Company and position:
I work for a company that sells power tools called Milwaukee Tool. Specifically, I work for the Asia branch of the company and I am stationed in Hong Kong. I have been with the company since I graduated from USC in 2015. I am a Product Marketing Manager. Basically, I manage a few of our key product lines for all of the Asian countries where we operate. This entails launching new products in to the market, adapting products to fit local markets, implementing branding and commercial executions, and researching new opportunities.
Challenges in an international environment:
Since I work internationally, the biggest challenge is definitely language and cultural barriers. I travel to many Asian countries to study what processes our target users currently use to complete their jobs. More often than not, these users do not speak any English. Even when interacting with my own local teams in different countries, there are clear cultural differences. For instance, many Asian cultures will not outright tell you “no” when they do not want to do something. You have to be able to understand what they mean even when they will not say it. Overcoming these challenges can be difficult, but I find the best way is to just be patient and humble. I have to work to keep myself from getting frustrated, but I always try to maintain my composure and humbly ask for help whenever I need it. This also shows respect which is very important in Asian cultures. With patience and humility, you can almost always solve the language and cultural barriers you face.
I think the biggest thing for me getting this job was actually joining SOU! And I am not just saying that. I learned about this position because an SOU brother, Sasha Davisson, had graduated a year before me and had gotten this job. She then came to present the opportunity to our fraternity. I worked with her and landed myself an interview through her recommendation. The rest is history! Truthfully, the network/connections I made in SOU were a huge part of the opportunity I got. With great alumni like Sasha and other brothers that want to help, you can really have a lot of doors opened for you. In school, I majored in International Business and Marketing with a Japanese minor. Having such an internationally recognized program with Darla Moore absolutely helped me land an international marketing job. I also studied abroad in Japan which has certainly helped me with business in Asia.
Previous internship and job experience:
I had a different job every Summer in college, but I have two that really stuck out as instrumental in my career path. The first was a sales management position for a start up company that made an all-natural sweetener. That experience taught me how to grow a brand from nothing into a true business. I also learned valuable sales and presentation skills that I still use today. The second job was as an international franchising coordinator. An automotive company wanted to expand their operation to Japan, so they hired me to begin the process of finding a local Japanese business to partner with. That was my first experience working internationally and doing business in Asia.
Importance of studying abroad:
I studied abroad in Tokyo, Japan as a Junior at USC. That experience taught me how to live and work with people internationally. I truly do not think I could live and work in Hong Kong without having that previous experience. Being in a foreign country forces you to get used to being uncomfortable. It also forces you to learn how to solve problems and makes you become extremely adaptable. All of these skills are invaluable in the work force. My study abroad experience definitely prepared me well to handle my current international career.
I play in a couple of basketball leagues here in Hong Kong. I also love to read and I am almost always in to the latest Netflix show. Of course it almost goes without saying since I was in SOU, but I absolutely love travelling too!
Advice to brothers:
My advice is to put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. It’s very easy to avoid challenges and stay in your comfort zone, but I would encourage you to step outside of it whenever you can. I’ve been very lost in countries where I knew no one and could not speak the same language as any of the locals. Learning how to deal with these kinds of situations and learning how to problem-solve when you are not comfortable will force you to grow as a person. These skills then translate to almost any profession. My second and final piece of advice is to use your network. Family, friends, brothers, and anyone you can leverage to help you in your career. Without a brother in SOU, Sasha, I would not have my current job. Without a friend of my father’s, I would not have gotten an interview for one of my Summer Jobs. The people in your network are so valuable so please make sure you are leveraging those relationships. Do not ever be afraid to ask for help and definitely keep in contact with brothers and alumni of SOU.