Finish school. Check.
Sell your car. Pack your stuff and say goodbye to friends and family. Why?
To move overseas of course, start a new life and a new job with a manufacturing plant in China.
A career in international business is appealing for many reasons, and one of them is the chance to travel, live and work in new places. But what’s it really like?
We wanted to find out, so we asked a top executive of a multinational manufacturing organization, Jared Haw, President of EPower Corporation. EPower Corp is an American owned contract manufacturer with facilities in China that specialize in customized manufacturing and complex manufacturing projects for companies that are launching innovative products in their industry.
What’s the most challenging part of working overseas?
Jared: What’s most challenging with working overseas is adapting to a different culture. Living in a different country, you realize people conduct their business differently and live a different lifestyle than what we are used to in the West. Certain things in another country may seem confusing, or even problematic, but will be normal where they live.
I realized I am a visitor in their country, and needed to accept their culture and lifestyle. It doesn’t mean I needed to adapt to their lifestyle and mindset, but at least acknowledge it and have an understanding of it. This took a long time and a lot of patience.
What’s a typical day like at your plant?
Jared: This industry is fascinating because there is really no average day. We work on many different types of projects in a wide range of industries.
A typical day revolves around finding solutions for our client’s manufacturing problems.
When I arrive in the factory, I know exactly how to tackle the day, so I meet with my staff to discuss our goals. In the morning, I’ll check emails, call clients, and prioritize projects and my day.
Throughout the day, a number of things can come up due to design, quality, and other issues. We put out those fires and learn from mistakes to create consistency and ensure a smooth end-to-end process.
At the end of the day, I have another meeting to discuss our results with my team. I wrap up the day with evening calls with our clients to provide the updates on their projects.
How many people do you work with?
Jared: We employee 150 people. I work closely with 7 key personnel.
What’s it like working in a country where you are a foreigner?
Jared: You have good and bad days. On bad days, you want to get away and travel to somewhere more culturally familiar, like Hong Kong.
You want good days to last forever, but understand they are short. It’s humbling to know that these experiences teach you about diversity and how to work with different cultures. When you start to see someone else’s viewpoint, you can begin to grow as an individual.
What kind of professionals are working in your plant?
Jared: We work with professionals who have a specialty in specific skillsets.
We hire mechanical engineers with a specialty in plastics and metals. We have electrical engineers, qualified engineers, and production engineers. We also employ sourcing engineers who can provide an extensive network of pre-approved factories. We have project managers who act as the primary point of contact for our clients who deal with the engineers, supply chain, production, and quality teams.
How does someone get a job in a plant like yours? What advice would you give someone who wants to have international job experience?
Jared: My advice would be to specialize in something that makes you unique. It’s impossible to have knowledge about everything, so we hire people who are smarter than us in a specific area, production line, etc.
Also, don’t be intimated about living abroad for a bit. You should take it as a challenge and an adventure. You need to expand your horizons and to grow out of your comfort zone. Pushing new limits is the only way one can grow out of their comfort zone, to exponentially improve yourself.
What kind of challenges do you face? Time zones, languages, cultural differences? Foreign government regulations? Differences in standard business procedures?
Jared: All of these are key. However, with a corporation, you need to be open about time zone differences. Some days I’ll stay up late for conference calls and carry out a regular day the following day. Though managing time differences may be draining at times, it’s essential to be considerate to your customers and to carry proper business etiquette. This is the best way to establish trust.