Interview, Susan Johansson: from technical writer to manager in China

Susan Johansson from technical writer to unit manager in China
Susan Johansson at her first day at work as Unit Manager in Shanghai.

Susan Johansson has worked in Denmark, China, Sweden and is now back to China again. Her path at Sigma Technology started from Technical Writer to Project Manager and, from the 1st of September, Unit Manager for our Shanghai office. We got a chance to talk to Susan and ask about her career.

Susan, during your career you have lived and worked in 3 different countries and cultures. What have you learned from that?

I have learned to be more open-minded, brave, and to not assume things. There are a lot of social and cultural “rules” to learn about and adjust to when interacting with people from versatile backgrounds. I am always very curious to learn new things, and that has definitely been an asset. A tip for people who are considering moving to a new place: Don’t be afraid, there is so much to gain!

When did you decide to move for the first time and what position did you have then?

Back in 2008, I was working for an online marketing company in Copenhagen, Denmark. My boyfriend (now husband) was starting up a new business in Shanghai so I decided to quit my job and join him on his adventures. This was my first trip to Asia ever (I barely knew how to use chopsticks). I started looking for a new job in Shanghai and found a Swedish company that did technical writing. I kept bugging them until they hired me. In November 2008 I joined Sigma as a Technical Writer. After about 6 months I became PM for a new project.

Now you are back to Asia, sitting in the same office as you worked before. What has changed?

Before I was working together with hundreds of people in the client’s premises, while today I mainly work from the Sigma office where it’s just me and our new financial administrator, and it is very quiet.

What was the biggest difference that you have seen in Asia and Sweden?

That is a hard question, so many things are different. In China you will see people wearing pajamas on the street when they walk their dogs in the evening, cars driving on the sidewalk when the road is too crowded, and people almost fighting over who gets to offer the pregnant lady their seat on the metro, or about who gets to pay the bill at the restaurant. I guess the biggest difference is that it is so crowded here (about 24 million people in Shanghai) and so few people back home (about 320.000 people in Malmö).

What challenges are you going to work on now?

To begin with I will focus on getting to know the employees and learn more about their everyday life at work to see what is working and what is not. I want to learn more about where I can help to improve things and find some best practices to share with everyone. I will also dig into how to better collaborate across borders and across sites.

What is your dream?

One dream I have when it comes to my professional life is to have happy employees that feel proud of their own and their team’s work.

For more information, contact:

Nataly Duyko
PR&Communications Manager at Sigma Technology