Testimony: a self-reflection on a tech career in China

Who am I?

I have about 10 years of working experience in media monitoring and market research, and I have also spent the first three years working for an acoustic product manufacturer in Shanghai.

Stories from my career experience

After graduating from college in Beijing, I went back to Shanghai and went into the foreign trade business. My first job was with a public Taiwanese company manufacturing PC loudspeakers. The company enjoyed great success in the late 90s to early 2000s. Later, when PC speakers were no longer popular, the company moved on to produce car speakers though it was not as profitable as PC speakers. However, OEM started to face fierce competition, and the company invested much in R&D and engineering to create an original design to try and raise the bar. Unfortunately, after struggling for many years, Circuit City issued bankruptcy in 2008. As a result, the company closed its business.

LESSON: When the industry is becoming obsolete, it is subjected to failure no matter how hard you tried. Numerous external factors could easily destroy the internal efforts. It is beyond your control.

Then, a friend introduced me to work in a media monitoring company. Although the pay was much less than my previous job, I was happy to accept it due to the financial crisis, in addition to being interested in marketing and media. My new boss Phil and his friend had developed an online ad monitoring product prior to starting the company. Unfortunately, they stopped the partnership in the dot com collapse in 2001. Thereafter, they returned to the media monitoring business, but both men took their businesses in totally opposite directions. His friend, Weiqing Yang, believed in the internet and went on with online ad monitoring. In contrast, Phil stepped back to traditional media monitoring, focusing on media clippings from newspapers, magazines and the television. Three years later, with almost the same number of employees, Yang’s company iResearch was much bigger in revenue and media influence. Some years later, Phil remodeled his traditional media monitoring business into a marketing vertical site Meihua, and also developed a business communication app Mingdao.

LESSON: Vision is important. It is critical to make a smart decision and make a right choice before you actually do it.

Family genes: Curiosity and Self-motivation

Being alone at a young age and learning from family members are what enabled me to have the curiosity to take on different jobs in different industries, and move to another city after ten years of living and working in my hometown in Shanghai.  

My mother was a tough woman. Even in the worst years, after being laid-off with my father in the same year, she quickly found new jobs with shifts so she could make double income by working day and night. She never gave up. “Work hard!” “Prepare for the unexpected!” She would always repeat this. Though I was tired of listening to her constant refrains, I realized how deeply impacted I was by her motto and behavior when I was in my 30s.  

My uncle also had a deep influence in my life. Owning a furniture business, his business grew fast and he became a modern manufacturer with advanced machines, production lines, and over 600 skilled workers producing, packaging and shipping cabinets worldwide. With the export trade suppressed in 2008, he did not reduce production. Instead, he invested in more high tech machines and made his products more green. Despite facing immense pressure and having several friends and family members urging him not to take the risk, he continued to surge on. Two years later, while many other factories shut down and became bankrupt, his company was much better than before, with healthier, green, innovative and sustainable products.  

My uncle shared with me that one must feel real passion in life. Never be afraid of jumping out of your comfort zone, embrace the change and be adaptable to trends.

It is very important to set a goal. To me, it is not something big. I have seen many startup founders in the mobile internet industry. They are anxious everyday about not growing fast, about being undervalued, about raising money and feeling depressed.

What’s next

China has just entered a new phase with a booming middle class of 109 million by 2016, which is similar to the U.S. society in the near future. Statistics show that 10.1 percent of all U.S. workers were self-employed in 2015, and I believe this is already happening in China. Take the WeChat  platform for instance, there are 8 million WeChat public accounts, and most of them are privately owned. This is also called WE-media or Self-media.

As a marketing consultant, I will not only focus in doing business. I will also create my own blog or column to share my stories, ideas and point of views in a wide range of topics I am specialized or interested in. These include marketing, media, mobile apps, technology, lifestyle, and so on. As AllChinaTech’s new contributor, I will be sharing my observation and thoughts through my articles in the coming new year, and I would like to thank my university Professor, Mr Yang, for giving me the opportunity to write this self-reflection.  

(Photo from Pexels.com)

Billy Wei

Billy Wei is our columnist. She has rich experiences in both media and marketing industry, building projects related to consumer insight, digital marketing and business strategies in Nielsen and WPP. She co-founded a green kitchen brand for eco-friendly kitchen solutions before. She holds a BA in MIS and MBA at the National School of Development of Peking University.

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