Today we sat down with our Operations Manager Isabell to learn more about her.
1) What do you do as an Operations Manager? What are your main tasks?
I have worked for Swedbrand for almost 6 years already. Basically, my job is to be the link between the sourcing and the sales departments, to make sure that all projects run smoothly. Also, I coordinate administrative and legal things in Shanghai and between our European offices. So I am like ‘the office mom’.
2) You started working for Swedbrand as an intern. How do you think you have changed over the past 6 years, both on a professional and personal level?
The most obvious change for me was that I got a lot better at dealing with time pressure and in general projects and timelines. My problem solving skills improved significantly. On a personal level, my life changed a lot too. Six years is a big part of my life. Living abroad, especially in China, for such a long time, inevitably makes you change, everything goes so fast here that sometimes you may not realize it, but change is happening!
3) Could you describe the most challenging experience you have had since you started working here?
The biggest challenge is definitely finding the right people that you actually need for your company. There are so many things that depend on personality, so many small aspects that are not written on CVs, but that then, in the end, make the difference. There are a lot of leaps of faith that you have to take, obviously. You are not saved from failure, you just have to take the risk and try.
4) How do you foster teamwork in the workplace? Do you think it is difficult to create a positive work environment? And how do you manage dealing with a multi-cultural team?
That’s my secret, I won’t tell you! [She laughs]. Well, Swedbrand, as a relatively young company created by Chris and Zaid, has always been fast moving, which to me comes with lots of excitement. Fortunately, we don’t deal with boredom, which helps a lot.
I always try to perceive every employee as an individual, not only as a team member. Everyone has his own strengths and weaknesses and I think this is extremely important to remember.
About multicultural issues, in the beginning I thought that the only challenge was to work in a Chinese environment, it’s such a different culture from ours. In the office we’re a lot of Europeans, so you would think we have a lot in common. However, I realized that also within Europe people perceive things differently. Especially, me as a German, I am used to being very straightforward, without sugarcoating my words. So sometimes I really need to remind myself that the person I am talking to might not have the same mindset.
5) After living in Shanghai for such a long time, what do you think about the city? And what do you miss the most about Germany?
Even after six years, I still love Shanghai, every part of it. Every day here is exciting, something new is always happening. This is what I like the most about the city. Of course I do miss my family and friends, I wish they could live here with me!
6) We know that you used to play football back in Germany. Do you have the chance to play it here as well?
Football is my favorite sport. I’ve been playing it for around 10 years. Unfortunately, here in China I had to stop. It was more of a team thing for me, I don’t want a new team now. Our team in Germany doesn’t exist anymore; we’ve all grown up and went on separate ways.
7) What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to stay in China for a long time to come still?
I will probably move back to Europe, eventually. I would like to live closer to my family. As for the timeline, it depends on my job. I could do the same thing I am doing now the other way around: living in Europe and going on business trips to Shanghai.
8) If you could travel anywhere in the world and had the chance to do anything you wanted, which destination would you pick and what would you prefer to do? Would you like to move back to the States?
I would love to visit New Zealand and Australia. Of course both countries attract me, but I guess it is more about the people. They seem so laid back and relaxed. I would really like to get to know this culture better.
Ideally, the best thing to do for me would be a long trip across the countries. I love travelling and I miss it. I used to do long trips while studying. Nowadays, that’s a bit more difficult.