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My name is Jianwei Lai or rather in Chinese 赖建伟(Lai Jianwei)

My name is Jianwei Lai or rather in Chinese 赖建伟(Lai Jianwei). I was born and raised in mainland China, in a „small“ city called Guiyang with around 3 million residents. I like to eat spicy food, and I’m not lactose intolerant,  just like about 10% of Chinese people. After graduating from high school, I came to Germany to pursue a university degree in Bremen. To me at the time, the German language was like how most of German feel about the Chinese language – totally foreign and full of hostile rules and exceptions. My curriculum was all in English too, and our campus was filled with international students and faculties, so I pretty much had to go out of my way to really learn German (well, besides a 2-hour-per-week grammar course). It wasn’t until I started my student job in a German company that I picked up the pace. Now I’m a project manager at SMS digital and responsible for multiple commercial projects and processes.

For me, diversity not only means where we come from, how we look, or even what gender we are. It also means the different cultures and mentalities that we possess, either knowingly or subconsciously. Having said that, I think good diversity management would excel at bringing the sparkling side of each other out into the big picture while maintaining a positive and constructive way forward when it comes to friction or even conflicts during this process. Based on an open mindset as a code of conduct, SMS digital sets a pretty good example in the relatively conservative metal industry, under contemporary values. Even though I don’t own a German passport, it does not stop me from working under the same roof, with the best colleagues, at essential topics, and in comparable conditions, just as anyone else would. Other than occasional imperceptions of certain German jokes from colloquially versatile colleagues, there’s little time when I have to say to myself: After all, you’re Chinese and therefore don’t come with German humor.

Cultural diversity might pose to be a challenge in teamwork at first sight, where people are yet to be acquainted with the differences among them. However, in the long run, the synergy that is born from constant integration of one another would much outweigh the ever declining efforts that are needed for this to happen. Eventually, what stands on the end of the formula, is ambidextrous professionalism capable of dealing with even more complicated challenges.

When I compare the Chinese work culture with the German, I believe that we can learn a lot from each other and complement each other. One of the most prominent features in modern Chinese work style is swiftness. Whether it is getting something done just as planned or adapting to changes that were not planned, people tend to speed up wherever they can so that deliverables are maximized within the same timeframe. In the German work style, the emphasis is largely placed on the preparation and quality of execution. The sedateness and complexity yield not only high-grade deliverables but also reputation that comes to play also in long term.

Finally, something that I would like to pass on to future colleagues: When you find yourself frustrated in challenging situations, just think of this: It took you oh so many years to be who, and where you are right now, there must be something right you were doing.