When Yao Wen arrived in Germany on November 1, 1985, she had just turned 21. She had $ 30 in her pocket and was not allowed to take more with her. At that time China was completely isolated from the West, the rules were strict. She didn’t even have enough money to buy a train ticket to Augsburg, where she wanted to study and where she knew a teacher. “It was an emotional moment to come here alone,” she said.
Who was lucky. She meets people who help her and arrives in Augsburg. She studied there, received a scholarship and graduated with honors. She didn’t see her parents for eight years, she wrote letters that took a month in the mail. But she settled down, befriended home-made Chinese cuisine that hardly anyone knew at the time – and laid the foundation for a great career in the foreign country.
Today, Yao Wen is an entrepreneur. The 56-year-old had a meteoric career at Siemens – then left Siemens when things were going best. After completing her studies, she was noticed by computer maker Siemens Nixdorf, who urgently needed help with contacts with China. She didn’t stay there long because they needed her even more at Siemens headquarters. From Munich, she established Siemens’ sourcing relationships in China, where she purchased individual parts for the company when others were far from being able to.
Without whom, the German economy would be different
Siemens sent her to Hong Kong for a few years in 1992, from where she participated in the creation of purchasing offices in China. “At that time, there were hardly any other German companies there,” she says. “I was a real front woman.” Chinese subcontractors like Foxconn were still very small companies with 200 employees. Who the founders knew and networked with. It was such a success that other German companies approached Siemens. Wen returned to Munich and headed a new department: in the future, she also bought components in China for third-party companies, a billion-dollar company. Without that, the German economy would be different, especially relations with China would be different. Worst.
When Siemens wanted to focus more on its core business, the company put its department up for sale. “I wanted to continue the business that I started myself,” says Wen. Together with her colleague from Siemens Dimitrios Bachadakis, she took over the group’s department – and became an entrepreneur in 2004. “We were immediately profitable,” she says. “The day we made the transfer of operations, we immediately had an order book of eight million euros. It was exciting as a start-up.
Wen has now received the Munich Business Prize for Women, La Monachia, for her story of women entrepreneurs. Today, its approximately 50 employees purchase electronic components, solar cells and raw materials from more than 30 factories in Asia and distribute them to more than 35 factories around the world. One in two households in Europe owns household items that contain a component purchased by your CIP group, such as electronic circuit boards for refrigerators. His company is also currently developing an electric cargo bike called Mocci, which will be used in factories and warehouses. The trade in spare parts has been difficult since the pandemic, after all, many factories in China were closed for a long time and space on container ships was scarce. But Wen’s network still helped her supply enough components to her customers, she says. “It took a lot of energy from us, but we didn’t cause any disruption to our customers.”