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Alumni Interview | Philippe XU: Cross-Border Innovations in Traditional Industries


  • Philippe XU
  • KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA 2011 Intake
  • Managing Director
  • STS Advertising Co.,Ltd.


Philippe XU, Managing Director at STS Advertising Co.,Ltd. (former Shanghai Electric Advertising Co.,Ltd.), has previously worked in internet companies such as and Snda. During the period, he has also founded an exhibition company, an online marketing company and an O2O Internet start-up. Well experienced in the field of internet advertising and exhibition industry, Philippe has developed a profound understanding of new technologies application in the digital transformation and business model innovation of traditional industries. In his view, with broader commercial rollout of 5G in 2019, the exhibition industry will undoubtedly follow the global megatrend of industrial upgrading. Expert in internet marketing, he is motivated to make optimal use of his cross-border advantages to occupy a leading place in the playing field of Intelligent Exhibition.


Qualities as a marketer: precise, sensitive and out of the common

Philippe spent his study years in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature in Fudan University and that of Fashion Design in ESMOD, the world first and oldest fashion design school in France. When he worked as intern for a French clothing company, he found the interest in marketing and decided to start his career in the field. Although he was not professionally trained, his key strengths as a future marketer were shaped by his willingness to listen, communicate and create in the early times.

From the age of print media to that of PC internet and mobile internet, Philippe believes that a qualified marketer should always be “precise, sensitive and out of the common”. The idea came from his first job in a travel magazine. Instead of showing the readers typical spoon-feed advertisements, a usual practice of travel magazines at that time, Philippe and his team would always have an in-depth talk with the advertiser (resort hotels in most cases), visit the spot in flesh if possible and prepare the content marked by its practicality and richness from the angle of travelers. Doing the job in that way not only eases the readers’ pressure by helping them pick out quality accommodations, but also caters to the needs of hotels to highlight a selected product, and distinguishes the magazine from other competitors by creating added-value to the brand.


“Doing the same work in a different way may well bring benefits to you and the industry you serve. Both new ideas and technologies could be a catalyst of this innovative practice.”


After the work in print media, Philippe joined successively and Snda, two leading internet companies of that time, where he learned about online advertising and mastered the marketing skills under its ecosystem.

According to Philippe, from traditional advertisement to ad exchange system until digital marketing, each innovation is a survival test for marketers and the industry they serve. As a marketer, to be sensitive and creative means not only being good at capturing market demand, but also knowing how to predict global trend and follow it through timely transformation and upgrading. And the next megatrend, unquestionably, is the commercialization of 5G technology.


MBA experience: redefinition of leadership and career objective

In 2011, Philippe joined Snda, in charge of advertising and marketing. In pursuit of systemic management knowledge and leadership improvement, Philippe attended KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA programme:


“KEDGE Business School and Shanghai Jiao Tong University are two renowned institutions of higher education and KEDGE is reputed for its business studies regarding its global ranking and international accreditations. With my appreciation of French culture, I can think of no better choice than this programme.”


Speaking of how the MBA experience has helped him in the career development, Philippe listed 3 key points:

  • Holistic management vision:

The work before MBA is usually more about specialized fields and required little knowledge of other functions. Through the MBA study, the participants could have a deeper and holistic understanding of business and market and learn much theoretical knowledge and practical skills about how to make strategies and lead a team, a department, even the whole company.

  • Multi-industry elites’ network:

The participants of the programme are all top professionals of the industry they are working for. Talking to them gives an opportunity to be informed of the current state of a certain industry and its development trend in a very efficient way. Moreover, the relationship built in class means more reliable business cooperation possibilities in the future.

  • Entrepreneurship and career objective:

The course about innovation and entrepreneurship was impressively useful. Covering almost all steps to create a business from strategic planning to implementation of projects, it laid a solid foundation for Philippe’s entrepreneurship and also helped fix his career objective - making use of cross-border advantages in internet marketing to play a part in the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries.

After graduation from the Global MBA programme, Philippe became managing director at Shanghai Electric Advertising Co.,Ltd. (now STS Advertising Co.,Ltd.). As the main exhibition vendor for Shanghai Electric Group, one of the biggest enterprises in equipment manufacturing industry of China, the company’s business covers almost all the traditional industries. And according to Philippe, when the group is now developing towards intelligent manufacturing, the exhibitions will inevitably be adapted to a new configuration.


Traditional industries upgrading: Intelligent Exhibition under the trend of 5G

When asked why he chose exhibition industry as cross-border entry point, Philippe mentioned the potential boom of exhibition economy in the near future. In addition to his working experience in the industry, the estimation was also based on his confidence in the revolutionary changes that the 5G technology would bring about and the dynamic development of the domestic exhibition market.


“The internet has developed for more than 20 years, while the changes on informatization and digitalization it has made to other traditional industries are almost absent in the exhibition industry. And it is mainly due to the facilities and site limitations. With the development of 5G, the qualitative evolution of data transmission will break the limits and push forward the application of virtualization in an incredible speed. That’s why it is now, the best timing, for me to devote my career into Intelligent Exhibition.”


In Philippe’s point of view, when the fragmented data processing becomes systematic and centralized, when each part along the industry chain achieves real-time communication, when the off-line exhibitions are extended to 24/7 online exhibitions, the industry is upgraded to platform-based, replicable and permanent Intelligent Exhibition. Owing to the innovation of business model and profit model, Intelligent Exhibition will reap the benefits of economies of scale and becomes a new sustainable industry.

“Certainly, new technologies alone won’t make Intelligent Exhibition a reality. What we also need is a systematic solution which standardizes the whole business process and integrates all the moves involved from preparation to post-show, such as marketing, construction, coordination, demonstration, data processing and reuse. And that’s what I’m focused on.”

As an experienced marketer, Philippe knows where his strengths lie. Through free trial and training kit, the systematic solution he intends to offer will help his clients take advantage of the new technologies in a more efficient way and maximize the marketing efficiency of their products and services.

Reviewing all the international conferences and exhibitions he attended before like EMO Hannover, World Energy Congress, Philippe sees a broader and more promising market in China. Besides big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, many 2nd-tier and 3rd-tier cities are holding a considerable amount of international exhibition events and the numbers are still increasing. As China is expected to be the global leader for 5G, the domestic exhibition market could be seen as the best piloting for Intelligent Exhibition.


Long-tail business: SMEs in Intelligent Exhibition

As a frequent exhibition visitor, the pyramid of exhibition industry is nothing new to Philippe: despite the numerical superiority of the SMEs, the main exposure is always occupied by a few large companies. On account of this long-tail business, Philippe chose SMEs as his specific customer segments for the systematic solution of Intelligent Exhibition.


“The benefits of Intelligent Exhibition for SMEs are obvious. A cost-effective and convenient platform not only helps small and medium-sized exhibitors to extend their display space for more exposure, but also allows the offline show to get directly connected to online marketing system for subsequent big data analysis, precise advertising and consequently secure more purchase orders. A sustainable closed loop is thus achieved.”


In addition to commercial value considerations, Philippe said market acceptance and practicality are also reasons why he is more bullish on SME customers. Compared with large enterprises, SMEs are more tolerant, flexible and efficient when faced with upgrading relying on new technologies, which will better fulfill the values of Intelligent Exhibition systematic solution in terms of effectiveness, revenue increase and operational excellence.


“2019 is the starting point for the commercialization of 5G and will also be the most important year for the intelligentification of exhibition industry. On this path of innovation, I expect to integrate the latest technologies and marketing expertise into the traditional exhibition industry and make optimal use of my cross-border advantages to occupy a leading place in the playing field of Intelligent Exhibition.”


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