Monday, April 27, 2009

Job at China Windey

It has been awhile since I wrote about my working situation here in China. For a long time, that was because there wasn't anything to write about, but recently it was because I wanted to make sure things were stabilized a little before I called any false alarms about finding a job. Since I have had several potential job offers that never quite worked out, this time I wanted to make sure it was actually going to happen. That way I would minimize the chances of making myself look quite the fool. Most people reading this blog will probably think that all I've been doing in China is traveling, but actually for the past two months I have been gainfully employed. Fortunately, after a long search, I finally found a job I liked in the renewable energy industry. The company's name is China Windey and they develop, manufacture, sale, and maintain wind turbines. I first found the company at the Sustainable Economy Expo in Hangzhou and interviewed with them clear back in December. It just so happens that the company is located right here in Hangzhou, so I didn't even have to move to a new city. For the most part, Windey is a pretty young company, mainly because the industry was small until recently and not many people have experience in the area. The building we are in is pretty modern and is in the middle of a science and technology park. One floor above us is the company Alibaba's headquarters, so there are some relatively well known companies in the area.
West Lake International Plaza of Science and Technology The Office
Although I was kind of trying to get out of the Information Technology type of work, my position here is IT related. However, it's a good chance for me to get some experience in the renewable energy industry and I can learn a lot besides IT work during my time here. My role is mostly working with the communication system between the turbines in the field and handling some of the data that is measured. Some of the work is pretty similar to what I did at Deloitte, but it's kind of like I've been promoted two levels and have more responsibility.
Windey R&D Center
I am the first foreigner (i.e. non-Chinese) person to work here, so that has made it interesting at times. The first day I started working, a lot of my coworkers seemed a little surprised and nervous to have me around, but now everyone is used to me being here. Everyone in my department has been really friendly to me and mostly things have been good working here. However, the bad part of being the first foreigner is that their HR department didn't have any experience in obtaining the work visa and progress has been slow on that front. Visa issues seem to have constantly given me trouble since I first arrived in China.
Science and Technology Plaza
It's been pretty interesting working at a Chinese company and there are definitely some differences, but for the most part everything is good. One of the funny things is that after lunch it's ok for people to take a 30 minute nap at their desk, so almost everyone is asleep during that time. During that time, I normally just waste some time on the internet or check the NBA game scores. I'm afraid that if I fall asleep I'll be out for two hours and wake up in a daze, wondering where I'm at. For the most part, the type of work I do on a day to day basis working for a Chinese company isn't that different than what I'd do working an American one. However, the overall goals of the company and the way they do business is definitely different. I'm still trying to figure some of the ins and outs, but hopefully after a year here, I will have a better understanding. There have been a few funny things that have happened to me at work. One day they were making some kind of a video for the company and had a film crew here. The film crew say that I was drinking some green tea and were saying, "look at him, he's drinking tea instead of coffee!" like it was some kind of abnormality. I think of lot of Chinese people just assume that all foreigners prefer the same thing. When they were doing the filming, they were definitely trying to showcase the foreigner and wanted to show me in a couple clips. For one, I had to sit down and pretend I was in a meeting discussing some kind of wind turbine blueprint that I had no idea about, but I was willing to sell out my credibility to appear in a few seconds of corporate film. Another time, I had to do the HR training that is required for new hires here. Of course it was all in Chinese and they were having everyone introduce themselves. When I stood up and said I could speak a little Chinese (in Chinese), I saw a sea of smiles appear on everyone's faces and they started applauding my crude introduction. A lot of Chinese people are surprised when foreigners can speak much Chinese. It's kind of funny because they will always apologize that their English is not very good, when in reality I am in China so I should be apologizing to them that my Chinese is not very good. The main bad part about working in a Chinese company, though, is that sometimes in meetings I'll be either lost in translation or just lost when they are discussing things in Chinese. Mostly it doesn't bother me, but if I ever have something really critical I need to know from a meeting, it could be a problem. Besides that, there are only small problems like the fact that there are only squatter toilets in the office, instead of the western-style sit down toilet. Normally I avoid the squatter toilet like the plague, but now sometimes I have no choice. Another thing is that they only have hot water in the office. In China you can't drink the tap water, so they often have these big machines that make hot water. In some offices they'll also have a water cooler like we have in the US, but our office doesn't have that. It's a little bit annoying now that it's getting warmer, since I all I have to drink is refreshing and delicious boiling hot water.
China Windey Office
Despite all the delay, I'm excited to be working in China and in the industry I wanted. With all the bad economic news and layoffs I hear about going on in the US, I feel lucky to be in the situation I am in. Now, if I could only get the coveted work visa I have been waiting on for so long.


Alice said...

ooo - congratulations, wes! I just got back from my trip to Taiwan - it's strange being back in the US. Have you had any "wax apples" or guava in china? I don't know the chinese name for "wax apples" cause I only know the taiwanese name for it,but it's my favorite fruit. Anyways, hope things are well!