‘Work experience abroad can bring benefits to you, your company and your clients’
I love to travel. When I had the opportunity to travel to China on business for the company I was more than excited! I love chinese food! Sondrel, an ic design services company, has two design centres there, in Xi’an and in Shanghai. This would be an opportunity to meet colleagues that I had only ever skyped or emailed up to this point. And for me personally this has now made a huge difference when I work together with them, back at my desk in the UK.
I was curious to quiz two of my Chinese colleagues, 2 physical implementation engineers, who are currently working here in the UK. They have both come from Shanghai and are here for six months to work on project teams with engineers here. What do they think of the UK? Why become electronics engineers? I decided to find out.
Frank and Dan are the engineers in question. They both live and work in Shanghai. Frank studied at a university in Jiangsu Province, and excelled in physics at high school, moving on to electronics. Dan actually studied at the University of York in the UK. Her father is a lecturer in Electronics in China, and so she has grown up with this discipline as very much a part of family life. Frank is happy with his career choice of engineering. He believes that working to produce the high tech equipment that makes people’s lives easier is a worthwhile pursuit. Dan enjoys putting the theory that she has learnt into practice, and has always aspired to be an engineer. She also likes seeing a real product emerge out of the design work that she has done.
Dan was part of the winning team on an office day multi-activity day
These are Frank and Dan’s first impressions of the UK in their own words. And it made me smile. Beware the power of film and TV!...
Frank: This is my first time visiting the UK. It’s a little bit different from what I imagined, because I imagined the UK to look like the Sherlock TV series, lol! But Reading is also very nice place, I like the air and the blue sky here and there are much less people here than Shanghai, Great!
Dan: Yes, I have been to the UK before. Before I came here, I thought that cities in the UK may look similar to the places in the Harry Potter movies, castles everywhere, each building being hundreds of years old, and the people here all with royal nobility. However, after coming here, I find that the cities here are a combination of modern and classical, and the people here are very warm and friendly, and they all from different cultural backgrounds.
'I thought the cities in the UK may look similar to places in the Harry Potter movies,..' 'I imagined the UK to look like the Sherlock TV series'...
I also asked them what they thought the most noticeable differences were when it came to working in the UK compared to China. Dan saw very little difference when it came to her working environment, with good team leaders to help and guide her and a great team spirit in both offices with the emphasis on helping one another to reach their common goal – project success. Dan was impressed by the amount of activities we organise in the UK to bring people together. Franks answer was shorter – the main difference being that you have to prepare lunch in the UK! Talking of food, this is what they thought about British cuisine:
Dan: There are lots of delicious foreign food restaurants in Reading, like sushi, Italian pasta and Chinese food. And I like the UK's carrots very much, it is said that British carrots is a vegetable that contains the most vitamin A in the world!
Frank: Not Bad. I can eat British food, Italian food or Indian food here. If want to have some Chinese food, I can buy it in the supermarket.
When asked about how they thought the trip might benefit them as physical design engineers, they were both very much in agreement. There are a lot of experienced engineers working in the UK office, and they both felt that this experience of working with them has made them better engineers. Dan commented that the parameters of her understanding around her core skills as a physical implementation engineer have grown, as she has experienced working with other engineers that have, for example, Design for Test (DfT) skills.
Here’s a few more questions, and their answers:
Q: Biggest Benefits of coming to work in the UK
Frank: I practiced my English, which I have less chance to do in China.
Dan: Most my colleagues here are from different countries. After talking with them I can learn a lot about different cultures. For example, talking with Santh (an India girl), I now know what an India wedding looks like; talking with Khalid (a Morocco guy), I will never discriminate against Muslims, or misunderstand the relationship between Muslin and ISIS; after talking with UK local colleagues, I know even the new British generation are facing house price pressure.
Q: Biggest Challenges
Frank: Language and Food!
Dan: I think the biggest challenge is speaking professional English. My project manager has been very patient in listening to me explain my project status in our weekly meeting. And my team members also have been very patient to listen the issues I have encountered and to help give me some suggestions to solve the problem.
Q: What have you liked most about your time here?
Frank: I like pizza here, I have eaten tons of pizza. :)
Frank loved pizza so much, he took a picture for his album!
Dan: I have made a lot of friends here, and went to Gilly's (a work colleague) home once. This experience let me see what British peoples real life looks like; it's fantastic.
Have you travelled whilst you have been here to see other areas of the UK?
Frank: I travelled to Cambridge, York, the Lake District, Edinburgh and of course London. It was a nice trip.
Dan: I have been Oxford and Bicester Village. Bicester Village has lots of big brands at low prices. It seemed like a shopping paradise, especially for women!
And both seem keen to do more travelling in other parts of Europe. Dan is keen to the elegance of Paris, and Frank would like to explore France, Italy and Greece.
Some of Frank's holiday snaps from his trip around the UK
All in all, I think that for both of them, the trip has been very worthwhile – and not just for them, but for all of us here in the UK office too. At the Sondrel headquarters, Frank and Dan have also met colleagues that usually work in Morocco on this trip, and joined us for a football game with a colleague based in Italy. Meeting colleagues face to face, even for a short space of time can create a relationship that emails and skype messages can’t achieve. It brings us all together, as a team, regardless of what part of the world we normally work in. As we have grown as a company, travelling and working between our 5 main design centres has become increasingly important so that we stay connected, exchange ideas and communicate well with one another. And ultimately stick together as a team. It makes us function better within our project teams, and its great fun to connect with different countries and cultures around the world.
You can also download datasheets with a summary of the consultancy services that Sondrel provide to its international client base, and information about the offshore design centers where our engineering teams are based. Click on the icons below to access: