After a weekend filled with tourist activities and fun events, we started our assignments on Monday. The first week of work of work was challenging, exciting, and exhausting! It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be thrown headfirst into the business environment of a new culture, but I’ll try my best 🙂
On Monday, we had our kick-off meeting with the overall IBM team and all of our clients. From here, we broke off into our subteams to get to know our clients for the day. Our client is WisU, a small incubator in Chengdu focused in the technology sector. They are looking for ways to improve their processes and scale up the number of start-ups they are able to help.
IBM CSC China 40 and our clients
My subteam with our client, WisU
Our client took us to a delicious lunch and then on a tour of one of our offices. I am constantly surprised at how sweet, kind, and grateful our client is. Even though we don’t speak the same language, it is amazing to me how much we are able to communicate through our gestures and actions. I am so excited to spend the next few weeks helping her organization!
Lunch with two of our clients and our translators
Our office is in the recently built Global Center. Measured by floor area, it is the largest building in the world! Definitely a change of scenery from working in my living room every day.
The Global Center contains offices, a shopping mall, an indoor wave pool, ice skating rink, and a million other things
Tuesday was our first full day of work, which started with the subway. While the subway system in Chengdu is very clean, efficient, and easy to understand, the number of people that will squeeze into each train is INSANE. I have never experienced anything quite like it. If you are the least bit claustrophobic, definitely avoid riding the subway in China.
Even though each train looks completely full, more and more people continue to force their way on. This is after I was separated from half of my team (I made it on, but they didn’t)
Our team has 2 translators (college students from Chengdu) and they are wonderful. Our project obviously could not survive without them. On a personal level, we also could not survive without them. One thing that has really surprised me about China is how hard they make it for foreigners to spend money! China relies heavily on an app called WeChat (thanks to those of you who have downloaded it to communicate with me 🙂 ). This app functions as way more than a communication tool. People use this to pay for everything – restaurants, taxis, street vendors, you name it. A lot of places will not accept cash or credit card at all – only WeChat payments. The problem is that you have to have a Chinese bank account to pay with WeChat. Our translators have to pay for our lunch every day and then we pay them back with cash.
Without my translators, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy yummy lunches like these dumplings.
On Wednesday, our client took us to an Innovation Competition at one of the universities in Chengdu. It was really cool to learn about some of the amazing projects and companies these college students are working on. Our client was a judge and we were treated as guests of honor. We were seated in the front row and introduced to the audience. I kind of felt like a celebrity…
After they announced the winners, they wanted to make sure the IBMers were front and center in the picture
One of the highlights of this week was a Design Thinking session we conducted with our clients this afternoon. We were a little nervous about how well the instructions would translate, but I think we got great insights. Our client stayed afterwards to meet for 3 hours (yikes!) about the results, so I’m sure next week will be interesting!
Thanks to our translators for translating so many sticky notes!
I think I need to start blogging more often because there are so many other things that happened this week that I want to share, but it’s too much to write at once. I’ll try to be better next week, maybe the jet lag will be gone by then!
Celebrating the end of a challenging week with some margaritas