Victor Nielsen Strand works as a Business Development Manager at Greencarrier Freight Services Ningbo office in China. Besides enjoying the beautiful scenery in the outskirts of the city from his bike, he loves meeting customers and is a believer that a positive mindset and a will to find a way, often gets the job done!
Hi, Victor! Tell me about yourself and what you did before you started working at Greencarrier Freight Services?
I am 27 years young and from a small town called Sarpsborg in Norway. I have three younger brothers and my parents in Norway – whom I miss a lot. In 2008, I moved to Oslo where I started my higher education. Oslo is a great place to live, but when I got the opportunity to move to Shanghai for one year to study, I simply couldn’t resist! I came to Greencarrier Freight Services almost directly from school in England. I finished my five-year education at Leeds Metropolitan University in 2014 and started looking for jobs in China. I was recommended to Heather Yang in Shanghai by one of our most loyal customers in Norway, and I am very proud that she chose me for our team in Ningbo. I started working for Greencarrier in March 2015, so I am celebrating two years anniversary this month!
Happy anniversary! So what is the main difference between working at the Ningbo office and working in Norway?
Besides from the slightly longer work hours in China, I would say the environment is pretty much the same. I would argue that a Chinese office is more noisy and hectic than a Norwegian office with documents and shipments flying across the desks! Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way! We also don’t have as much holiday as we arere used to in Norway – but who needs time off when you are living in China?
Fair enough! How does the Chinese market differ from the Norwegian market and what do you find the most challenging?
I would say that the market is extremely price driven in China. It is not uncommon for the shippers to collect spot quotes for every single shipment, switching between freight forwarders if there is a 25 USD difference. This requires us to constantly benchmark our prices to make sure we are staying competitive. Language is, of course, another bottleneck factor. The general level of the English speaking population in Ningbo is poor, which can make it challenging for a 外国人(foreigner) like myself!
As to customer demand, I think your customers expect you to provide them with the best possible solution, regardless of where you are in the world. I would, however, say that the pace is much higher in China. We are expected to solve all kinds of problems within the hour, making it a slightly more hectic country to work in compared to Norway.
Do you see any trends or challenges in the Chinese freight market?
Yes, we have recently seen an introduction of joint ventures between carriers and vendors in China, allowing customers to book their transport directly on the seller’s website. Many in our business see this as a threat as freight forwarders might become obsolete. I believe that Greencarrier Freight Services is not only a booking agent but focuses on working closely with customers to plan, execute, and maintain their transport schedules. I welcome this challenge so that we can show the market that a close partnership with your freight forwarder can help you cut costs and make your supply chain leaner and more effective.
That makes sense. You work as a Business Development Manager. Describe your role and main area of expertise?
Yes, I work as a Business Development Manager, and I am currently the only one in Ningbo working directly with sales. However, I have fantastic colleagues who make it possible for me to approach customers with the confidence that Greencarrier can offer the best services possible. I also have the overall responsibility for my customers as an Account Manager. I meet with customers and potential clients, answer inquiries and develop quotations as well as assist our offices overseas with their customers and inquiries.
I try to maintain an overall view and act as the customers’ colleague – not just a supplier. It is important to me that our customers feel they can outsource their logistic department to us, making Greencarrier intricate to their daily operations. We are very lucky to have many customers but shouldn’t forget that everyone is equally important and deserves the same amount of attention. I think it is important to have an eye for detail and an analytical view. Your customers are trusting you with their valuable goods, and transport costs can be a determining factor whether their projects are financially successful or not. It is important that prices and services match the customers’ needs.
Humour and joy, involvement and commitment are Greencarrier’s core values. How do you implement them into your day-to-day work life?
I would argue that every employee in our Ningbo office is intricate to the daily operation. It is truly a team effort where everyone is involved from beginning to end. I believe Greencarrier treats their employees with respect and is rewarded by having committed personnel looking out for the company’s best interests. We also try to arrange various outings and events to make sure it is not all work. We have a daily workout routine at four o’clock, which usually leads to a lot of humour!
That sounds like fun! Do you spend time with your colleagues also outside of the office?
Yes, we have a very good office environment, and I would say we are all friends. We have arranged several trips and after-work events in the previous years. We have also participated in several charitable events, which I believe has brought us closer together. It is a great feeling working in an office where most of the employees have been with us since the day our Ningbo branch opened!
What else do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
With containers being my greatest passion, of course, I’m also fairly interested in cycling. I try to go cycling every weekend and Ningbo is a great place for it. You don’t have to ride for long before you reach the city’s outskirts, with lots of beautiful scenery. I also like running, meeting friends for dinner and socialising in the city.
Biking around Ningbo sounds amazing. Back to business – what is the most challenging part of your job?
One aspect is to make sure you allocate an appropriate amount of time to all your customers, making sure that one doesn’t suffer because of the other. The most fun part of the job, however, is customer relations. I love meeting customers, whether it is in meetings or after work. It is a great feeling when a customer trusts your judgment and feels confident that you will provide them with a competitive and suitable solution.
How do you and your colleagues meet Greencarrier’s promise to the market “Yes, it’s possible!”?
Whenever we are out meeting with customers or potential clients, we bring with us a “Yes it’s possible” attitude. You should of course not promise your customer the moon, but a positive mindset and a will to find a way, often gets the job done.
I think you are absolutely right! Thank you, Victor, for a very nice chat!
- China in focus: Transport and logistics in the stone industry
- China in focus: Logistics and transport future trends (part 1)
- China in focus: Logistics and transport future trends (part 2)
- “I want everyone to know Greencarrier’s name in Shanghai”