Tero Ahonen, Country Manager, Greater China at Greencarrier Freight Services and Patrik Björk, Global Business Development Manager at Greencarrier Liner Agency, have both had exciting journeys within Greencarrier Group. In this blog article, we will learn about the opportunities they received and the experiences they have gained that help them create optimised transport solutions for customers globally.
Hi, Tero and Patrik! Start off by telling us how you ended up in your current positions at Greencarrier Group?
“My journey in Greencarrier Group started 2006 as an intern at Scandinavian Shipping & Logistics. First, I worked with customer service for the Höegh Autoliner Agency and from there I went on to Greenship, now named Greencarrier Liner Agency”, Tero Ahonen starts. “I was a part of the Equipment Control group, working with both equipment control and vessel operations. And finally heading the department! But new opportunities came up. So, I moved on to Greencarrier Freight Services and in 2011, I packed my bags and left for Shanghai. I started as Business Development Manager and a year later I took over the Sales Manager role. After four really interesting years in Shanghai, I moved to Sweden for an equivalent role. Three years passed until I was offered the position as Country Manager in China. And here I am”, Tero says.
“As for me, I started at the Export Department at Greencarrier Liner Agency in 2006. After working for about a year with shipping and logistics, I left to study for a couple of years. In 2011, I returned to the group, but this time to Greencarrier Freight Services”, Patrik Björk says. “The years up until now I have spent mostly in Hong Kong, China. My positions and tasks have varied from operations, finance and sales to heading our team in South China. In July this year an opportunity came up as Global Business Development Manager at Greencarrier Liner Agency and I took it”, Patrik continues with excitement in his voice.
Sounds intense! You must have learned a great deal during this time?
“Plenty of things!”, Tero starts. “By moving between different parts in the group and in the world I have gained much valuable knowledge. I have been fortunate to get to know and learn a great deal from my colleagues. Both about the forwarding business, sales and operations as well as how to interact and do business in different cultures, countries and regions. Also, during this whole experience, I have come to understand my own strengths and weaknesses better and how to work with them both”, Tero continues.
“I agree with that”, Patrik continues. “Experiencing different roles and countries has been truly rewarding. Moving and working abroad is one the best experiences of my life. I encourage everyone to do that, even if it is only for a short period of time, you will grow as a person! For me, it was also an eye-opener to switch between different positions at Greencarrier Freight Services and Greencarrier Liner Agency. It made me understand the different aspects of our business in a more profound way”, Patrik explains. “A useful lesson I learned is to always enter new business relationships as a blank sheet. Keep your experiences close at hand but leave assumptions behind, these will only make you narrow-minded”.
How have these experiences helped you improve your transport solutions to your customers?
“I would say that working with different people in different cultures has helped me understand people’s priorities”, says Patrik. “This makes it easier to build relationships with customers. Furthermore, the Greencarrier Group’s operations focus a lot on the Far East and therefore it is important to understand the differences and similarities of the western and eastern countries. Understanding this, we can help customers make the most efficient choices when planning their shipments”.
“For sure, all of my experiences have made me understand our customers better”, Tero agrees. “I know their challenges and needs and how to meet these in the best ways. Since I started living and working in China, I have gotten to know its business culture as well as learned about regulations and other organisational aspects. This is obviously valuable as it helps us see both sides when discussing a transport solution with a customer in, for example, Denmark, who wants to import goods from China”.
I get the feeling that curiosity is a trait of yours, am I right?
“Yes, I have always been open to new ideas and tend to take on the opportunities that I face, which I never regret”, Patrik explains and Tero continues, “Absolutely, I am a very curious person who wants to keep developing. When an opportunity to try a new role, culture and country presents itself, I am not the one to step away from it”.
What are the possibilities to develop within the Greencarrier Group?
“There are plenty of opportunities to develop within the company, I am an example of that”, Tero says with a smile. “Starting off as a trainee and now Country Manager for China, which is one of our most important countries within the group”.
“I feel the same, all employees within the group have great possibilities”, Patrik continues. “But it is up to each person to seek opportunities and dare to accept them. We have a strong and dedicated HR department that facilitates this and that has over the years supported many people that have changed positions within the group. Still, when we search for colleagues to be positioned in China, we unfortunately do not see many applicants from Europe. I strongly encourage people to seek opportunities like that. The culture will be different and you will be out of your comfort zone for a while. But it is worth it, you will gain new friends, colleagues and amazing experiences!”
Thank you for an inspirational chat, Patrik and Tero. And good luck with your future commitments! Do you want to get to know more of our colleagues? Visit Greencarrier Freight Services’ and Greencarrier Liner Agency’s Knowledge Centers. Also, read our blog article about Trine Lindgren at Greencarrier Freight Services who left Oslo for a new adventure in Ningbo, China.