From London to Shanghai
Louise Radcliffe, Pricing Manager, shares her experience on relocating from London to our Shanghai office.
Tell us about your time in China with dunnhumby
After supporting the China business from the UK for one year, in October 2017 I headed to Shanghai for seven months to continue working on the finance/operations side of setting up the Joint Venture with CRV.
What were the biggest differences for you between London and Shanghai?
The biggest difference between London and Shanghai - apart from the culture, language and size of the city (it is the world's largest city) - is how advanced it is and the speed of China's technology. From the digital advertising on the metro rotating around you, being a cashless society to the many tech start-ups seeming to pop up daily, all blew me away!
I think it is something we can all learn from, China seemed about 10 years ahead of the UK to the point where my iPhone (which I thought was relatively new!) was looked at strangely by others many times on the metro!
What were your biggest learnings?
In seven months I learnt many things both professionally and personally.
Working in a market role taught me a lot professionally. I knew how dunnhumby worked from my head office roles, however, there was lots of learnings to setting up a business in China. In a market role, teams are smaller and especially in the China team, it felt like one big family. Your day's work could be very varied, some things you knew, some things you didn't and would need to try and figure it out. On any given day I could be working on the office move, recruitment plan, cash flow, balancing capex and opex spend, gathering fapiaos (Chinese receipts) for the tax authorities to looking at revenue opportunities.
Travelling solo to a new country, not being able to speak the languages (Shanghainese & Mandarin) and most Chinese people not speaking English was a personal challenge. I also learnt about China’s spiritual practices and cultural traditions which I really enjoyed discovering. I appreciate my relationships with my family and my life-long friends more than ever but also the simpler things in life like going for a walk, having a home cooked family dinner and laughing with a friend over a glass of wine!
All in all it was a great opportunity and I feel that having an international experience has truly developed my career.
What were your highlights?
Firstly, working with the China team, and secondly having the opportunity to experience such a fascinating culture that is very different to my own.
One thing that sticks out to me was when I walked to work some days (to burn off the Chinese dumplings!) and saw people of all ages doing Tai Chi, martial arts or dancing in the parks together.
What is something other dunnhumby offices might not know about working in China?
Outside of the office most people do not speak English so my five handwritten signs translated by one of the lovely team members Grace, helped me get around the city. The morning commute on the metro is also very unique!
What's one thing all visitors to Shanghai should do and see?
There are fantastic sites to visit like a walk along the famous Bund or a visit to the historic Chinese temples, however, I really enjoyed going to the Wuxi Mountains (about four hours on a bullet train at 300kph, very exciting!) travelling down the mountain by river on a Chinese boat and also exploring the Shanghai lane houses - tiny hidden streets around Tianzifang; this is where I bought my Chinese tea set that now has pride of place in my flat in London!
I am currently enjoying being back in the UK however I have a holiday planned in January 2019 to Sri Lanka and would love to visit Brunei where I was born. In terms of work travel I am always open to new and exciting opportunities however at present I am enjoying working in the Global Pricing Team; as long as I am doing interesting work, learning new things, working with fantastic people and able to add value I am happy!