Last year someone asked me if I would be open to moving to Shanghai in 2021. Instantly, my reply was “yes”. However, the reason behind this lies in my previous trip to Shanghai with Frankfurt School. In summer 2018, we had our international module at CEIBS and I fell in love forever with Shanghai. It goes without saying that the city is infinite in many aspects, such as entrepreneurial spirit, ambition, opportunities, chaos, order, glamour, simplicity, among others. Shanghai moves between and beyond its limits. It is not easy to put into words the dynamic and multitude of spirits of the city.
Since I came here 4 months ago, I have adjusted very quickly to the rhythms of this vibrant city. Life here is simple. The digitalization in China makes daily life so easy to handle that you just need a Chinese mobile phone to do everything smoothly (and of course, a Chinese bank account linked to its mobile number).
What fascinates me every day in Shanghai is the chaos in the streets provoked by the multitude of scooters, shared bikes, pedestrians, cars and so on. Every crossing in the city is a challenge that takes time to be mastered until the point you automatically adjust, and then the streets are safe for you. And that is exactly the trick. Chinese people do not wait, do not look you in the eyes or at their sides before crossing – they just go without hesitation. And they manage the traffic by going directly after the point they want to reach. This straightforward approach is displayed in all kinds of daily activities, either work-related or in their private lives. There is a massive sense of urgency in everything they do. It is just captivating to see how the current task should be finished fast enough to start the next one.
The international module at CEIBS from the part-time MBA programme at Frankfurt School broadened my horizon. It provided me with a brief insight into the Chinese business environment and the differences with the western management world. And this know-how came at the right point in my life. Exactly, at the point where I was looking for a global business perspective for my career.
The MBA programme including the Shanghai trip showed me how to navigate better the different mentalities of our European-established headquarters and the Greater China Region where local players in the chemical industry are constantly growing and getting better. Nowadays, my role here in China is to bridge the gaps between the two cultures. A fascinating task at different levels and with several challenges.
China is right now and will remain the key market for chemicals in the next decades and China will produce in 2030 around 50% of the global demand in chemical products (according to some estimates). The current approach to chemicals in China means that this industry is set for quick and continuous expansion and I am delighted to have the opportunity to be part of this development sitting in the front seat.
I am very grateful to have the opportunity in 2018 to visit China, thanks to the agreement between CEIBS and Frankfurt School. This experience opened my eyes to new perspectives and offered me a gateway in April 2021 for me to move from Duesseldorf to Shanghai. Now the real adventure in China begins. I will keep you posted.