Connecting in China

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Ni Hao,

As I am writing this post, I am sitting at home working and will only be back in the office next week Thursday. What happened? Last week, I ended my rotation in China prematurely because of the Coronavirus and went back to Sweden. The last couple of weeks, I will finish my rotation remotely and already transition into my new rotation.

At Husqvarna Group, we follow a local production strategy meaning that we try to produce products for the local markets tailored to the local needs. We produce many entry level products in Changzhou for the global market and some semi-professional products for the APAC market.

Me in a temple in Changzhou

I was in Changzhou to learn more about our manufacturing plant in China during a six month rotation. Once again, I had the opportunity to discover a new culture, a new environment and meet new people. But this time was different. Relocating to China, even if it is only for some months, brings a lot more challenges than moving to Sweden.

Visiting Japan

Our factories are tightly connected and supply many components to each other. As a matter of fact, our Japanese factory in Kawagoe is one of our biggest suppliers and vice versa. And since I came to learn all about the manufacturing in APAC, I went to Japan for two weeks talking about our business together and visiting suppliers. Our plant in Japan produces mostly for the Japanese market and mainly the brand Zenoah (Red Max in the US).

Testing our japanese ride-on mower

After two months in China, Japan felt like the opposite in many aspects (a little bit like Sweden if you ask me). Especially business meetings with suppliers are certainly an experience in Japan. There are many etiquettes one must stick to. For example: Before the meeting formally starts, everyone will introduce themselves to everyone formally handing over their visiting cards (hold them with both hands and study the content when you receive them). Then hand over your card and say a few words about yourself and your title. I really should have been more aware of that and I should have packed my visiting cards when I went to Japan. It was quite awkward to tell everyone that I do not have my visiting cards with me. But I am a trainee to learn, so it’s fine.

Learning to adapt in China

What you need to know about me is that I am fairly self-reliant. I have learned from early on to manage by myself. But with a strategy of being self-reliant you run into a wall in China. That is for two reasons: 1. You cannot manage on your own there. Even the most trivial things become major challenges. How do you find a supermarket? Google maps? Doesn’t work. Then the Chinese maps. Search term? It will not find supermarkets for you. But if you translate supermarkets into Chinese you get results. But then you get like 100 results and most of them are these super tiny kiosks. Long story short: I learned to rely more on my colleagues. 2. The Chinese are very happy to help out. Asking for help also helps making friends there. They want to build a trustful relationship and if they can help you with something, it’s a start. Also in a work context I rely on team work much more in China than I used to in Sweden.

There are obviously many more dimensions that require adaptation when you move into another culture that I will not mention here but I think it is important to adapt, not assimilate. I, for example, will always keep my personality and my directness or bluntness at times but I can carefully choose when to show it. If you want to read more about this I recommend the book “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer.

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My first few months with Supply Chain and Analytics

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Hej readers!

My name is Raphael and I am the Global Trainee in Supply Chain Management. I originally come from Hamburg, Germany, but moved to Jönköping in summer 2016 to study Supply Chain Management here, like many of my fellow Germans. While most Germans returned to Germany after graduation, I liked it here in Sweden so I decided  to stay.

Before moving to Sweden, I worked in Germany and I bring experience in IT and data management from Hamburg. At an earlier point in my career, I realized  that I wanted to develop into an analyst role. When I start a new position, I like to differentiate myself and find a role in which I feel I can make a difference. And there are certainly many ways to do that, depending on your own talents and personality. I saw an opportunity to choose the Analyst direction and I went for it.
So when I started at Husqvarna Group some months back, I gradually recognized that my skills in SQL, Power Query and Excel would not get to waste.

I like working as an Analyst because it challenges me on a daily basis and it makes me investigate adjacent business areas that I may otherwise not have looked into. The process of making sense of data leads me to understanding processes from different perspectives by talking with different departments. When thinking of an Analyst, people sometimes associate that with a person who sits quietly in front of a computer the whole day but I think it is much more than that.
Next to that, I also work as a demand coordinator for several countries in Asia. I try to match their demand with our production as good as possible. That is sometimes challenging because we have customers all around the globe, even small countries like the Fiji islands, and we also produce our products in many countries. That creates a very complex supply chain that we need to manage.

I hope telling you a bit about my and/or our challenges got you more interested. As you can see, as a Trainee in the Husqvarna Group you are not expected to sit by and watch. Instead you get a lot of responsibilities and opportunities very early on – which I find very exciting!  

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