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Member Spotlight: 5 Minutes With Mellisa Gillies, Director, Lantian Consulting Pty Limited

Mellisa Gillies, Director, Lantian Consulting Pty Limited

- A blue sky of possibilities for business, marketing, communications and brand growth



Tell us about your business and how you've leveraged your Australia-China connections to build your success in China?

I established a consulting business in 2015 after living in China for the previous seven years and working on China, regional Asia-Pacific, global and international business for over twenty years. I selected my business name to position both my China experience and a strategic mindset to building success.

Lan Tian is the blue-sky thinking to createopportunity!  My business specialisation is in marketing, communications, digital and brand strategy and tactical implementation forgrowth.I am fortunate to have had diverse business experiences in China and wherever possible I leveraged Australia-China relationships, sometimes from one business to another, which has continued through to my business today.  Whilst living in Beijing and company representative for a start-up media company I connected into the Australia-China business community and one connection led to another and another! From the formal and informal of AusCham events, an AusTrade digital delegation, business events and social networks, connecting with people and companies with Australia-China business interests was critical for not just business success but to ensure a rewarding life experience. The ability to build and maintain diverse connections, from entrepreneurs to service providers, large corporations, manufacturers and exporters through to associations and government, enabled me to develop and leverage business opportunities for my work. This included Tourism Australia, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo China, when I led agency business out of Shanghai, and in Hong Kong for a new hotel brand developed for the Shangri-La hotel group launched across Asia-Pacific and including China and Australia. Back in Australia, connections have extended to China as a source market for international students and institutional partnerships for an Australian university through to manufacturers of a broad range of consumer products and, currently, industrial goods and service industries. 

I would say my success in China stems from the combination of my experience living and working in China, the diversity of my connections with shared interests in Australia-China business and trade and a genuine desire for continued involvement in the China market.

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

Rather than a typical day I would say I have a typical week. I divide my time between current client work, development of new business, operations management and skills development. Time allocations differ according to current priorities but over a week or month the spread remains relatively similar. Client work can be diverse, business management and governance obligations mandatory, networking essential to remain connected to people and organisations and, as a marketer in a constantly evolving environment, a commitment to continual learning to ensure my expertise remains current.  I am currently consulting to an Australian business, who manufactures in China, on the strategy, tactics and operations to double business revenue in 2-years. I’ve also been meeting with companies in Australia to introduce a China Media Landscape, with thanks to media agency PHD China, to provide insights into media consumption, trends and the constantly evolving digital media market and content marketing in China so Australian companies know how to reach Chinese consumers.

What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business in/with China?

1. Networking to build valuable relationships and remain connected in and with China.
2. Passion for what you do and the value you can add from experience and expertise;
3. Resilience, persistence, perseverance and a sense of humour!
4. Creativity to develop opportunities and agility to pivot in the face of change:
5. Integrity, trustworthiness and commitment to build mutually beneficial partnerships.

How do you go about marketing your business in Australia/China and what has contributed to this success?

I market my business by meeting people, creating ways to add value and remaining focused on the customer experience.  As a member of the Australian China Business Council and associations and industry groups with business interests in China, I attend many events. One reason is to connect with existing connections and develop new contacts and the second reason is to ensure I remain informed about market, regulatory, industry, consumer and trade developments, changes and trends. Whatever the situation, I am looking for ways to build value and opportunities to add value. I had a wonderful experience living in China - in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong – and for over 20-years working from China and Australia in customer focused industry sectors of travel, tourism, hospitality, higher education, consumer products, industrial products as well as media and entertainment. The diversity of experience is incredibly valuable as a commercial marketer as it provides a variety of perspectives to view and analyse business problems and a vast tool kit to draw upon to create success. I have a China experience to relate to many business situations! The most important contribution to the success of my business and for the business I’m in, is a customer-focus regardless of whether the customer is a consumer, partner or internal or external stakeholder. Through it all, delivering optimal customer experience has been a major contributor to business success.

You have been very successful to date, but there has no doubt been challenges - what's been your biggest challenge that you have overcome in your business journey with China?

It depends on the industry sector, but challenges have included managing the speed of regulatory changes; staff retention in the marketing, media and digital agency sector; and, in one industry sector, the length of time to negotiate contracts or resource intensity to manage contracts. 

What's your motto/mantra?

I look for the blue sky of opportunities for business success. For me the blue sky is the clear, unclouded and endless possibility a beautiful blue sky provides for inspiration. A blue sky for ideas, creativity, innovation, strategic options and diversity of growth objectives for business, marketing, communications and brand growth all laser focused on the customers at the centre of an organisation’s business world. In other words, a Lan Tian perspective for success!