16. February 2017
When I started my expatriation program in 2016, the year of the monkey took place according to the Chinese horoscope. This year was considered to be in the element of fire, which brought several particularities with it.
When I started my journey from Austria to China in April 2016, I had no idea about its meaning, yet I felt it very soon. It was as though the introductory sentences were written for TGW, hasn‘t it always been our motto? Don‘t hesitate, a lot can happen and fast pacing! Yes, it is! I know, as I have been accompanying TGW since 1995. A long time, where a lot of things have changed. And now we are in China, the US and in Europe, ... we are acting globally. You could also say that the sun does not set in the world of TGW. As soon as people leave the office in China, the colleagues in the US start their day.
Honestly, in the beginning I didn‘t know exactly what I should expect, when I accepted to assume this task as Chief Operation Officer (COO) in China. When you decide not to take the taxi into the city, but public transport, you will enjoy the train (MAGLEV) with more than 430 km/h; floating into the city. And let me tell you it‘s just like flying, yet completely different.
The first weekend in Shanghai already was a little highlight, as the Formula 1 was there and I decided to take a look at it before long. It was even reachable via subway, which I happily found out. I will be there in no time, was my false assumption. It took me a whopping 1.5 hours on the train until I arrived at the Shanghai circuit. It was then, when I realised the dimensions of the city of Shanghai. Shanghai is big, and of course, I didn‘t see everything, but a lot of impressive things. More than 24 million people live in this metropolis. There are buildings which house more people than some Austrian cities.
When I mingled with the people, I was impressed by the variety of the country, the city and the people. There was not even one second in which I was afraid about myself or my belongings - can you say this about a lot of big cities? Whether the people understood what I wanted to say or not, they always tried to help. Even if sometimes I did not end up where I wanted. You have to know, if you ask a question here, you will get an answer, and people are always polite and try to help. But not everyone knows the right answer to your question. If you ask for directions, for example, you might start running into the wrong direction in a quite convinced manner. It only helps partly that the map on your mobile phone shows your position with an accuracy of a couple of hundred metres.
Shanghai is a mega metropolis and thus, interesting and attractive for everybody who wants to gain experiences abroad. People speak English contrasting the more rural areas and often you see things published bilingually including street names, metro signs, etc. The metro takes you everywhere and you will never be alone in there. At rush-hour it sometimes occurs that you have to squeeze yourself into the second or third train.
Good food, is a special highlight in China. Hot Pot, Korean BBQ, Teppanyaki and so much more - our Chinese colleagues will not get tired to introduce you to new and interesting places. After a few months you will be a food expert yourself, like I learned from the more experienced foreigners. I also found out that it is never too late for new habits. In China I discovered a new passion for swimming. In more than 80 hours I covered over 200 kilometres in the water. You probably don‘t get such crazy ideas at home.
OPENNESS & BUILDING BRIDGES
Thanks to the openness of the colleagues and the associates here in China, much has succeeded. It wouldn‘t have been possible to build bridges, if there was one unwilling side.
GROWTH IN SHANGHAI
The unit in Shanghai is still small and young within the TGW Group, however, it has everything to grow quickly. The market is starting to recognise us and we have great chances to reap what we sow in a couple of years.
RESPECT AS BASIS
This sow needs care and we do this by sharing experiences, challenging and encouraging at the same time. Respect is probably the most important basis, and it is not only, but especially here in China one of the greatest assets.
DEALING WITH CORE VALUES
I have also witnessed, how serious my team is dealing with the TGW core values. They are no empty words, they are filled with life. This way, the culture of China is melting with the values of TGW.
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