Open your eyes, Kid.

6 days following my arrival in China it was finally time to start my summer job. At this point I had nearly conquered my jet lag and fear of Chinese food, however, I still had yet managed to conquer to the Shanghai public transportation system. This extended my supposed 15 minute commute to work into an hour, but nonetheless I was on time for my first day. My welcome to Fletcher building was warm and I was comforted by the use of both English and Chinese in the office. As I sat with the General Manager of the Shanghai office, my ears were battered by an overwhelming background crescendo of Chinese, Shanghainese (yes, they’re different) and English. The combination of excessive instruction and planning was truly chaotic. I took a deep breath following the meeting and accepted the fact that this internship was going to be a challenge unlike any challenge I’d ever faced. Using the password provided by the IT help desk, I logged into the computer and began my descent into the multilingual unknown. It was about time that I opened my eyes…

My boss, Phillip Kreutz, was a fellow Midwesterner and a long time Shanghai native. With fluent Chinese under his belt, Phillip smoothed the communication transition and managed to outline a comprehensive plan for the following 10 weeks. With Fletcher buildings sourcing office I would spend a week with each internal team for the first six weeks, then choose an individual project for the following four. Fletcher Building’s Shanghai Sourcing Office was its first true attempt to globalize and expand its operations and effectiveness with Low Cost Country (LCC) sourcing. Therefore, the office and its relative youth provided me a ton of responsibility for the coming 10 weeks. This excited me as I knew that my efforts would genuinely impact the business model.

Starting with the accounting team I was responsible for drafting a standard operating procedure for the team CPA. This SOP included day to day responsibilities, as well as high and low level operations explanations. Furthermore, on top of this SOP I also drafted the process for expense reporting. In addition to tasks I completed, I also learned a good deal about Chinese tax and accounting procedures. My knowledge of GAAP assisted my general understanding of the process, although the accounting practices in China differ in many way from the states due to government and corporate structure.

Within the accounting department, I also spent a week taking care of administrative practices. Once again, I drafted an SOP regarding proper administrative guidelines. This SOP included all administration practices ranging from visa and passport handling for international business meetings to straight forward daily health and safety standards. Furthermore, I began building a few financial models in excel to better organize and maintain transparency within the accounting department. I would later adapt several other models in order to assist

Following the first two weeks, it was time that I gave sourcing a go. This was undoubtedly the biggest challenge of the summer as the sourcing process often required both spoken and written Chinese. After a late night of developing a script and studying up on my sourcing vocabulary, I dove into the complicated world of LCC. The FBSO process starts with an online enquiry from one of Fletcher Building’s Business Units. From here the sourcing team will evaluate the enquiry and contact the various BU’s regarding the reception of their enquiry. From here the sourcing process truly begins as the Sourcing team begins its due diligence process to identify appropriate factories in mainland China. This process involves the initial contact of the supplier in which the supplier will be required to answer a variety of questions regarding the desired product, standard certifications, and testing records. If the product and its respective factory is then deemed to be appropriate for the BU’s requirements, the sourcing team will follow up with the timely provision of a quotation. Given the mutual approval of price point and detail, the sourcing team will then pass the respective supplier onto the quality team within the FBSO. In this process, I achieved all steps on my own and moved forward a few suppliers for several large FB projects requiring Flooring and Kitchen Bath Sink (KBS). The comprehensive process not only helped further develop my business Chinese literacy and ability but also increased my professional and networking skills. Overall this sourcing experience was truly rewarding and allowed me to grow tremendously.

Next up, I moved into the Quality department for a two week rotation. These two weeks enabled me to engage and edit the quality process through building Visio flow charts and comprehensive models and also physically participate in the quality assurance process. The flow charts included both high, medium, and low levels of the quality process and addressed the comprehensive process from the business unit, the FBSO, and the supplier. These processes ensure transparency and honesty in the process that prevent quality corruption while developing premiere professional relationships. The quality assurance process required that I travel to factories in both Ningbo and Wuxi to conduct physical audits of factory and product quality. In order to save time and simultaneously maintain acceptable confidence levels, we tested the products according to AQL sampling. From here, utilizing my technical skills, I formulated a scoring template encoded with the proper valuations. This not only scored the factories according to their respective performance in the categories we tested for, but also provided a high level summary and chart illustration as well as moving the factories into a permanent log for proper organization. Upon completing the evaluations and touching up on quality SOP and writing a few more policies for the office, my time with the quality team had expired.

In my final week with the internal departments, I switched between quality, sourcing, finance, administration, and management in order to polish and revitalize their internal processes. This was the point where I openly analyzed and suggested changes to the various departments. In this time I had the opportunity to sit down with each of the department heads and go over their processes and begin to make positive change in the business. This may have been my favorite part of the internship, because I truly made a large impact on the business and spoke with some very important members of the Fletcher Building Family. In this time I even was granted the opportunity to meet CEO, Mark Adamson.

The final four weeks of the internship were an open book assignment for me. Phillip cut the leash and said to attack my interests and desires and I did just that. I started with a list of around 4 or so projects that I wanted to implement, ranging from creating the first marketing presentation for the FBSO website to creating e-tutorials for the various excel models and SOP’s I had put in place. The videos turned out to be a challenge given the company IT policies that prevented me from downloading professional video editing applications, however, I managed to create some pretty sound and professional videos utilizing personal software on my own computer. Another struggle with this process was the speed and access of the Internet in China. All in all, I attacked and finished all of the main projects for the summer, and left Fletcher building feeling accomplished and knowledgeable.