A Chat With Camila

Today we sat down with our Business Developer for Latin America, Camila Castro, to learn more about her.

What do you do as a Business Developer? Which are your main responsibilities?

What I do is, I look for potential customers that could be interested in our products. I start by contacting them for the very first time, introducing our products and getting to understand what the needs are of these customers. If I manage to make them feel interested about our products, then I go on with a proper quotation or product development or whatever the need is. The main responsibility right now, as the Latin American market is a new market for Swedbrand and my efforts are to enlarge the number of customers, to increase our market share and reach the sales targets.

What does your Business Development Job mean to you?

Business development is a very big challenge to me personally. As I come from a marketing background, I have never worked in direct sales before. Therefore, this new position will really challenge my professional skills. Aside, I like talking to the clients, I really enjoy the conversations with our customers. Thankfully, the people in Latin America are friendly so you rarely get harsh answers. Essentially, it is more of a personal challenge for me, I want to make this work.

What did you do before you started at Swedbrand?

I worked as a marketing coordinator for a Dutch company in Colombia for several years. Then I came to China to do my masters in International Business at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. During the course of my master programme, I decided to start working again, and here I am.

How and why did you choose to work at Swedbrand?

In essence, I didn’t really apply for this position. There was a job fair at Jiao Tong in which Swedbrand was looking for a marketing intern. I didn’t apply for that position, as at that time, I really wasn’t interested in marketing. However, they were also looking for a native Spanish speaker. I left my contact information with them and a couple weeks afterwards, they called me because Swedbrand wanted to embark on the market development project in Latin America. So, it literally just happened.

What is the most interesting thing that you have learned so far at Swedbrand?

Well many things. I am very happy to be able to work under and with the guidance of European mentality and people. This is due to the fact, that the way of working is very different to the way you work in Latin America. Even the working environment is different, Latin Americans are very emotional. Although it may take longer to build personal relationships with your co-workers, it is very efficient and well-organised and I am really enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with efficiency.

Try to describe Swedbrand in 3 words

  • Multicultural
  • Flexible
  • Empowering

What do you like the most about the company and our team?

The thing I like the most, aside from the co-workers, as already touched upon before is the working-mentality. I truly enjoy the efficiency, the fact that it is a professional environment and that the developments and working environment don’t involve emotions as much, as compared to Latin American working environments.

Where are you originally from? Can you tell us a little bit about that place?

I am originally from Bogota in Colombia. Bogota is a city located 2’700 meters above sea-level in the mountains. It is not hot, contrarily to what people might think and we have no seasons, because Bogota is located at the equatorial line. This means that the weather never changes and sunrise as well as sunset is always around the same time. The temperature is steady, between 15 and 16 degrees Celsius all year long.

What is different about living in Shanghai as compared to Bogota?

I have the feeling that time moves much faster in China. I cannot really tell why, as Bogota is also a major city with over 10 million inhabitants, very busy and also plagued with traffic jams and so on. Additionally, Shanghai is unique in the way that if you don’t speak proper Chinese, you will stay sort of an outsider in the Chinese environment. You hang out with foreigners, you live in your little world, you go around in foreigner-areas, eat in expat restaurants, but you don’t get fully involved in the place. The language makes for a huge barrier. You just do what is necessary and common in Chinese culture but you never get fully involved. And I think that makes you, even if you stay here for a long time, always remain an outsider.

What are the 3 things you miss the most from Colombia?

What I miss about my country is the politeness and the warmth of the people. Also, I miss the fact that there is almost no pollution. But what I miss the most are natural juices and fruits and vegetables that are all organic and extremely cheap. Because we drink natural juices three times per day accompanying our meals. We don’t eat with water nor with wine. Therefore, I feel like I am missing out on a lot of Vitamins living here in Shanghai.

What do you like most about living in Shanghai?

I like the multicultural environment. The fact that you can constantly go to dinner with your friends that come from all over the world and have interesting conversations. I also like that it is a very active life. There is always something to do, there is always nightlife, clubs, bars and exhibitions that you can go to. You are never bored.

Do you have any advice for someone who just moved to Shanghai?

Not only for people coming to Shanghai, but for foreigners coming to China in general. Foreigners should stay very open-minded. Try not to criticise what is different about the Chinese culture and habits. You should not be opposed to general behaviours, even the most critical ones that might seem gross or uncommon to us as foreigners. You should just understand and accept that it is different. That there is no good, bad or better, that it is merely the way in which we were raised which makes the difference. Additionally, if you can and have the time, try to learn Chinese as it will help you a lot. Especially if you want to discover China and the Chinese culture.

Do you have any hidden skills or talent?

I used to do figure-skating when I was a kid, for many years. I am sad that I stopped but I think that I could still do it.