Farewell Dinner with the CEO- Old Stories and New Dreams

In the last week of my internship, Ms. Lu, Carbon Capital Management’s CEO, invited me and the other intern out to dinner along with our boss whom we had worked under all semester, Lisa.  One night, we met at the office and waited for Ms. Lu to arrive.  A large SUV pulled up and we all got inside, only Ms. Lu was not driving.  She was bundled up in the back seat in a big white coat as her driver navigated through the Beijing traffic on the way to the restaurant.  I had met Ms. Lu in passing once or twice before, but we never exchanged more than a few words.  As we drove along, she asked about our experience as interns and told us how she appreciated our work.  We pulled up to an ornate Peking Duck restaurant where we were led into our own private room.

Ms. Lu, who founded the company, is fluent in Japanese and Chinese but cannot speak English.  So, with Lisa’s help, we talked about our experience at the company and Ms. Lu’s interesting past.  A native Chinese, Ms. Lu always had a knack for entrepreneurship and started three companies by the time she had graduated college including a bakery and a clothing store.  She told us how hard it was to start a company with no credibility.  She told us a story about how she was frustrated that no one feared her and that they weren’t showing a sense of urgency when she told them to do something because she was young and physically a small woman.  She was so fed up that one day she fired every employee but one, on the spot.  She said that after that, her employees were scared by the mere sound of her footsteps.

Ms. Lu has since started a consulting company focused on the carbon market, KOE, which has offices in Japan and in Beijing.  Two years ago, she started another sister company, Carbon Capital Management, which is more investment oriented than KOE but is also involved in developing clean energy projects in China and trading in the carbon market.  Carbon Capital Management, the firm I interned for, is only two years old and has two offices in Beijing.  She was noticeably excited at the future prospects of her company, and for good reason.  With increased international interest in the carbon market, manifested most concretely by the Copenhagen Climate Conference, countless nations including the U.S. and EU are looking to join or increase their involvement in this young and dynamic industry

Halfway through the meal, we were joined by her driver and “the Japanese expert” whom the driver had since picked up at the airport.  He was a seasoned Japanese consultant probably in his mid 50’s and had become good friends with Ms. Lu, visiting once a month as a close business partner.  He could speak English quite well although couldn’t speak much Chinese.  Relying heavily on Lisa for translation—as only person who could speak Chinese and English fluently—we talked about the qualms of learning a new language and the funny differences between cultures.

As a kid from Boston sitting at that table with a Japanese consultant on one side, and an international entrepreneur on my other, it was an enlightening conversation that only reinforced a sentiment that I find permeates Beijing and those within it—China is the land of opportunity.

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