Today we sat down with our Account Manager Cornelia Oswald to get to know her better.
- What do you do at Swedbrand? What are your main tasks?
As an Account Manager I take care of our clients’ needs and help them in every way possible in order to ensure a smooth delivery of the product. Furthermore I am also trying to find new partners and continue to develop our presence in the German-speaking market. Last but not least I am assisting with some operations work.
In our team everyone helps out whenever he or she can which is great because this way you get the chance to learn new things and you are not limited to a single task. I really like that my work is so versatile and that we are not only allowed but encouraged to personally develop in whatever direction we consider to be the best fit for us .
- You have joined the Swedbrand team 6 months ago. How has it been for you so far?
Even though it is always somewhat challenging to join a new company with its own culture and processes and to take over the work from someone else, I immediately felt welcome at Swedbrand and the whole team made my transition as smooth as possible. I love working here simply because solidarity and team spirit are not just empty words. On top of our everyday working tasks at the office, we strengthen the teambuilding spirit with activities such as taking Chinese cooking classes together, which is great J
It’s actually funny, when you think about it: as an Austrian I am living in Shanghai where I am working for a Swedish company and from over here I take care of our clients in Austria and Germany. Could it be any more international? We combine the best from all the different cultures here at Swedbrand – we even keep up the Swedish “Fika” tradition.
- You will soon be doing a business trip to Germany and Austria. What are you looking forward to?
So far I haven’t met most of my clients in person and it will be great to finally add some faces to the voices on the phone. I really like the interaction with people which is why I can’t wait to make all those new contacts and help them with their needs. It is wonderful when you see the successful outcome of a project and you know that you have helped to create additional value for the partner.
- How was the process of learning Chinese for you?
For me learning Chinese is a lifetime job and I would never dare to say that I am fluent in Chinese because that would be a lie. I took my first Chinese classes in Austria; during my time at university I had the chance to spend 1.5 years in Beijing to study Chinese. I love the language even though it is really tough to learn, especially when you also want to get a grasp on the characters in order to read and write in Chinese. Currently I do not need Chinese for my work but I continue to take Chinese classes in the evening and nothing could provide me with a better learning environment than living in China.
- You worked for an Austrian chocolate company before joining Swedbrand, and helped them to implement themselves in China. What were some of the challenges faced?
Entering a new market is always a big challenge for a company and this was a huge undertaking. Even though China is such a large country and Shanghai alone has a population 3 times the size of Austria’s, just being present on the market does not guarantee that Chinese citizens will buy your product. You have to understand the people, their likes and dislikes as well as their buying behavior, are quite different from what we are used to in Austria. For instance, the Chinese are not used as much to chocolates as we are in the West. In Europe we have this long-lasting “chocolate culture”, whereas in China the first chocolates have been introduced to the market only a few decades ago.
This posed as an opportunity just as much as a challenge and I am glad that I had the chance to be part of such a project because the experiences I have made and the things I have learnt are priceless. And I got to eat lots of chocolate as well ;-)
- Last November, you ran the Shanghai marathon. How was that experience and how did you train?
Since I had been eating so much chocolate before, I also started to extend my daily running routes, which ultimately lead to my first participation in a marathon in Austria about 2 years ago. I have always loved to do sports and I have been running regularly for the last 15 years. Back home in Austria I used to go running on almost a daily basis and naturally I wanted to keep up that exercise here in China as well. Unfortunately on certain days the pollution does not allow you to do too much sport outdoors and that can be frustrating sometimes. Nonetheless I managed to prepare well enough to finish the Shanghai Marathon in less than 4 hours. It would be awesome to participate in the Beijing Great Wall Run at some point but that is another challenge...