Meet Six Colleagues from China
In My Real Life
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Lisa (Yue) Zhang
Assistant Technical Manager, BUSINESS UNIT PIGMENTS, SHANGHAI
Zhang brims with energy and enthusiasm. The fresh young face of the Pigment Clariant Business Unit in Shanghai says she would prefer it if there were more than 24 hours in a day and no breaks. »My main interest is in understanding how different things react with one another. So the chemistry is right, both at work and in my private life.«
She obtained a Bachelor of Engineering in plastics engineering (high polymers) from the University of Tianjin, her home town, which was her springboard into working life and also a ticket to the vibrant metropolis of Shanghai on the Huangpu River with its 23 million inhabitants. Lisa describes herself as a typical young Chinese woman: she is unattached, lives alone, wants to progress in her career and has made learning her uppermost priority in life.
As well as her varied day-to-day work in Clariant’s technical marketing department, she is taking a business administration correspondence course, which she hopes to complete in two years, and attends courses at the Japanese language school and a weekly dance class – just for a bit of fun.
»Unlike my mother, who was traditional and mainly focused on me, her only daughter, I’m trying to make the most of my abilities,« says Lisa. To be able to do that is a privilege of my generation and I consider myself very lucky.« One of her hobbies is producing oil paintings that reflect her spirit and sense of self-fulfillment. Bold in composition, they catch the eye with their luminosity and idiosyncratic brush strokes. »Whether I’m at work or enjoying my free time,« she says with a smile, »my life is always colorful.«
Margaret (Ronghua) Soong
Head of Responsible Care, Sales Head of Business Unit Emulsions, Detergents & Intermediates, Greater CHINa
Shanghai born and bred, Margaret Soong is open-minded and charismatic, and a born salesperson. The daughter of a factory manager, she was born in Shanghai, completed her studies (Bachelors in Chemical Engineering, Master of Business, MBA) and gave birth to her daughter here and is now based in Shanghai in her role at Clariant, where she has worked since 2011.
»Finally!« she says. »I waited a long time for this opportunity, because our company enjoys an excellent reputation across the world as a manufacturer of specialty chemicals.« The new era suits Margaret down to the ground, and she takes every opportunity that comes her way to shape her own destiny. She laughs infectiously: »We are completely focused on business here – that’s how we identify ourselves. And I’m the last person who would miss a good business opportunity.« Not at any price, though – that is very important to her.
»My motto is balance. Balance is the best solution to everything, whether interacting with colleagues or with clients. It’s important to establish harmonious communication on the basis of mutual respect. The product and quality also need to be right, as do the logistics. In short: individuals cannot determine how good and successful they really are; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.« Margaret is known for always giving 100 %, and for her cheerful approach and feminine perspective. Faith is important to her (»There are powers greater than us«), as is her feminine identity. She says that equality between men and women is still a long way off in China, despite the saying: »There is one heaven and only half of its residents are men.«
Max (Min) Gao
Management Trainee, Asia Pacific
Max Gao is highly qualified and ambitious. This is a young man who reflects the next generation in China: well educated, internationally focused, flexible, and determined. »I was impressed by the Clariant management trainee program when it was presented at Campus Talk at Shanghai University. I applied for the program, and was thrilled to be awarded one of the sought-after places after in-depth interviews.«
The two-year program will see Max experiencing the practical side of working life, with stints in sales, marketing and communications. It’s all new territory for Max, who completed his Masters in Chemical Engineering at Delft University and must now gain expertise in completely new areas. Articulate, independent and competent, he believes that the time he spent in the Netherlands helped him a great deal. »It taught me to take responsibility for my own actions and organize my life for myself.«
Orientation is the buzzword: »The trainee program gives me an unusually broad overview of the company, from products to processes and future objectives to company history. No day is exactly like another and I can definitely imagine myself working in this multicultural, global group environment for a long time to come.«
His first priority now when he gets home in the evening is to tell his wife all about his experiences. They met at Delft University and married at the end of 2012. »I’d like to think that we have a modern marriage based on equality, unlike my parents’ generation. We both work, we each focus on our own jobs, and we have many hobbies in common. There’s only one thing I like to do alone, and that’s playing football for the Clariant staff team.«
Coco (Hui) Yang
Head of Communications, Asia Pacific
Coco Yang is competent, charming and highly professional. The Head of Clariant Communications for the Asia Pacific region is often called »the German« by her colleagues because of her highly disciplined, hardworking and responsible nature. »You could probably also add tidy and efficient to that list,« she laughs, »but honestly – I’m Chinese born and bred and I’m only doing my job.«
So, thanks for the compliment, but let’s get back to work. There’s certainly a lot to do. She is responsible for issuing internal and external communications about any issue affecting the company. In addition, she organizes and represents Clariant at numerous trade fairs and ensures that the right tone is always struck when anything needs to be said or communicated, whether in English, German or her native language. »I live and breathe open dialog,« she says. Coco completed a Masters degree in Media Studies, English Literature Studies and Chinese Studies at the University of Trier, Germany, and has had a strong affinity with Europe ever since.
