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Villages in Tianjin welcome new 'CEOs'

By YANG CHENG in Tianjin | China Daily | Updated: 2023-04-10 09:17

Wang Yuhao (left) discusses development plans with a village official at a homestay in Mutouwo village, Ninghe district, Tianjin. CHINA DAILY

Professionals aim to use experience to help villagers prosper

Three professional managers have recently begun new careers in three villages in Ninghe district, Tianjin, becoming the first group of "village CEOs" in North China.

They were selected from a large national pool of applicants with strong business backgrounds.

"After the advertisement for the CEO position was published, I saw the resumes of many applicants who had decent work and education backgrounds, and the villagers had high hopes for them," said Zhang Hongliang, who leads Ninghe's Mutouwo village.

The new CEOs will work with village officials and residents and contribute strategies and experience accumulated during their careers as professional managers to the development of agricultural businesses, technological upgrading and agricultural product sales in a bid to boost locals' incomes.

Ninghe's move follows village CEO trial runs that began in 2019 in Chun'an county in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, which took the initiative to scout for professional managers ready to devote their time to developing agricultural businesses.

Other areas in Zhejiang, including Yuhang district in Hangzhou and Anji county in Huzhou city, have participated in trials since 2020. Village CEOs were paid as much as 200,000 yuan ($28,714) a year in Zhejiang.

In Tianjin, CEOs can get bonuses based on the revenue earned by village businesses.

Competition for the positions in Ninghe was fierce, with three candidates selected from 59 applicants, including graduates from prestigious Tsinghua and Nankai universities.

Wang Yuhao left a highly paid job as an events manager in Zhejiang for the post in Ninghe, which is his hometown.

Sun Lu, who was a marketing manager, was chosen to serve in Penguan village, which has been known for porcelain making for centuries.

Yue Zhensheng, who ran an e-commerce platform, was chosen to work in Renfengzhuang village and will work with his former e-commerce team to boost the sales of local agricultural products. Wang, 30, accumulated a great deal of experience in his previous job organizing tourism promotions.

He said he was attracted by the news that Zhejiang had employed village CEOs in recent years and believes the position offers enormous opportunities for both the villages and the professionals.

"When I learned that my hometown was looking to hire people for the same posts last October, I really wanted the job," he said.

"It would allow me to live closer to my parents and devote myself to my hometown."

Wang said he is currently conducting research on the history of Mutouwo, where residents were engaged in shipbuilding for centuries. The village has two recognized cultural assets — a type of cake eaten as a snack, and a reed weaving technique — and is known for its Xiaozhan Rice, a heritage brand.

He is implementing a plan to boost the online presence of the village on leading tourism portals, and a new WeChat mini program will be set up.

"The village will see up to 10 homestays open in the next month, and its presence should grow online and off," Wang said.

He said he is coping with the challenges of making better use of local tourism and cultural resources to boost the economy.

"The villages are in dire need of personnel, and we expect the new CEOs to help villagers achieve common prosperity," said Zhang Peng, deputy head of the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China's Ninghe District Committee.

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