Boss in China

The wide range of products presents a real challenge for efficient IT and financial processes: Charis Heuzé has been the CFO at CB Ceratizit in Xiamen since 2015.

It is a fairytale career: For six years, Charis Heuzé worked at Deloitte, spending four years in auditing. This put her in good stead to switch to her customer Ceratizit, where she became Group Finance Manager. “That move gave me back some of the things I had been missing as a project manager at Deloitte, namely working in an operational environment, hands-on involvement in facts and figures and, once again, more time for my family and leisure activities,” remembers Heuzé happily.
Heuzé has been working at Ceratizit for nine years. And they have been exciting years. She established the reporting system. Almost every year, Ceratizit opened up a new sales office. In 2010, a joint venture was set up with CB Carbide, a company that had several production plants in China and Taiwan. Heuzé was there right from the beginning, initially working on due diligence and later as part of the initial consolidation and the first audit.

Standing on her own feet
In the fall of 2014, a vacancy came up as the CFO of CB Ceratizit in Xiamen, China. Heuzé was offered the job. Heuzé: “I could well imagine living there. For years, I had already been in close contact with my colleagues at CB and had already visited Xiamen a number of times.”
And she is thoroughly familiar with being on the move in her private life. Born in Leipzig, Germany, she studied financial accounting and controlling in France and subsequently worked in Luxembourg and lived in Belgium. And her daughter has now flown the nest. “We often share a meal together, via Skype. It doesn’t entirely get rid of the 10,000 kilometers between us, but it still brings us far closer together,” says Heuzé.
She recently got her Chinese driving license and has since been battling her way through the chaotic traffic without a driver. And increasingly she is able to stand on her own two feet with the language: “I started learning Chinese in Luxembourg and I’m becoming ever more confident using the language in daily life.”

Wide range of products
So what’s it like to be head of finance in China? Heuzé: “You have to be very careful in conveying your objectives.” After all, the staff are hugely motivated and spare no effort to complete an assignment. It’s not unheard of to see people working through until daybreak. With her devotion to figures, is Heuzé also interested in Ceratizit’s products? She smiles: “Oh yes. Ultimately, it is the wide range of products that makes our IT and finance operations so varied and complex.” This is because the Ceratizit Group operates several production plants across the globe. And the products are sold through a large number of sales offices, some of which are very small.

Making a name in the company
Heuzé: “The management training courses at Ceratizit have helped me to sharpen my soft skills in particular. After all, in the first place it is your technical skills that earn you promotion.” Over time, she has learned to give feedback even if it is uncomfortable and to react appropriately in times of crisis. The presentations she gave to the board were good practice. “That does help to make a name for yourself in the company.” Nowadays, she particularly enjoys the benefit of the network she built up across the entire Plansee Group during the training courses. Heuzé is convinced: “That really does provide a good basis
for implementing complex financial and IT projects far more successfully.”