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Mike Hofmann

Initially, Mike Hofmann just wanted to go to China. “The coverage of the Summer Olympics awakened the China fever in me in 2008,” says the 37-year-old manager. Shortly after completing his studies, he was lured to Beijing by a six-month internship at Daimler.

That was 14 years ago – and today Mike Hofmann is still there. Beijing has become his new home. This is where he took his first job and where he married a Chinese woman. The former Daimler intern has now become the Managing Director of Melchers China at the Beijing location today.

The Bremen-based family business advises and represents more than 80 clients on the Chinese market, including big names such as the watch manufacturer Breitling. As early as 1866, the company established itself in China as one of the first German traditional trading houses. To this day, the retail focus is on luxury goods, among other things, but the mechanical engineering sector and aviation are also business areas. Mike Hofmann himself is in charge of a comparatively young sector besides aviation: For one year the trading house has joined forces with the German pharmaceutical company Dr. Franz Köhler Chemistry from Bensheim to Joint Venture Koehler Pharmaceuticals in the health care industry. The company specializes in the business of organ-protective solutions in heart and transplant surgery. “Especially in pandemic times, it is true pioneering work to bring the joint venture forward,” Hofmann says.

In general, the COVID-19 crisis has turned the work of the approximately 200 employees at Melchers China upside down. “We look after customers who take on the maintenance or cabin outfitting of aircraft,” says Hofmann.

But even without the pandemic, his work has changed a lot in recent years. “Until recently, German SMEs said, ‘I don’t want to have that much to do with China.‘” The main thing was to get the product to the customer. That has changed a lot with China’s growing importance. “Meanwhile, more and more European SMEs even want to have their own branch in China,” says Hofmann. So his job and Melcher’s orientation have also changed – away from the classic trading house and towards a service provider. Accounting, legal advice, personnel management – in the past, Hofmann and the trading house had little to do with these.

Three years ago, Mike Hofmann was still in charge of the German Chamber of Commerce Abroad in Beijing. Then he longed for a new challenge. “Melchers was structurally reorganizing at the time. That appealed to me.” In addition to his full-time job, Hofmann supports female executives and young professionals as a mentor for the nonprofit organization Viva Beijing Professional and is pursuing a doctorate in strategic management. Leon Kirschgens


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