In March 2016, Nick Winther Graversen moved to Shanghai to work as Business Development Manager at Greencarrier Freight Services. Four months later, he has created a strong personal network in China and gained an extensive knowledge about the local customers’ needs. In addition, he has learned how to get a hold of a taxi as well as order chicken and wine – in Chinese.
Nick, you work as Business Development Manager at Greencarrier Freight Services in Shanghai. Can you tell me about your background, leading up to where you are today?
I have participated in an academic course in Supply Chain Management and I have an Academy Profession degree in International Marketing Management. In September 2013, after I got my degree, I started working at Greencarrier Freight Services in Denmark. I worked at our Danish office for two and a half years, in both operation and in sales. One day, my Manager offered me a job in our office in Shanghai. And of course – I couldn’t say no! The 1st of September 2016, I have worked at Greencarrier for exactly 3 years. My main responsibility as Business Development Manager is to develop all of our home markets, but I have the responsibility for the Danish tradelane.
When you got the offer to start working in Shanghai – what made you say yes?
I have always wanted to work outside Denmark and to see the world. I love to challenge myself, and when I got this opportunity I was not able to say no. Just the idea of living in a country that has been through a riveting change during the last 30 years. That was something I wanted to experience and learn from. Therefore, when I got this opportunity I just grabbed it!
Surely, you will not regret that decision. What would you say are the main differences on the markets if you compare China with Denmark?
The biggest difference, except for the culture and the language of course, must be that people here in China are often specialised in one specific area. In Denmark, most people have a lot of different tasks within different areas, that don’t necessarily fit into their expertise. Another difference is that the Danish customers normally negotiate for long-term contracts, compared to the Chinese market that is a bit more short-termed. In China, it is common that a customer requires separate negotiations for each shipment. In addition, the social characteristics differ between the countries. The Danish people are often more reserved until they get to know each other better, compared to the Chinese people. If you want to have a meeting with a new customer in Denmark, you often have to book the meeting several months in advance. However, in Shanghai, the people are open and willing to listen and chat in a completely different way. This means it often doesn’t take more than a week to meet with a new customer in Shanghai.
Why do you think you are suitable for the role as Business Development Manager?
I am good at seeing the overall picture and acknowledging the benefits for not only my own department, but for the whole organisation. Due to my education and experience, I have a good knowledge about the problems and struggles our customers are facing. I always try to put myself in their position, which helps me find the best possible solution for them. I have good knowledge about the Danish and Chinese markets, and I always see opportunities to build relationships and extend our networks. I want everyone to know our name in Shanghai. Also, I love to work and I always stay positive, which are good qualities to have in my role.
My main asset is that I can see the transport process from two different perspectives since I have been working both operationally and in sales. Therefore, I have great knowledge about our customers’ needs during the entire supply chain. Our customers should not only choose us based on our price but also based on the solutions we provide.
What do you think is important to communicate to the customers?
I think it is more important how you communicate with the customers. Trust is a large part of our business, therefore we need to be trustworthy in everything we do. We need to have a wide knowledge about our customers and their operations, and it should be easy to contact us at all times. At the moment, our well-developed train setup to and from Europe is a great thing to focus on. That is an excellent solution to choose for our customers in our home markets. We have great support from our customers and the traffic is increasing. Here in China, the demand for our warehouses and pick and pack solution is increasing a lot and is therefore given a lot of focus at the moment. We are also working a lot with new logistic setups for the food and beverage industry. We can see that these commodities are growing, which makes them very exciting to work with.
What are the most interesting and fun parts of your job?
Compared to my job in Denmark, the most interesting part of my new job must be that I am now working with all the Greencarrier offices on a daily basis. Now, I have a much bigger overview and knowledge about our capacity and strength in the transportation business. I am in constant contact with different countries and I learn more each day about the challenges in China. I really appreciate that no day is the same. You must always be on your toes and do the best you can. Every decision that you make counts, and you can see the results of your work – both in a short- and long-term perspective. When we start a collaboration with a new customer, or every time your clients recommend you to their friends or business partners, you know your hard work has really paid off. That is the best part of my job!
Are there any specific trends in China, within your line of business?
China is about to change from a production country to a consumer country. It has been a great development within the past 30 years with an increasing living standard, mainly in the big cities. The minimum salaries have increased, raising the living standards. This makes it more expensive to produce here in China. In addition, the middle class is growing due to better work conditions. A lot of that extra money will be spent on goods from outside the country. Therefore, we expect a lot more import to China in the upcoming years.
Interesting! So, what do you do when you are not working?
When I am not working, I enjoy life in Shanghai together with my girlfriend. We have a great social life, everyone is very open-minded and welcoming. It is an amazing city to live in – I never get bored! Greencarrier Shanghai is a member of the Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish chambers of commerce, and I am a personal member of the Danish chamber of commerce. I am also a board member of the Danish Young professionals in Shanghai. I am attending many of their events to extend my network as well as create awareness about Greencarriers’ presence here in Shanghai. I am currently studying an online part-time Bachelor of Arts in International Business. I am a member of Shanghai Vikings, which is a Danish football team, consisting of many different nationalities. I have also attended a biking trip with the purpose to collect money to build new schools in Nepal. I have informed the Greencarrier Spirit Fund about the event, hoping our company will support the purpose too.
How do you work to meet Greencarrier’s promise to the market: Yes, it’s possible!
It is not about what I do to make it possible, but what we do to make it possible. It takes more than one person to reach our customers’ needs. We work as a team, not only at our office here in Shanghai but in all of China. We share gains and losses as well as information and ideas. By supporting and learning from each other we are able to take advantage of the big diversity we have in our Chinese team. That way, we provide what our customers need, and through knowledge sharing and teamwork we make it possible – no matter how big the task is.
Thank you for a nice chat, Nick! I wish you the best of luck with your continued business endeavors in Shanghai.
Hopefully, you learned something new about Greencarrier and our Chinese operations by reading this article. Feel free to visit our website for more information, and share your thoughts with us on our social media channels.
/The Blogging Crew