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Zou Crossman Wen
Former Featured Alumni June 2009

Terry Crossman is the founder and principal of Cross Search International Inc. and runs their Beijing office. He has over 17 years of experience in executive search of which 13 years has been in China. Mr. Crossman, a U.S. native and fluent Mandarin speaker for over 35 years, is an honors graduate with a BA degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978.

Our regular feature of Penn alumni living or working in Beijing is being introduced with the launch of the Penn Club of Beijing¡¯s new website. Here we get to know more about our alumni with topics that can range from what brought them to China, to their line of work and their amazing experiences.

We begin our featured alumni series with the current president of the Penn Club of Beijing, Terry Crossman. It is fitting that the person that has kept the club going for over 11 years tell us some of the highlights of club activity through today, what brought him to China and what led him to his involvement with the club.

At an early age, Terry became interested in Asian philosophy and studied Chinese history in high school. Upon graduation in the early 1970s, he took a gap year when he actually took a slow boat to China. This coal freighter had an all Chinese crew, and the trip was an amazing experience for a very independent 18 year old young man.

He spent his time in Taiwan studying Chinese, editing English documents at a trading company, teaching English, modeling and even doing some television ads. While in Taiwan, he applied to the University of Pennsylvania as well as other top American colleges. He got accepted to three great schools but had no one to help him with his decision.

This later led Terry to get involved with student interviewing so that students would have the guidance from alumni familiar with the university and that would help them make more informed decisions. He made his decision on Universities based on the Chinese programs offered at the three schools and Penn came out on top. At 19, he knew what he wanted to study and devoured as many resources as were available during his 4 years at Penn.

After graduating from Penn, Terry wanted to return to China since he was fluent in Chinese. He found a job as a management trainee at an insurance company that is now CIGNA that took him to New York briefly and then to Singapore. He was then transferred to Hong Kong where he enjoyed the local sites with his Singaporean girlfriend who would later become his wife.
In 1983, he moved to San Francisco and started a career in personnel development with a company that helped companies transform their culture. Two years later, he opened up their office in Hong Kong. Over the next few years, Terry began training executives in micro computing, ran Thomas Cook Traveller Cheques in the Far East and later went back into insurance with AIG in a regional capacity.

It was in the late 80¡¯s that Terry became active in Penn alumni events, starting with being part of the original committee that set up the Ivy Ball in Hong Kong, then taking on the role of VP for Events with the goal of creating value for the club membership and finally taking on the role of President of the Penn Club of Hong Kong from 1988-1992. The Club was founded back to the early 1960s; and while serving as President, he researched and published a history of the club and put together the first print membership directory.

Terry has always loved connecting people with people and the Penn Club was a natural outlet for this passion. It was at a Penn event when one of his fellow alumni said to him: ¡°Terry, you really should be in executive search.¡± At that time, he was frustrated with the corporate politics at AIG, and he started researching the search industry, but got sidetracked into trying to launch a regional recruitment advertising and career management journal while also parlaying his research in the industry to consulting work with the US based Executive Recruiter News.

In 1992, Terry left Hong Kong and moved his family to Phoenix, Arizona where he served as secretary of the local Penn Club, and got his start in the search business in hi-tech recruitment with a Phoenix based company called Sterling Human Resource Consultants; they subsequently sent him to their Beijing office in 1995 to build up their China business. His family followed shortly thereafter.

After 13 plus years of recruiting senior Chinese managers in China, Terry has seen the ups and downs of hiring in China from the go-go greenfield years of the mid 90¡¯s to the doldrums of the 97 financial crisis through the dot com boom and then the SARS slowdown in 2003 to the post WTO boom and now the uncertainty of the times we now face. One key element has remained constant though all these years, boom or bust, all companies need effective and trustworthy Chinese executives in order to succeed in this market.

In 2008, Terry¡¯s son, Schuyler Crossman, graduated from Penn with a degree in Political Science and Economics. It was exactly 30 years since Terry graduated from Penn. He was honored to represent the class of 1978 in the procession. It was made even more special since he did not attend his own graduation since his parents could not attend. It was actually the first time that Terry had ever worn a cap and gown! The graduation ceremonies with his son were the highlight of his 30 year Penn reunion.

We thank Terry for being our first featured alumnus living and working in Beijing.

If you know an alum you think we should feature, send an e-mail to pcbj@pennclubbeijing.com.

June 2009