Li Annie Long Qiao: Can you be arrested for managing change?

Annie Linkedin

Annie Li is unique in many ways:

  • One of our 'First 500' to be certified in the world with CCMP,
  • Our first CCMP graduate in China, and
  • The leader of an ACMP Qualified Education Provider.

We had the pleasure of meeting her at the recent ACMP global conference and needed to learn more about this energetic lady!

Annie, tell us how you got involved in change management.

It was very dramatic! In 2006, I was working for Nokia Network China focused on quality improvement. After taking Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Coach training, I began a coaching program for Service department managers which lasted 6 months with very good feedback. That year, the merger of Nokia and Siemens Network was announced. My boss was appointed as the project manager of the merger and he needed a change management lead in China. He came to me and said, "Annie, no one in China understands change management, but as an EQ coach you are the only one here who knows people and cares about them. Would you like to try?"

I said YES! That was a big moment as I look back. In one week I was on a plane to Finland to learn about Change Management and begin working with a global change management team to develop the plan. I had started my journey!

The 'merge and integrate' program lasted 3 years handling organization change, system and process integration and culture transformation. I learned a lot and achieved a lot. I loved the work so much that when IBM asked me if I wanted to be a professional change management consultant, I accepted with no hesitation. 

At IBM I became the most recognized CM consultant by customers. One year later, I was appointed as the China leader for IBM Technical Driven Change Management Committee.

Wow! That's quite an achievement! Since you had already accomplished so much, why was CCMP important to you?

In China, I am one of the few people who has practiced change management, trained both 'in-house' and also as a consultant. I’ve been successful integrating my facilitation, coaching and emotional intelligence skills with six sigma knowledge and professional change management methods and tools. Having supported many successful projects and accumulating rich experiences, I was confident in telling colleagues and clients that I am one of the best change management consultants and trainers they can find in China. But how could I build up the confidence of those who don’t yet know my history and work? Then came the CCMP, the first well-known professional certificate in this discipline initiated by the most recognized association of CM practitioners.  It set such a high bar for candidates. It has such a strict process and examination. I thought, "That ’s the best way I can say 'I am the best'."

You were among the first people to apply. Tell us about your experience with the application process.

I liked the essay questions and exam the most. They are a true test differentiating real CM practitioners from those who have only taken change management training. The essay questions are based on real scenarios you encounter on projects - not the toughest ones, but they truly call for solid experience in order to answer well. 

The exam aligns with ACMP's Standard for Change Management which is based on professional change managers' experience on real projects. I did not spend a lot of time memorizing The Standard, but focused on learning the content in alignment with my consulting experience. I was fortunate to have conducted the translation of The Standard to Chinese which helped a lot. 

How will CCMP help you in your career?

CCMP builds and enhances my professional image, increasing my credibility. It is a competitive advantage. Many companies in China providing CM training only work at the theory level. There is a difference, for example, between explaining Kotter's 8 steps and actually doing it. Customers often can't recognize the difference when looking for help. Achieving CCMP illustrates that difference.

Some of the Chinese media reported that I had received my CCMP certificate which raises not only my visibility but that of the discipline of change management so that customers begin to see there is a real difference between knowing and doing.

ACMP Board Member Mary Sylvester congratulating Annie on graduation

ACMP Board Member Mary Sylvester congratulating Annie on graduation

Have people noticed your new designation yet? 

Yes, many! I put it on my business card, in my company introduction and I use it in my introduction during each training session. Some of my friends told others, “ You know what? Annie won a global medal!” That’s a big thing.

We have a group of the top professionals in China for areas such as HRBP, OD and Leadership Development. Once they knew I had received this new designation as one of just 88 in the world so far, they invited me to share my experience. Now, in China, if you post a question online asking for a recommended Change Management trainer, consultant or facilitator, my name will appear. 

You also represent a Qualified Education Provider. Tell us about your company. 

I started my company in 2013. It is the only one in China focusing purely on change management. We design and deliver training customized for people’s roles, change type, change phase and scope, integrating facilitation and team coaching skills. We run large scale change workshops and provide professional change consultants for big projects. 

We are committed to developing change management discipline in China. Our mission is “To provide endless value to clients by being the ultimate professional in Change Management in China” (The actual Chinese words are: To indulge clients unconditionally. To grow into ultimate CM professional endlessly). Because we are 'QEP approved', our training counts towards CCMP certification.

Being a QEP shows the accountability of our product to the discipline and worldwide standard created by ACMP, while CCMP demonstrates the credibility of the person using this product. Like a hero with a powerful artifact, QEP and CCMP amplify each other dramatically, bringing out the best in each other.

How about a story to wrap things up?

Like many others, I found it difficult to explain my job to my parents . When I worked for IBM, it was OK because IBM is famous and they trusted the business reputation. When I resigned and started my own business they got worried. Once they saw me taking a box of Lego to work to facilitate a workshop:

Parents: Is this your business? 

Me: Yes. 

Parents: By playing with toys?

Me: Yes.

Parents: People pay you for this?

Me: Yes

Parents: Will a policeman come to arrest you some day?

Me: ……

They still don’t know what change management is, however, when they heard I received the CCMP credential, they stopped worrying. After all, it doesn’t sound like something that the police will arrest me for. :-)