From Brazil, to China, and now The Netherlands, I’ve travelled around the world on a journey in Digital Marketing. Add in a dash of photography, a light sprinkling of digital consumer behaviour, topped off with digital projects and metrics, and you have me, Insight TV’s Digital Marketing Manager.
My journey begins five years ago in Brazil. I had completed my MBA and was professionally fluent in English. However, there was a distinct lack of recognition and appreciation for talents such as mine, and with the political situation becoming extremely volatile, I felt increasingly uncomfortable and decided to look at pastures new.
I started looking for vacancies as far away from Brazil as possible; markets with a desire and high demand for digital marketing professionals. Lo and behold, I came across a high demand for digital marketing professionals in … China! That’s right, 18,497km away, and a 23h 35m flight away from Brazil!
After nearly a year of interviews, I secured a position at a world renowned Chinese company. Finally, my international journey would begin, for after having received the offer, my wife and I had less than two months to prepare the necessary documents, pack up all my belongings and head to my new challenge in Hangzhou, China.
In all honesty, I thought I was ready and prepared for the move to China, for having visited Shanghai and Beijing as a tourist, I didn’t think there would be any major differences between those cities and my new destination. WRONG!
Hangzhou is a “countryside city” of approximately 9,018,000 inhabitants, and since it is more ‘rural’ than the megacities of Shanghai and Beijing, “complications” arise. From simply renting a home, to knowing how to get a new job become increasingly difficult. Of course, the company provided all the necessary support, but thanks to some archaic bureaucracy, emphasis was placed on helping the Chinese rather than the foreign expats.
The main cultural differences were a big shock for me: there are no queues, no “silence”, no “privacy”, no “empty” place, everything was always full and chaotic, and need I remind you that China is HUGE! With gigantic shopping malls on every corner, featuring gigantic proportions of everything imaginable, the scale was overwhelming. Finally, as with most ‘rural’ cities, very few people spoke English, which posed significant communication problems.
I spent two years in Hangzhou and learnt a lot from the crazy Chinese work environment, including the famous phrase “加油” or simply, “add oil” which is a Chinese expression of encouragement. Rather tellingly, a lot of encouragement would be required to work the infamously long hours which were based on 9-9-6 thinking (9 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week), 7 days of vacation per year, and daily meetings of 3 hours or more. Alongside the inflexibility and long hours, were the extreme KPI’s that most of the time, didn’t prioritise “user first”. A lot of oil would need to be added to survive.
China is an extremely competitive professional environment where companies do not measure financial efforts to win the competitive race. The charges are gigantic and hierarchy is prevalent within corporations.
However, having said all that, there are quite a few things I miss about life in China. It is awash with cashless technology, and you can go anywhere with just your phone! Order a taxi, get a bus, buy and pay for anything and everything with your phone, as mobile payments were linked directly to your bank account.
After 2 years of living the crazy Asian dream, we decided that we were ready for a definitive change of air, and after a brief but intense search for new opportunities, I ended up being imported back to Amsterdam and, as the Hobbit would say, there and back again, I came back to the world of startups and entertainment.
Upon landing in Amsterdam and arriving at Insight TV, I discovered that it was a hugely multicultural (and hugely positive!) working environment. At Insight TV, a whole smorgasbord of countries, including Finland, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Turkey, The UK, Poland, Morocco, Tanzania, South Africa, Sri Lanka and many others, blend together harmoniously to achieve common goals. For me, it was a gentle reminder that talents harnessed from around the world – as is the case at Insight TV – could truly come together under a shared purpose and achieve amazing success.
Whilst this isn’t my first startup experience, or my first taste of the entertainment industry, the key difference between Insight TV and all the rest is … STRATEGY! You’d be surprised at the amount of organisations in general, who haven’t mapped out exactly what they want to do, and how they want to achieve it. Here at Insight TV, the KPI’s and strategy are clear, so it’s simply a matter of time before everything is executed.
And here I am, after a year and a half and I cannot see myself anywhere else!