The only daughter of a stage lighting technician, she likes to describe herself as a child of the Chinese »cross-over generation« that is transitioning from the traditional to the modern, and whose members are privileged »to be able to experience both worlds: the modesty of the old and the self-confidence of the new era.« Her watchwords are »humility and dedication, honesty and integrity.«
Coco loves to read historical kung fu (wuxia) novels by author Jin Yong, and is also interested in how economic progress benefits individuals and society as a whole. »I learnt a lot about that during my years in Germany. Today, I appreciate the value of our own history,« she says with a smile. »I’ve also overcome my fear of losing face, so I’m open to criticism but I can also say no.«
Production Supervisor, CLARIANT PLANT ZHENJIANG
Wei Feng is reliability personified: a caring family man and conscientious member of staff. The young skilled chemical technician works as a shift manager at the Clariant plant in Zhenjiang, where he is responsible for maintaining product quality and safe, smooth working processes, as well as managing four machine operators. »People place a lot of trust in me,« he says, »and I don’t take that for granted – it spurs me on and makes me feel very proud.«
The son of a rice grower, he believes it is very important that job performance and personal qualities are valued, and he considers himself lucky to be part of the Clariant family: Clariant is »a global company with an excellent reputation in my country.«
The number 015 on his work clothing indicates that he was one of the first staff members at the Zhenjiang plant. He began working there in 2008 and quickly qualified for a promotion, much to the delight of his parents and wife Jialan. They all live together in one apartment, as is the norm in China. Eight-year-old daughter Keyi is the center of attention and the apple of the family’s eye, and her development is the main consideration when they think about the future. The hope is that she will go on to »higher education, and if possible to university.«
Of course, the family also has other dreams. Maybe a car one day, to replace the Lifan motorbike, or a holiday, not necessarily to a far-flung foreign destination, but perhaps to the capital Beijing. And then there’s the new flat with more space so that Wei Feng’s daughter can have her own room – at the moment she still shares a bed with her parents. As Wei Feng says, »That’s really all we need to be happy.«
Tracy (Yuhong) Zhao
Product Stewardship Manager, Greater CHINA
Tracy Zhao is cheerful and open-minded. She has found her place in the world and her inner contentment is reflected in her beaming smile. »Clariant has given me lots of opportunities to learn new skills and acquire very specialized knowledge beyond my textile chemistry studies,« she says. »I relish making a contribution and having plenty of freedom to shape my own career.«
Tracy has been working at the Clariant plant in Tianjin since 2001, and has wide-ranging responsibilities, including product registration, defining production standards – with a focus on Responsible Care und Sustainability – and certifying and approving these standards. »For me, sustainability is relevant to every area of life,« says the mother of one daughter, »whether in manufacturing, sales, the use and disposal of our specialty chemicals or in my personal life. Ultimately, my family’s welfare is just as dependent on a responsibly structured, healthy and safe environment as the operations in our plant.«
Tracy was born in modest circumstances near the city of Xi’an. She remembers: »Our everyday life was very hard. My village didn’t have any running water or electricity. I did my school work by candlelight and only really understood how big the world is when I qualified to attend college and university.« For that reason, gratitude is one of her watchwords: gratitude for her parents’ sacrifices, which enabled her to become independent, and gratitude for the broadening of her own horizons: »These are gifts that I would like to pass on to my child.«
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