Professional Biography


Joel Backaler is Managing Director of international marketing for Frontier Strategy Group, a global business advisory serving more than 3,000 corporate executives in emerging markets.

He is the author of China Goes West (Palgrave Macmillan), an award-winning international business book that examines the global rise of Chinese brands. He is also a Forbes columnist and a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations.

Backaler brings a diverse, cross-industry perspective, having worked with many of the world’s top global brands, including: The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Cisco, HP, and Danone. He has also advised companies from emerging markets on their globalization efforts.

He is a frequent contributor to media outlets such as the Financial Times, The New York Times, Bloomberg and the Harvard Business Review. He is also a sought after public speaker, with previous engagements at the University of Chicago, London School of Economics, Princeton University, the Hamburg Summit, the Emerging Markets Summit, the U.S. Department of Commerce and numerous other venues.

Backaler is a graduate of Connecticut College and a former Fulbright Scholar. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife Qian.

Media Appearances

I am regularly featured in mainstream media outlets such as the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times and Bloomberg.  You can check out my media page for a full list of recent media mentions. If you are a journalist seeking commentary for a piece that you are working on contact me.

Recently, I have been featured in the following articles:

CCTV America

Why I Do This

For years I wrote exclusively on my other blog, TheChinaObserver.com. The award-winning site focuses exclusively on the topic of Chinese companies going global. However, as I have progressed in my research and thinking, it’s become clear to me that the world itself is getting more global and Chinese companies are not the only international firms reshaping the way we compete, consume and connect. The globalization of China and Chinese firms will have a tremendous impact on the world we live in, no matter where you are based:

  • China’s “One Belt, One Road” plan aims to integrate Xi’an in central China, through Central Asia, and ultimately reach as far as Moscow, Rotterdam, and Venice
  • There are approximately 300,000 Chinese students studying abroad and 110,000 Chinese traveling abroad each year, leading to the most internationally-exposed population of Chinese citizens
  • Cross-border e-commerce between China and the world is expect to reach $289 million by 2020

To that end, I write about China, business, leadership, branding and careers all through a global lens. I aim to inspire leaders to reorient themselves to the new reality of working and living in an increasingly globalized and connected world.

My goal is to create insightful content that inspires you to the look at the world and how you do business differently.

Get in touch!

You can contact me via e-mail or connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.