Rita Ran Pang is a Chinese-qualified lawyer and a member of Kinstellar’s business development team, focussing on the Chinese market. Before joining Kinstellar in Prague, she worked for a Chinese law firm in Shanghai for five years, where she focused on foreign investment, cross-border transactions, merger & acquisitions, and outbound investment.
CEELM: Run us through your background, and how you ended up in your current role with Kinstellar.
R.P.: I’m a lawyer 100% made in China! I studied, lived, and worked in Shanghai. I moved to Prague ten months ago and landed with Kinstellar as an associate, focusing on maintaining and developing Chinese-related investment across Kinstellar’s ten markets.
Yes, I moved to another country, from China to the Czech Republic! People do this most likely for one of two reasons: you need a change in your life and love to travel, or you fell in love. Well, I have both. I fell in love with a charming man next to me during the flight from Shanghai to Prague, on my first trip to Prague. The timing was perfect as I had just resigned from my previous job. After spending some time together, I made the bold decision to move to Prague.
I was fortunate to be introduced to Jason Mogg, Senior Partner at Kinstellar and I subsequently survived interviews with ten partners from different countries. The process showed me how Kinstellar takes things seriously as well as the effort it puts on China-related business development. Kinstellar is a great firm for me to start my new professional life.
I always believe you should work for somebody who values your talents, hard work, and loyalty. This is exactly what Kinstellar offers me! Also, these are the qualities of my colleagues!
CEELM: Was it always your goal to work in Europe?
R.P.: Yes. My original plan was to work for another four or five years in China and then move to Spain as I love the Spanish language. But you can never plan your life as it is full of surprises! I have to admit, it has been a good decision to settle down in Prague, and with Kinstellar.
CEELM: Tell us briefly about your practice – your role at Kinstellar. What is it, exactly?
R.P.: As you know, law is jurisdictional, though the concept would be the same. As a result, I cannot practice here. I am dedicated to supporting firm-wide business development focussed on the Chinese market by helping the firm develop, refine, and execute its business development strategy for the Chinese market, as well as project managing on China-related matters.
CEELM: What do your clients appreciate most about you?
R.P.: I would say that I am responsive, positive, open, hardworking, and stand my ground. In the words of one of my clients, “though she is young, she stands by her views when being questioned by senior lawyers.”
CEELM: There are obviously many differences between the European and Chinese judicial systems and legal markets. What idiosyncrasies or differences stand out the most?
R.P.: The legal system in most CEE countries is a civil law system, which is the same in China. However, differences do exist. One thing I want to highlight is timing: In certain ways, China is a highly-controlled country. Multiple approvals/filings are required from different authorities in terms of outbound investments, which can take weeks. Sending funds out of China also requires the blessing of the foreign exchange authority. In addition, if the company is state-owned, a green light from the ultimate shareholder is required. Together with typical Chinese negotiation tactics, the process is often very slow. Sometimes, this can be a deal breaker.
While in most CEE countries, it would not involve such a complex approval/filing process.
CEELM: How about the cultures? What differences strike you as most resonant and significant?
R.P.: Not that many. Czechs look more serious and behave in a more direct way. The trust-building process is relatively fast despite the different cultures. I believe it would be the same case across other CEE countries. Chinese are generally more sensitive and less direct in their manner. When dealing with Chinese investors, having another Chinese face on your team helps considerably in making the clients relax and feel reassured.
One common thing I believe Czechs – and people in most CEE countries – share with Chinese is that we are all hard-working and driven and want to develop our professional careers.
CEELM: Do you plan to return to China at some point?
R.P.: I have no immediate plans to return to China. There is so much to explore in CEE/Europe.
CEELM: Outside of the Czech Republic, which CEE country do you enjoy visiting the most, and why?
R.P.: This is a tough question, as I enjoy traveling. It is a learning process and I always get inspired by my travels to different countries and different nations.
Slovakia: Nice people, cozy environment, and robust economic growth. Hungary: a perfect combination of a dynamic business environment and serious people. Serbia: a hub for major Chinese state-owned enterprises spreading business in CEE, and a very pro-Chinese society. Croatia: unforgettable amazing strawberries as well as a beautiful countryside.
CEELM: What’s your favorite place to take visitors in Prague?
R.P.: I have two places where I visit at least once a week. The first is Nase Maso – in English, “Our Meat.” It is actually a butcher shop but a very good place for a great meal. Not only because it has the best beef tartar in Prague, but also because of the people working there. They are positive, caring, and energetic. You can feel their passion and love for their job and customers. They continually remind me of the attitude I should always have and what my colleagues have already had – do what you love and love what you do! Plus, people there know me well, and make me feel at home.
The second is Vysehrad – in English, “Upper Castle.” It is a quiet place where you can enjoy the sunshine during the weekend or have a beer with your friends after work. The most important thing is, it is not crowded.
This Article was originally published in Issue 5.6 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.