Being a Chinese Woman in the Car Industry
by Cherrie Zhang – Thanks to my first job after I finished school in 2003, I have a large passion for cars. At that time, I worked at Mercedes-Benz in China, which brought me into this dynamic and powerful industry. At the very beginning I knew nothing about cars, but I knew what I wanted – to work hard and make myself a professional first-class business woman one day, just like a Mercedes-Benz car. I wanted to have a solid knowledge about my job and how cars work, being trustworthy to people who know me and always try to improve my skills and competencies. The company gave me ways to reach this by providing me with various tasks, working from project management of dealerships, network establishment and expansion, to leading customer-marketing experiences. I have learnt so much along the way.
In the pursuit of enhancing academic knowledge and experiencing a foreign country’s dynamic culture, I quit my job and everything else in 2008 and flew to Denmark to study. 4 years later after graduation, I returned to China and I am currently in Shanghai working in the field of Business Development Consulting on Analysis & Reporting at JATO Dynamics, an international automotive business intelligence services and consulting company. This job also enabled my career transition in the auto industry from the previous B2C to now B2B field, as my main work is focusing on the Car Markets and Vehicles Analysis & Reporting projects to our clients – international and national automakers.
Increasing challenges come while working and competing in such a male-dominated industry, but I still feel good especially at times when I can talk with colleagues, managers and external clients expertised in vehicles about engines, transmission, technical data and so on.
The automotive industry is a very large and globalized industry. The international big OEMs has already made a strong foothold in many developed and fast-growing countries, meaning no one single OEM is completely independent in operations in one single country and the business activities are already spread into multiple countries. For example, while my French and Italian colleagues presented a Russian project, I also presented one sample report I created about the Russian auto market as well as the US auto retail market report, which focuses more on new car dealership network in the States. What’s more is that I’m now also creating a Nordic auto markets report featuring the differences and similarities of each car market through the tight comparison of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland and I feel like I have a lot to say and analyse, thanks to my experience with living in Denmark. Such work makes me very happy.
Continuously adapting myself to my home country’s culture
by Cherrie Zhang, Business Development Consultant at JATO Dynamics Shanghai
The 4 years, I was living and studying in Denmark was a very delightful and meaningful journey in my life. However, this experience also made me struggled somewhat after I got back to China. The power of the social environment can influence you a lot, especially on your mind of thinking.
The typical Danish flat management and communication style, makes me feel very comfortable. While I had some to say, I just felt free to speak out in the class to the teacher and to my classmates and they welcomed it. While I interned at Mercedes-Benz Denmark, I could just knock at the Director’s office door and he was open to listen to my ideas and support me. But when it came to work in China, without my consciousness I did the same thing, but I was suggested to talk through the reporting line. A couple of emails and calls later, I found that my idea was finally passed to the receiver. Not easy, I’m Chinese and I know my home country’s hierarchical culture, I don’t like that but have to adjust myself to adapt to it because I alone can’t change the social environment. I encountered many similar circumstances like this. What I’m saying is not to judge a country’s culture. Culture is not right or wrong thing. I thus have to balance and adapt to my comfortable and uncomfortable zones in China.
During my internship in Denmark, one Monday morning I joined a brief meeting. I was so surprised and asked myself ‘Is this a real work meeting?’ I saw colleagues brought in cakes and juices and we sat in the meeting room talking about work while eating breakfast. Yep, it is a meeting and the work talk went very effectively. I never knew the so-called blue Monday morning could be so enjoyable and cozy in the office. What’s happening in a Chinese Monday meeting? Nervous air clouds the whole room and just reporting one by one.
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