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Zhao Yu, Divisional Controller of the Medical Gas Solutions Division at Atlas Copco
Zhao Yu joined Atlas Copco in 1994 in Wuxi, China. After various positions in China his career took him to the United States. A year ago he started his second expat assignment as Divisional Controller of the Medical Gas Solution Division in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Through the Atlas Copco internal job market, Zhao Yu had moved to five different assignments in four cities in his native China when the thoughts of a move abroad first started to grow.
“When a controller job in Rock Hill came up on the internal job market I applied and got the assignment,” Zhao explains on the phone from the UK where he is visiting a local Atlas Copco branch this week.
A mix-up involving trains has delayed the interview slightly. “It always takes some time to get used to a new system, and this is my first visit to the UK,” he says with a laugh.
Moving to the United States in 2011 was a big challenge and an exciting experience, both workwise and for his family.
“I think the children, 4 and 7 at the time, had the quickest adaption to our new life,” he says. “Our son loves American football and has become a great fan of the Panthers, the NFL team in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we live.”
Working life in the US was very different from the culture he was used to in China. After 17 years in a booming Chinese economy, working with a young and dynamic workforce using the latest technology, South Carolina was something completely different.
“Here people still use paper checks – I had not expected that,” he says. “Even if modern technology was at hand, there was a quite conservative reluctance to change in some areas. At the same time, it was great to work in an organization that was more flat and equal than the typical Chinese way.”
The fact that he recently renewed his assignment shows how much he enjoys getting to know and experience a new culture.
“I would encourage anyone to do the same, to grab the unique opportunity the internal job market offers,” Zhao says. “I waited until I could apply for a management position, but even those with less experience can try life abroad though the Atlas Copco job market by applying for a project assignment for a few months.”