The place to be
Updated: 2013-05-17 09:47
By Todd Balazovic (China Daily)
In some cases, it is a matter of moving to China before launching a career.
For 31-year-old Eric Seidner, who traveled to Beijing in 2004 as part of an Asian tour, the opportunities for career development were what encouraged him to set up base in Beijing.
"I had planned on just being here for a year," he says. "Generally speaking, (China experience) is a plus. It's becoming more and more of a factor, because of the spotlight on China when companies consider strategic decisions.
"Having someone who understands and has been here on the ground, understands the culture and has language capability, is a selling point."
Seidner began work as an English teacher when he first arrived, but soon began attending courses at CEIBS International in Shanghai, gaining his MBA and finding a position as a project leader and business development manager for Southeast Asia at management consultancy TMRC Impact.
"The career aspect of living in China has been a real plus. There seems to be a real buzz around China. Sometimes I understand it, sometimes I don't," he says.
"But because so many companies want to have a foothold over here, having China on your resume seems to be positive."
With many people assigned to foreign postings in China for two to five years, having had nine years experience in the country has given Seidner a competitive edge. "Knowing the market, the language and the culture has given me a big boost.
"For many people who have never traveled to China, it is almost like visiting the dark side of the moon."
This was exemplified when the US magazine Businessweek included Chinese cities like Suzhou, Tianjin, Kunming and Qingdao - all relatively modern Chinese cities - in its list of the "hardest hardship posts", putting them on par with cities like Lagos in Nigeria and Nairobi in Kenya.
The published list evoked an outcry from many of the more prolific expatriate bloggers, who called the inclusion of such cities on the list outrageous.
Still, such cities may not appeal to the older middle management and senior management level executives.
Quane describes these as employees, with 10 to 15 years experience who are sent to China because of the need for their expertise in the growing market.
These employees, he says, tend to have more special requirements.
While the normal things like language, cultural barriers and things like pollution are still considered when formulating an incentive offer, more senior staff often tend to be rooted back in their home country, with a family and children to look after.
"So if you offer an employee of this level a job in China, while it may be good for their career, they still have to consider their family unit," Quane says.
In cases where mid-level to senior-level staff are required to move their family and children, despite the pay bonus, the cultural aspects of China can have a huge impact.
This was the case for Theresa Adhieh, whose husband's job with Microsoft brought her and their two children to Beijing from the US two years ago. She says there have been vast adjustments that have had to be made.
"Educating the kids in China is much different than I ever imagined," she says.
With a 7-year-old and a 15-year-old to educate and only a small stipend from the company to pay for education, Adhieh has taken to home schooling her younger child - something she never envisaged having to do in the US.
With international schools costing more than $30,000 a year and local schools providing a different, less fostering style of education. She decided to teach her son.
Though it may be a new challenge, she says the benefits of being part of an expatriate family posted in Beijing outweigh the negatives.
"Every day is a challenge in one way or another. But it's much more colorful here; it's more multicultural. It's certainly not boring," she says.
"Life feels more adventurous here, and that's what we were looking for when we went overseas. I'm in no hurry to head home."
(China Daily 05/17/2013 page1)