Ling Ye - Belgium
As Azelis continues to grow, new opportunities appear in the various parts of the world where we are present and thriving. Offering these opportunities to our employees and a chance to discover new worlds, progress and personal development, is at the heart of our talent mobility program. Our next story brings us to China. Ling ye, a local controller from China, spent six months in Belgium to work as a corporate controller.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Kaylee, 36 years old and I worked as a corporate controller in Azelis Antwerp for six months. I hold an MBA from the University of Liverpool and in my spare time, I love traveling and hiking in foreign countries. My actual nationality is Chinese, and I live with my family in Shanghai, China.
What has been your life’s path that led you to where you are now?
Before joining Azelis I worked in the accounting department for several multinationals in Shanghai. I joined Azelis China in 2012 and have worked as a local controller ever since. First for Azelis China and later for Azelis Asia Pacific.
You temporarily moved from China to Belgium. What were the biggest changes for you, professionally and culturally?
There was, of course, the language barrier that was a big challenge. Although almost everyone at Azelis in Berchem speaks English fluently, the language they feel most comfortable with is Dutch which I could not speak nor understand. Luckily, the way people work in Berchem is more or less the same as in China. There is one big difference though: it was much quieter in the Antwerp office than it is in our Chinese office in Shanghai.
A real cultural difference was the fact that all shops close very early during the week and they’re all closed on Sundays. During the first weeks after my arrival, I really needed to plan my grocery shopping. I did like the fact that the air and water in Antwerp are much cleaner than in China. And it took me just 15 minutes to reach the office by bike, which is unthinkable in a city like Shanghai!
How do you feel now after doing this role for six months?
Those months were quite challenging for me because I discovered something new every day. I had responsibilities that I didn’t have before and that was very exciting. I particularly refer to complex reports and decks that are presented within a rather short period of time to our senior management and ultimately to our shareholders. Moreover, in the past, I used to deal with the regional Asia Pacific management only whereas in my role as a group controller in Antwerp, I was involved with all three regions of Azelis. Finally, I was leading the group budget process as a process owner, a task usually executed by the regional Asia Pacific CFO. What really helped is that my new colleagues proved to be very helpful, patient and kind to me. I would like to thank them all for that.
Now that you were given the opportunity for this new role in your professional career, what are your thoughts on the Azelis Talent mobility program?
From a professional perspective, the Azelis talent mobility program was excellent in providing me an opportunity to work with new colleagues in Europe and to look at my job in China from a different perspective. The experience gained in Europe will definitely help us to improve the Asia Pacific shared services center. From a business controlling side, I’m also taking the experience from Antwerp back to Shanghai with me to see how we can still improve things in Asia Pacific. As also mentioned above, I didn’t have experience as a corporate controller before. Being a corporate controller means that I reported directly to corporate senior management. That often means higher degrees of responsibility. In general, those six months provided me with plenty of opportunities to develop new skills in a completely new environment.
From a personal perspective, I tried soaking up the Belgian culture in cities like Bruges which is very beautiful. I also visited some cultural markets and local festivals. It gave me a good chance to spot the many differences with my own culture and I’m very glad I was given this opportunity. I’m grateful that my colleagues in the Berchem office were very patient with me. Last but not least, many thanks go to Carlo Ravera, the Azelis Asia Pacific CFO, and my colleagues in the Shanghai office for their support during my absence.