There is a new expat on the loose and I think he/she will be recognized soon. It’s interesting to see the diversity of China. While some places are still very agricultural, some have developed and have a well-represented middle class. Soccer moms and everything….
Although few in number, I’m seeing a growing group of foreigners who have been here for 8 years who are now taking hold professionally in China. These expats have worked the tedious jobs, the hard jobs, the awkward jobs, etc but now they have attained the skills & abilities to manage others to get these jobs done (and may even have the language ability to communicate with staff directly).
I spoke with a good friend just today that proves this theory. He has been in China for 6 years and Asia for 8. He has climbed the “corporate ladder” here and is now a Quality Director in an automotive company. The company is growing by leaps & bounds and his skills, expertise & perspective I can only imagine are irreplaceable within the organization. He’s worked hard to carve out his niche…
On the other hand, not long ago, I met some really nice guys who are living & working here in China. They were all in their mid 40s. By all means successful in their careers, so either for entrepreneurship or to do a specific task in a big company, they were asked to up-root their lives and move to China. Cool, because the whole reason is “the package” right. Kids international school paid for, house with (阿姨 – cook, clean the house), and a nice, comfortable lifestyle.
Their neighborhood looked like America. There were garage doors and swimming pools. They had central ac and all this overlooked a Chinese subdivision literally on the other side that probably rented for ~USD250 a month that had none of these amenities. The contrast in Suzhou and China in general is great.
But how do these guys survive? It has to be based on translators and their specific skill. They are sent from the multi-national to bring the attitude, culture & most of all the standard of quality to the atmosphere. But not necessarily expected to learn China.
Hard to do. How do you live and work within a culture that is so different if you don’t understand it? The idea is good but it’s an everyday battle getting to know people in your own culture, imagine the values being different.
I argue that these expats who have been on the ground for 8 years, spent time studying the culture and working hard have the potential to make more profit (in the long run) than the expat transitioned from the large company.
There are many opportunities on the ground here that you can’t see from a high level (internet, news, etc). You kinda have to be on the ground. And people that have done that for a while understand the pulse of the country.
How does it play out? I think in the near future, we are going to see increasing numbers of high-level executives in China that are 8 year veterans of this crazy place. Those who enjoy living here and are trying to understand the culture & planning to live here a long time, over the family up-rooting from the home country.
The experienced guy will be able to get more done on the ground.
But that is not to say there will be no room for the foreign expat w/ family. Especially if they have a specific skill like architecture or law. There is a lot of growth potential for the companies with long time investments in China (KFC, McDonalds, Century 21, etc). Therefore, there is potential for professionals to come and support these organizations.
Won’t be easy to find a job. There aren’t clear channels like monster.com or other employment/resume listing websites (and I’m not sure I’d want to post if it was possible…) So as always the best way is to know someone.
It’s ironic, cause it’s just a cycle. Everyone comes as a fish out of water and with time the water becomes more comfortable. With that comfort you meet people with opportunities. Isn’t easy but isn’t hard either. The country really is growing a lot. And growing unevenly but that’s another blog…
Cheers to those guys on the ground fighting the good fight!