Thursday, November 24, 2011

6000 Mile Job Interview


“You’re going to China?” This was the first thing my friends and family said to me when I told them I was visiting Star Prototype for an extended interview. They couldn’t understand why I would want to work for a company in a developing country as they put it.

Well, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Perhaps China is a developing country by Western standards but its developing fast!

I’m not a seasoned traveller, far from it in fact, the furthest I have been from my home town of Newcastle is to the Greek island of Zante. The prospect of flying thousands of miles, spending the better part of a day on an aircraft, was an exciting thought, yet having never travelled alone, a scary thought! The flight was uneventful and I landed safely in Hong Kong for my mad dash through the terminal to make my connecting ferry to Zhongshan. Having missed the ferry my excitement level was dialled up a notch as Gordon directed me on a high speed taxi ride through Hong Kong to the main ferry port to make the last connection.

The first thing I noticed in China was the climate, as it was November (or ‘Movember’ as top lips where beginning to bloom) it was starting to get cool, so I was told. Well, to me it was still as hot as the best a British summer has to offer, and mixed with my first ever case of jet lag, took some getting used to! The next big surprise for me was the food, REAL Chinese food, nothing close to your favourite local takeaway. Mammoth portions that just keep on coming, everything you can imagine, it was some of the nicest food I have ever eaten. Not being renowned for an adventurous palate there was a lot on offer that I turned down, “Chicken feet?” errm, no thanks! I’m sure that there have been many Chinese people who visit the UK and thought that some of our dishes are strange so I don’t feel bad about my lack of bravery!!

Zhongshan is a wonderful city that does an amazing job of balancing industry with large public parks, fantastic restaurants and a great nightlife! There is something for everyone here and Gordon couldn’t have picked a more perfect place for Star.

What I have seen has totally changed my view on how business is done in China. There are the ‘back street’ toolmakers, a small lock up with a couple of manual mills; these are dotted all over the city. Then there are small factories with 15-20 guys running machines. The further out of the city you venture, the larger the factories become. There are gigantic factories with over 200 people working in them making huge moulds, 6 feet high when stood on their side. I remember visiting one and being blown away by the sheer scale of the place and that was considered small to medium by Chinese standards!!

Gordon and his team at Star have put together an amazing manufacturing business in Zhongshan and offer a fully comprehensive range of services, where customer satisfaction is the number one priority. Star is a fantastic blend of technology, western quality systems and working practices, skill and dedication.

True to the company motto ‘The best of the West in China’ the QC department at Star would have many UK manufacturing business’s drooling at the level of technology on offer, this undoubtedly gives every customer the highest level of confidence especially those new to placing work in China. Technology is only as good as those who use it, and the staff are an amazing bunch, a very well educated and highly skilled workforce that is dedicated to the business and hungry to learn!

My time in China seemed to fly by, and I have to say a huge thank you to Gordon for giving me the opportunity and taking excellent care of me. Cheers Gordon!

Michael Hutchinson, CNC manager at STAR, who was kind enough to offer me his spare room for the duration of my stay, a fantastic host who kept me out of trouble. Cheers Mick!

And of course, thank you to all at Star who made me feel so welcome and despite their best English, putting up with my Geordie accent!!

I look forward to all the challenges working for Star puts my way and look forward to passing on my knowledge and that pride to the toolmakers at Star whenever I visit China.

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