Posted on 24/05/2018

Ronny (the guy in the baseball cap in the back row) celebrating with visiting students from Korea and some fellow IM students.

During my IM studies some of the most fun activities certainly were the gatherings with all international students taking place at their dormitory in Olten. I especially remember one remarkable night where the Koreans hosted the event, starting the evening off with delicious self- made Korean dishes and introducing to all of us their country’s flavours and tastes, all certainly well spicy. These evenings were always truly celebrated in an international spirit and as the picture shows well fuelled also with some drinks. Back in the day there, we had truly a good time together.

Graduated in 2008  

Ronny Rothen in 2018

Now  For just over a year I’ve been the Plant Manager at Shenyang for Boysen Exhaust Systems.  We manufacture exhaust systems and catalysators for German premium brand cars like Audi, Mercedes and BMW.  We have about 300 employees in our plant and produce more than 2000 complete systems per day in a just in sequence system aligned with the customers production line tact rates. Because we’re a German company operating in China, my work day neatly divides into two parts. In the mornings it’s about the plant, factory inspections, meeting with staff and ensuring that we deliver our parts on time, in quality and certainly on costs.  This is the biggest daily challenge working in the automotive industry. Quality and delivery requirements are immense, whereas margins are traditionally low therefore production and cost excellence continuously improved is the keystone to stay competitive.  Then after lunch, when the day starts at HQ, work continues on lots of new projects.  We have to build bridges between HQ and R&D and many various departments at the customers to ensure that all our ongoing product launches are completed successfully according tight set deadlines.  And there’s obviously always a lot of troubleshooting needed. I really enjoy solving all the issues systematically, as a team, and always improving and learning from our mistakes.  And I love all the international aspects- that gives me great satisfaction. It’s definitely a plus to be multilingual being able to discuss with Chinese, Germans, or native English speakers in their native language and so not losing too much communications efficiencies by cumbersome translation activities.

I married a Chinese woman I met in Shanghai 8 years ago during my first year of work here – meanwhile we have two children who go to the international school here.  We have learnt not to plan long-term: right now it’s very rewarding being in China and I am certain that my current skill set is of highest value in China, however the worlds keeps shifting swiftly and thus we are not certain where we will be 10 years from now.

After Graduation I was definitely looking for a job in China so I applied for the Alstom graduate programme in finance.  The two year-programme included 6 months in Switzerland, 6 months somewhere else and then 12 months somewhere else again – they promised I could do the year in China.  Originally, I worked in controlling and ended up being the China Internal Control Manager. After 5 years, I changed to a Swiss company, Adval Tech who are in the automotive industry. Originally again in Finance but after a few months there was a vacancy for a plant manager – they asked me and I accepted the challenge. I had a 6 month try-out and found I liked it so much, that this is what I did for the next 4 years. A few years ago, a head-hunter approached me with the offer from Boysen – my current position.

How did studying IM help? One main reason I joined the IM programme was because I could go abroad then and could go to China – it was a main driver. So studying in Hong Kong was a definite advantage. But also, we learnt to manage international projects, deal with the different time zones, different cultures and learnt how to adapt.  To think local and act global.

Want to get in touch with Ronny?  You’ll find him on our closed IM Alumni group (sub-group of FHNW Alumni) on LinkedIn

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