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The Homecoming
Special> The Homecoming
UPDATED: March 7, 2009 NO. 10 MAR. 12, 2009
A Bigger Stage
After being away from his home country for 18 years, a financial expert backs to Beijing to pursue his dream career

A desk, a bookcase and two computers-that is all the furniture occupying Yuan Xianzhi's 10-square-meter office, and most of the space that remains is packed with files and reports. Sometimes the paperwork gets stacked so high that he is hidden behind it.


 A NEW START: Yuan Xianzhi in his new Beijing office. After returning to China from abroad, Yuan has been busy familiarizing himself with the local business environment (COURTESY OF YUAN XIANZHI)

Yuan moved into the office in October 2008 upon becoming the department director of the Beijing office of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, one of the world's leading accounting firms. Yuan returned to China to take the position after living outside the country for 18 years.

His life in Beijing is "very busy to the point of breaking down." Yuan spoke fast, his words accented with the tones of his hometown, Chongqing Municipality in southwest China.

A difficult decision

Yuan was among the first few groups of Chinese youths who entered university shortly after the disastrous "cultural revolution" (1966-76). There were not many university students in China back then, so those who made it into higher education were considered unusually lucky. Yuan earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Sichuan University.

In 1989, a year after he graduated, Yuan left China to study at Dalhousie University in Canada. Three years later, he earned a doctoral degree. From 1994 to 1998, Yuan completed post-doctoral mathematics research and then worked as a faculty member at Australia's University of Queensland.

Since finishing his studies, he has worked at an accounting firm, a multi-national investment firm, an energy-trading company and a university. He has made academic achievements and gained professional experience in risk management, financial derivatives and asset-pricing.

While living in the United States in those eight years, he worked at KPMG, a global network of professional services firms providing audit, tax and advisory services. He was promoted to the director position and became one of key players in its risk management-consulting department. In the eyes of many people, Yuan was a success.

"I worked very hard to get there," Yuan said. Although he held a good position, he felt that he had reached a point in his career that he would not be able to advance further. It was very difficult for him to move ahead in the United States, and he felt his dreams still unfulfilled.

Yuan left China 18 years ago to pursue his dreams, and he returned to China for the same reason. Yuan's goal is to bring his risk management experience back to China and train others in professional financial management. "In China, I have a bigger stage," Yuan said.

Yuan decided to develop his career in China back in 2002. His idea was shelved though, because he could not find the right opportunity.

The right opportunity came in 2008, when Deloitte's China operations set up a new valuation group with a focus on financial derivatives, assets and financial risk management on the quantitative side. Yuan excelled in this field and was invited to take it by Deloitte's Greater China Managing Partner who is in charge of the entire financial advisory service. He chose to take the challenge.

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