Felicia Chang

Felicia Chang barely spoke English when she arrived in the United States to attend graduate school in the early 1990s. Beyond “hello” and “good-bye,” the Beijing native floundered. So Chang logged hours in the library and typed her papers six times before turning them in. By the end of her first semester, she had gotten almost all A’s. “Because of the money we pay in tuition, everyone back home puts all this big hope with us,” Chang says of her motivation. “The challenge itself was really exciting and the opportunity in the U.S. was also very exciting. I felt like I had a choice of whatever I wanted to do if I worked hard.” Today, the 46-year-old Rochester resident owns A Global Way Today, a company that specializes in helping small- and medium-sized organizations understand China’s market and make strategic connections. She started her business in 2009 after years working at General Motors, where she started as a design engineer. After earning her MBA from the University of Michigan in 2006, she moved on to sales and market forecasting, vehicle planning and emerging market strategies at GM. China’s explosive growth and her connections in the country prompted Chang to strike out on her own. “Because the culture varies and due to economic differences, there’s not enough assistance and service that can help businesspeople,” she says. “It really requires someone with business experience, along with the cultural and language background.” Her fellow Chinese immigrants, she says, have much to contribute to metro Detroit – even those who, like her, arrive with limited language skills. “Immigrants from China bring a specific knowledge base,” she says. “The education there is very strong. It enables us to adapt and contribute even where there’s a language challenge. It gives you a boost.” “Most of the people are very hard working, very talented,” she adds. “They bring investment opportunities, and, if they stay in Detroit, they can make better connections and generate better business opportunities.”

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