Running on Diesel

A day of work at Bosch Corp. in Stuttgart requires German-language skills, good salesmanship, and three cups of coffee

Language skills led to my B-school career in Italy. Now, I'm managing projects at a German multinational and learning yet another language.

As a China native who could speak Italian, I decided to earn an MBA from SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy, because it offered a wide range of career options postgraduation.

Today, I am a project manager in the diesel division of Bosch Group, a multinational supplier of automotive and industrial technology, in Stuttgart, Germany. I am responsible for sales projects related to diesel engine products, such as fuel-injection systems and exhaust-gas devices, for three clients in Asia. Although Bosch is a big international company, the staff is surprisingly entrepreneurial. Our ambition and initiative makes for a busy schedule. Here's an outline of a typical day at work:

7:00 a.m. -- I'm already in my Alfa Romeo. Luckily, the office is only 20 minutes away. I leave the windows open to take in some fresh air and think about things.

7:30 a.m. -- With coffee and croissant in hand, I arrive at my desk. I quickly go through e-mails to look for information related to the teleconference later. In the meantime, I finish my breakfast.

8:00 a.m. -- Teleconference begins. Our weekly teleconference normally starts at 8 a.m. (German time) because of the seven- to eight-hour time difference between Asia and Germany. We open points from last week, consider new information from the client, and come up with approaches to pursuing projects internally. Catching enough attention and resources within the company is key to sales projects, which have to sell both externally and internally.

10:00 a.m. -- I again go through the notes from the teleconference, adjust my calendar, and answer e-mails. Then it is time for the second coffee of the day. I take 10 minutes off to practice German with my colleagues.

10:30 a.m. -- Back at the desk, I get on the phone to talk to colleagues in China. This phone meeting is a bit shorter because I have only one project there.

11:00 a.m. -- I prepare a report -- market and customer information, major facts about the project, technical details, analysis -- regarding our projects in Japan and China.

12:00 p.m. -- Going to the cafeteria. Some typical foods from southern Germany are on the menu, and I am curious to taste them.

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