Today I would like to give you insights into the life of a DRIVE Graduate (Continental Trainee Program), particularly the experience of working abroad. When I first got to know that I had the opportunity of working in Shanghai, I grabbed it with both hands. Who would miss out this golden opportunity of working in this millenial city!
Iconic Shanghai Background!Being Indian and having lived in Germany for roughly 4 years, I have quite a bit of experience of living in an international environment. I was expecting it to be the same with Shanghai. Since Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, I had the impression that most of the people will understand English. But man, was I wrong! I still remember the first time I landed in Shanghai and trying to take a cab, using Google translate (yes, it works in China!). But a smile goes a long way. People are really helpful and they often go out of their way to help you. Within the next days, I downloaded a bunch of Apps that you need in order to survive in China! It is difficult to imagine life here without Mobile payment service (WeChat and Alipay). The scale of bike sharing is also commendable. These and some other apps have certainly made my life much more comfortable. I was astonished at the technology acceptance of the people here. The highlight for me was when I ordered some food in my hotel and a Robot came to deliver it!
I was given a very warm welcome on my 1st day at Continental Shanghai. I must say that it was a very smooth transition for me from a German working environment to a Chinese one. Maybe because I had aligned the scope of my work with both my German and Chinese manager before arriving in Shanghai. Since I was the only non-Chinese in my department, I would say that I had an X-factor! I made most use of it to make friends and my colleagues made sure that I have everything that I need. I even got a Chinese name! One thing that I have noticed here is that colleagues discuss personal life to a great extent, unlike in western countries. There is a very thin line (or sometimes, even no line) between personal and professional life.
Since I work in Innovation Management in a cross BU team, I made contacts with many influential Continental people in China. One of the highlights of my Shanghai assignment was presenting my results to all the Interior Division BU Heads. This opportunity of speaking in front of top management and answering their queries has certainly helped me grow professionaly and enhanced my management skills. Successful organisation of Global Trend Antenna Convention is also something that I thoroughly enjoyed. I believe that the network I have now is a huge asset for my future endeavours in Continental.
Dinner on numerous occasions, KTV nights, playing Badminton and Table Tennis weekly, company outing for 3 days in a nearby island, Continental Annual Party, Chinese New Year Party are some of the examples of ‘Work hard, Party harder’ lifestyle I enjoyed here. The highlight for me was dancing to a Bollywood (Indian) song with my team in front of more than 1000 people at the Continental China Annual Party!
Shanghai has everything you need. You can immerse yourself into ancient Chinese history and architecture or enjoy the stunning view of the city from the 118th floor! If you want to enjoy the delicacies of various Chinese cuisines or miss the food from your home country, everything is available through a touch on your smartphone. With Shanghai being a millenial city, you will find a lot of Expats here. I made a lot of friends from all over the world in Shanghai and you will realise how easy it is here to make friends (both locals and Expats). Apart from visiting Shanghai, I made the most out of my stay in China by exploring different cities; Beijing, Hangzhou, Xi’an, Harbin, to name a few. Every city has their own charm, but they have one thing in common : The friendliness of the People!
To summarise, Shanghai is a perfect place for any professional aiming to enhance his network in any field. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing about various topics, both personal and professional, with people from all over the world. Working in this high-tech city has certainly enhanced my innovative mindset. Based on my short stay of 8 months in Shanghai, I can truly say that ‘The Future is Here’. So, if you have an opportunity to experience life in Shanghai, grab it!