A Chat with Oriol

1. What do you do as a Sourcing Manager? Which are your main responsibilities?

As a Sourcing Manager, I have to control all the sourcing activities of our company in Asia. At Swedbrand, we source from a lot of different locations. Mostly Asia and Europe. I am responsible for the former. We have offices in Shanghai in China and Ho-Chi-Minh City in Vietnam, our main production sites. The whole process of sourcing our products is under my supervision. I am referring to making the quotations of the projects, receiving samples from the factories, every aspect of production, inspections, shipments and a lot more. So, I basically supervise the whole process. In the beginning, I received a lot of information at once, which was very confusing. But after some time, I figured out my own way – and now every day is exciting!

2. What does ‘Sourcing’ exactly mean Oriol?

Purchasing! It is about buying materials/ products from different locations. It is not as simple as your hometown marketplace though. (he smiles) There is much more involved. That is why we call it ‘Sourcing’.

3. What did you do before you started at Swedbrand?

I worked for two years at a Spanish-Chinese company. To be more precise, it was a Spanish company located in China. I was responsible for all the Store Opening Projects in Asia and Oceania. My job was focused on store furniture. Imagine a typical retail store, where all the products are showcased on tables, hangers, cupboards, closets, boxes and so on. That is the kind of furniture you need in each store. So, I was basically responsible for sourcing the different materials to assemble the furniture.

4. How long have you been in China?

The first time I came to China was in 2007 as a backpacker. I was a student at that time and I just wanted to travel and experience this massive country. I realized that so many things in Spain – my home country – were “Made in China”, so I wanted to have a first-hand experience with this remote country. Moreover, back then Spain was suffering a lot because of the financial crisis. At that time, I just graduated and it made a lot of sense for me to come here. I also wanted to experience life abroad, so China became a good fit for me. Now, 12 years after ‘that trip’ I am still here.

5. How and why did you choose to work at Swedbrand?

The place where I worked before was very far from where I lived. That meant travelling 1.5 hours every morning and evening to get to work and back home. I liked it, but it was very hard for me, as my whole life just consisted of work. It also affected my personal life, so I decided to change and search for new positions. Secondly, I wanted to work in trading – as well as in an international team. That’s why Swedbrand represented a good opportunity for me. Packaging was a complete new area for me, and that was another interesting aspect of it.

6. What is the most exciting project you have worked on at Swedbrand?

Every time I visit different factories and suppliers it is very interesting for me. Lately, I had the opportunity to see a wood factory. That was extremely interesting! Another very exciting part of my job is to see different materials and how they are used from factories to create the products which we are offering to our clients eventually, especially if you think about new eco-friendly materials.

7. What do you like the most about the company?

First of all, I like the workplace itself. Secondly, I enjoy finding myself within such a multicultural working atmosphere. I also could have never imagined how interesting it can be to work in a packaging solution company. There are many things here to be motivated for!

8. Describe Swedbrand with 3 words:

  • Global
  • Sourcing
  • Packaging

9. What have you learned from living here?

I learned to be more ambitious in China. When I was back home in Spain I was less eager to succeed. I have to say that I’ve always been a person who wanted to improve his life in general, but after I moved to China I started feeling the need to do more and also to achieve more. In Spain, it was easier for me to achieve specific goals. China can be much more challenging than your home country. And that’s what fascinates me about it!

10. Do you have any tips for someone thinking about moving to China or Shanghai? What should they be prepared for?

Tip number 1: if you want to learn Chinese, don’t move to Shanghai! (He laughs) The business language here is English. You don’t need Chinese to work in an international city like Shanghai. If you search for a job or business opportunities though, then Shanghai represents one of the best options in China. Moreover, in this city you can find a very good nightlife, and enjoy the multicultural and young side of it. And if you miss the nature, you can still take a train during the weekend, and experience the “real” China, just a couple of hours away from this concrete jungle!

11. What was your dream job when you were younger?

Well, my major during University was Engineering. However, when I was younger, as a kid from Barcelona, I certainly wanted to become a Football player. Later on, architecture and design became my real passions, but I thought that this could have never broughtme success. That has changed a lot! I just wasn’t informed enough about these career path opportunities.

12. What do you do in your free time?

Not that much anymore. Since I have a partner here, I try to use my free time for us when I’m not working. I am a very hard-working person. If I like my job, I somehow see it as a free-time activity. Sometimes I still draw. For special occasions, such as Halloween for instance. I’ve been doing that since I was a young kid. I like to express my creativity.

13. Do you have any hidden skills?

I think I am good with numbers, and as I said, I can somehow draw. People usually tell me I am a very hard-working guy and I’ve got a good visual understanding. I guess I’m the kind of person who is good at several things, but not at something in particular. I see myself as a generalist.