There is just something eye opening about sitting in on a phone conference taking place between people from all around the world. Last week I was able to observe business and globalization in action.
The phone conference took place at 2pm, Hong Kong time. Time differences! They sure make doing business in a multinational corporation difficult. If you think trying to get 10 people to meet at once is difficult, try coordinating them from around the world.
At 1:55 I was sitting at my cubicle, counting down the minutes to the meeting. I didn’t have any stake in it at all, but something about it made me nervous. Should I call in yet? I picked up the phone and struggled with dialing 9 before making an outside call. My supervisor messaged me on our office chat program from his cubicle in the other room, “Did you call in yet?” I replied saying that I was being put on hold and that my screenshare was still loading. I knew I had put it off because of my irrational fear of phones.
But then I was in. There were people in the chatroom and phone conference from all over the Asia-Pacific region – Japan, Korea, Singapore, India, and even Australia. The agenda was to discuss a new process and the presentation was being led by the Tokyo headquarters.
You would think that a giant company like GE would have it together, right? Everything running smoothly, standard guidelines for each customer, a perfectly functioning global assembly line of sorts?
That is completely false. Working in a global company presents many challenges. In my time with GE Healthcare, I have learned that each country does everything its own way. Some countries are faster than others and some have stricter regulations. Global companies have to deal with it all. This makes overarching blanket decision making almost impossible, or at least financially undesirable. So some companies, like GE, give up their autonomy to regional offices. Think globally, act locally.
Within the context of the big project I am working on (which is almost ready for implementation, I might add) I am redesigning a workflow process that will first be applied to Chinese customers but then eventually rolled out to other countries after I complete my internship. However, each country has slightly different needs and the process will have to be changed a little for each implementation. Supplying the documentation for the rollout is going to be quite the challenge since I am singlehandedly creating workflow process within the program that no one else knows how to use yet. But we’ll see once I get there haha!
Another thing I want to add is how amazing it is to be around so many bilinguals in the office. I guess you could say I’m a bilingual myself, but I am in no way as fluent in any other language as English. At any moment my two coworkers could be having a conversation in Cantonese and then one will pick up the phone and start speaking English. Although Cantonese is the language of choice in the office, English is understood by most of the employees because there is a lot of cross-cultural communication going on. I’m sure Cantonese is most natural for them, so I wonder how surprising it is when I approach one of them with a question in English. Like, Who is this new Asian girl and why is she speaking English? Woah there, that is another topic for another day.
But overall, working in a multinational corporation like GE has its challenges. I’m not sure if I’d be able to do it for a career. Seeing some of my coworkers work under so much pressure is kind of a turnoff and I’ve been set on going the non-profit route in the future for some time now. I do like the work I am doing though. We’ll see how I feel in 5 weeks time.