Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beyond teaching IV: More reasons to employ a foreigner II

Eventually I had a job for Eversoft, a company specializing in security software. They had about twenty employees and a nice big office on the fifteenth floor of a building. They said they were closing deals with various big international companies but I didn’t have a clue…

The first day everyone squeezed into a meeting room to meet the new foreign employee. I was nervous of course – Even though I had already been in Taiwan for four years or so, this was my first time to work in a Taiwanese company where I was obliged to speak Chinese and do things on their terms.

My direct boss was Joe Hung, one of the partners of the company and vice president. I was the marketing manager meaning I was a one man department – unless of course you included the girl who could use photoshop.

Joe introduced me: “Hello, everyone. We have talked along time about making Eversoft into a top software company…Uh…international. For a long time we have searched for the right colleague with international experience. Last month, I was very lucky to meet an old friend who works in England. He introduced me to his friend Dan Chapman. My friend told me what a good man and professional worker Dan is. I interviewed Dan over the phone and he agreed to come and help our company,” said Joe. “He is going to help us with the HP account. You know the foreigner is more creative - Can bring new ways to break through our problems.”

Hmm, I thought, that was a good piece of bullshit. It seems we were going to pretend I had been sent from overseas. Still, I didn’t mind. It was not as if I had told the truth on my resume so I was happy to go along with the ruse.

There was a problem, however: Joe would ask me to introduce myself soon and I wasn’t sure if I was now supposed to speak Chinese or English. I wanted to practice my Chinese in this environment but I obviously couldn’t show too much.

“Ok,” said Joe. “I want Dan to say a few words. He worked in Shanghai for some time so he can speak some Chinese.”

It seems Joe had thought of everything.

I got up and spoke slowly in Chinese making sure I didn’t use too high level vocabulary, peppering my sentences with phrases like ‘I am not sure how to say this’ and occasional English words. I told them how I was humbled by this opportunity and I thought they could all teach me a lot.

I had no idea if it was well received or they all thought I was a complete liar because in Taiwan you just couldn’t tell from the standard blank expression.

At the end we went to Joe’s office.

“You know,” said Joe. “I told them that you are the expert from England so you will get their support. They will listen to you.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“Do not mention anything about your salary to the others. Your salary is high compared to them, and many people will jealous you.”

Sure, I replied. I knew my salary was high compared to the locals so I was happy to keep mum.

“We have a back-end security product that they were trying to sell to HP. This product has been rejected several times so we would like you to help. Get together a product review,” said Joe.

“Great. No problem. So when do I meet my colleagues,” I asked.

“You will be directly reporting to me,” said Joe. “Sorry. Excuse me, I have some phone calls to make.”

I went and sat on my seat, presumably Joe would call me back in later to discuss strategy.

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