“Those who think that the weather in Singapore is unpredictable should try a stint in Shanghai,” laughs Wong Liang Kit, Assistant GM of Business Development and Project Head with Keppel Land China.
“It can be a chilly 9°C one day and 19°C the next. One has to check the weather forecasts daily to decide what to wear to be comfortable.”
Adapting to Shanghai’s infamously unpredictable weather is far from the only challenge faced by Liang Kit, who oversees the business development for Keppel Land China’s operations in the city.
At the very start of his posting, he needed to familiarise himself with Chinese cultural dynamics to win the trust and confidence of his business counterparts.
Liang Kit is responsible for Keppel Land China’s project, The Springdale, as well as the Company’s land plot in Sheshan, and he deems it important to make an effort to network with local Chinese businessmen on a daily basis to cultivate relations and to scout for new business opportunities for the Company.
He shared, “As we are of the same Chinese race, the locals sometimes automatically assume that I am familiar with the non-verbal cues or inferred meanings of certain phrases expressed during business discussions. On the contrary, picking up such subtle nuances certainly requires a fair amount of experience.
“Two popular sayings that I’ve picked up at the negotiation table are ‘领导说了算’, which translates to ‘what the leader has said will count’ and ‘领导说说而已’, which means ‘the leader is just saying it but does not mean it’.
“Being able to discern between the two is crucial when doing business in China.”
Despite the steep learning curve, with the strong support of family and friends, Liang Kit finds theexperience extremely rewarding.
He lives in the outskirts of the city with his wife and two daughters as he prefers the lush greenery in the neighbourhood as compared to the metropolitan city life.
When asked if he would like to stay in Shanghai after his current posting, he shared, “I count myself to be very fortunate to have made many close friends here over the years and I dare say my Singaporean colleagues and I are adapting well to life in China. I am certainly open to the option of extending my stay here.”