The initial plan was a 4-months internship in PR & Events…Now, after 7.5 years with swissnex China, Isabel Götz is off to new adventures.
Before she joined our team in March 2010, she worked in various sectors such as hospitality, aviation, IT/internet project coordination, human resources and education, as well as PR and event management. As our Head of Operations her daily work was both very exigent and versatile, and given the broad background she became a bit of a “human interface”. So, after all these years in Shanghai, there are many stories to tell, and we asked her to share some thoughts on her experience in China.
Do you still remember your first day at swissnex China?
“I do! I was really excited to kick things off. Other interns have started the same day too, and I remember being impressed by that all red and white, and very Swiss design. Oh yes, and of course I never thought that I’d stay that long.”
What made you stay?
“All kinds of different things! For sure it was the dynamic and international environment, the appealing lifestyle and endless opportunities this vibrant mega city had (and still has) to offer. When I started, we had the Shanghai World Expo 2010, an amazing time which allowed me to dive in to work and organize unique events. The interest in China (from the Swiss side) has been on a rise ever since. I knew there must be more exciting projects in the future, so I guess I simply wanted to explore more of it. I was lucky enough that I was in a position which allowed me to seize the opportunity and to just go ahead!”
Can you name a couple of highlights?
“The first big event for me was the Future Cities Conference Week, then Design Prize Switzerland, the Red Container, the E+ framework program for the Einstein Exhibition that I got to help organize. We had the BBQ lectures, later swissnex China lectures, and over the years more and more visiting delegations…
I could go on, there are so many. All of them added to this unique experience, in one way or the other.”
After all these years, what still fascinates you about China, and Shanghai?
“The fact that some things you see, still blow you away! This incredible speed of how things happen – high rise buildings seem to be built overnight, or how fast technology simply becomes a part of your daily life and you can order literally everything online. Yes, what did we do before “wechat” again? (laughter)
It is this 24/7 access of life, which of course has positive and negative aspects (but it would take too long now to elaborate…). Places open and close on a daily basis, so even the street you life in can look different the next day, because a fruit store became a hair salon overnight!”
What are your main takeaways on culture and business in China?
“The pace China is giving itself to reach its targets and implement its goals made change becomes a constant factor. The market is highly demanding, due to increasing needs of a fast growing middle-class. If you do business here, you need a lot of patience, a high level of flexibility and the ability and will to adapt very quickly. But even more important - you must have 关系 Guānxì, which means you really need good relations/connections and you have to know the right people.”
From take-away to give-away – your wishes for swissnex China?
“First a big THANK YOU to all my colleagues and friends in the network and community. It’s been a great journey, and I will keep the memories dearly! To my team members (and here I like to also include the Consulate General), wish all the best for the future! 加油! Jiāyóu! Which means “let’s go”, so stay curious, and keep up the good spirit, enjoy next year’s 10th Anniversary of swissnex China, and continue to connect the dots!”
What is your next step?
“I will move back to Switzerland and enjoy an extended Christmas and New Year break, with family and friends. I’ll slow down a bit, after an incredible and intense time in China. I look very much forward to new adventures, even though I don’t know yet what 2018 will hold for me. But in any case, it will be very exciting, I am sure!”