Phnom Penh, providing the whole irrigation system. We’ve supplied a 45-ton overhead crane for a local sugar factory and we have successfully implemented call center technologies in various banks and telecommunication companies,” he said.
The Jebsen & Jessen Family Enterprise and associated companies employ about 5,500 people worldwide and have an annual turnover of about 2 billion Euros.
“Over the years Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) has grown and many principals have joined our company. We have therefore split the business into eight different business units: cables, chemicals, communications, life sciences, marketing, material handling, packaging and technology. We give people access to world class technology and access to a network of highly trained people.
“Its is our mission to make the whole ASEAN market accesible to our principals and partners. This is the reason why we have opened an office in Cambodia, and an office in Myanmar recently; the only country missing is Brunei, but we’re working on that. We can tell our customers back in Europe and around the world that we truly speak the language of Southeast Asia,” Mensdorff said.
“Cambodia is a country where you can be entrepreneurial. In that sense we are currently looking for investment and acquisition targets. We are interested in companies that are in a strong market position being experts in one of our fields of technology,” he said.
As far as employees are concerned, there’s a zero tolerance for giving or taking bribes and a principle-driven family company atmosphere.
“We behave ethically and have a zero tolerance policy on bribery and this has been made very clear to all our employees. This is not only for the sake of the company, but for the sake of the employees. We have not survived in Asia for almost 120 years by squandering our position by behaving in an unethical way.
“People have to know when they join Jebsen & Jessen, they join a family company that has been in Asia for over 100 years and goes into countries to stay, not to profit from short term. By joining us they are equally joining a large family company,” he said.
Mensdorff says one of the best things about Cambodia is the young population.
“We came to Cambodia because we want to increase our ASEAN footprint, but also because we believe in this market, especially the young energetic population. We believe in the stability of the system and the consistent growth that we find here in a more and more educated environment.
“I still think Cambodia has a bumpy road ahead, but I am sure they will develop into a very successful ASEAN country. Perception is still not very positive in Europe and the States, but having lived in this country for almost a year I can see the opportunities and the beauty of this country and it’s population. We are in Cambodia because we believe in the market and we want to be successful here,” he said.
Mensdorff and the Jebsen & Jessen team have conducted call center technology seminars at Sofitel, flying in experts to conduct the training. Almost every bank and telecom company in Phnom Penh sent representatives. “Following up on this success we will conduct a seminar on warehouse technology next week. Through these events we are not only promoting our products and services but equally training potential customers on specific technology.”
Mensdorff says he’s happy to give advice to multi-nationals who send their scouts to Cambodia and help them find ways to do business.
“We have found that very few large international companies are present in Cambodia, especially from Europe. Hopefully they will be coming,” he said.
“Through the way we conduct business we want to be a good example for future Cambodian businessmen without imposing our values on them. This should go hand in hand by doing proper and good business.
“We are a highly developed full professional tech driven company that seeks to succeed in the market. Representing market leading technlogies we have to convince our customers to buy our products for the quality and service not only for the price. We have succeeded with this strategy for a long time and we are confident we can succeed also in Cambodia.”