Kim Karotki

Our inter­na­tio­nal trai­nee programme

Inter­view with sales trai­nee Micha­el Hwang

Micha­el Hwang, who comes from Tai­wan, has com­ple­ted our one-year inter­na­tio­nal trai­nee pro­gram­me. Now he is Sales Ana­lyst at our sub­si­dia­ry Klasmann-Deilmann Asia Paci­fic. In our inter­view he tal­ked about his impres­si­ons of the pro­gram­me, his expe­ri­en­ces abroad and his first beer.

What is the struc­tu­re of your trai­nee pro­gram­me ‑ which sites are you working at?

My trai­nee pro­gram­me at Klasmann-Deilmann Asia Paci­fic began in Sin­g­a­po­re for a peri­od of four mon­ths befo­re I came to the com­pa­ny head­quar­ters in Gees­te, Ger­ma­ny. After about three mon­ths, I moved on to Klasmann-Deilmann Bene­lux in the Nether­lands inclu­ding a short one-week trip to Fran­ce. I’m now back in Sin­g­a­po­re again.

What are your tasks wit­hin the trai­nee programme?

The main goal of my trai­nee pro­gram­me is to learn pro­ces­ses, use ERP pro­grams and find out more about the mar­kets and stra­te­gy of the Klasmann-Deilmann Group. My task is to make sug­ges­ti­ons for opti­mi­sing the busi­ness pro­ces­ses and the ERP sys­tem at Klasmann-Deilmann Asia Pacific.

Would you like to tell us a bit about your background?

I grew up in Hsin­chu, an indus­tri­al city in Tai­wan. I began my Bachelor’s degree in agri­cul­tu­ral eco­no­mics at Tai­peh Uni­ver­si­ty. But I also atten­ded cour­ses in hor­ti­cul­tu­re when I rea­li­sed that I was more sui­ted to the bio­lo­gi­cal and prac­ti­cal aspects of agri­cul­tu­re. In the end I obtai­ned a dou­ble degree. During the flo­ri­cul­tu­re cour­se, the lec­tu­rer told us about the high­ly advan­ced green­house tech­no­lo­gy in Den­mark and the Nether­lands. I was curious to find out more about cli­ma­te con­trol in green­houses, and so I app­lied to do a Master’s degree in agri­cul­tu­re at Copen­ha­gen University.

What expe­ri­ence do you have with living abroad?

My fami­ly moved around a lot when I was a child. I was born in Cali­for­nia but we left the USA again when I was four years old. My par­ents said that in tho­se days I could speak Eng­lish bet­ter than Man­da­rin. But I must have for­got­ten my Eng­lish com­ple­te­ly ‑ I had to relearn the lan­guage again right from the start. Befo­re I star­ted pri­ma­ry school in Tai­wan, my fami­ly lived in Thai­land for two years. My first expe­ri­ence of Euro­pe was on a school exchan­ge while I was at secon­da­ry school. This took me to a Bri­tish boar­ding school in Kent for two weeks when I was 16 years old.

During the third year of my degree cour­se, I took part in an exchan­ge pro­gram­me which brought me to the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty in Munich. Here I atten­ded cour­ses in pomic­ul­tu­re and plant phy­sio­lo­gy, and visi­ted rese­arch insti­tu­tes and fruit plan­ta­ti­ons in Bava­ria and Baden-Würt­tem­berg. In Tai­wan the­re is prac­ti­cal­ly no “beer cul­tu­re” among young peop­le, so that it was in Ger­ma­ny that I drank my first beer. It’s a shame actual­ly that I didn’t do a cour­se about the bre­we­ry I visi­ted while at the TUM. (laughs)

Which cul­tu­ral dif­fe­ren­ces have you noti­ced bet­ween Ger­ma­ny and Taiwan?

Moto­rists dri­ve very fast in Ger­ma­ny. It took me a while to get used to the speed on the roads. But the qua­li­ty of the roads is real­ly good. I’ve even cycled to work a few times. It’s much nicer to dri­ve the distance from Lin­gen by car of cour­se, par­ti­cu­lar­ly when it rains (laughs). Ano­t­her thing is that recy­cling is very advan­ced in Ger­ma­ny. The­re are no free plastic car­ri­ers in the shops and peop­le take their own reus­able shop­ping bags with them. Germany’s bot­t­le depo­sit sys­tem is also gre­at. I can remem­ber that we had a simi­lar sys­tem in Tai­wan, but they pha­sed it out again in about 2002. Sin­ce then, we was­te 200 bot­t­les each every year. We should learn from the Ger­man sys­tem and impro­ve our recy­cling rate.

Did anything spe­cial hap­pen during your trai­nee programme?

I accom­pa­nied a team of con­sul­tants to Sou­thwest Chi­na for an infor­ma­ti­on event with cus­to­mers and part­ners, whe­re they wan­ted me to inter­pret and trans­la­te. They all tal­ked in dialect all the time so I wasn’t at all sure whe­ther they could under­stand me. But then they star­ted to ask ques­ti­ons, which was reas­su­ring. It wasn’t that they couldn’t under­stand, but they wan­ted more information.

Would you recom­mend our inter­na­tio­nal trai­nee pro­gram­me to other young people?

It’s defi­ni­te­ly the right opti­on for anyo­ne who is inte­res­ted in the sub­stra­te branch. When I star­ted at Klasmann-Deilmann, the col­leagues’ pas­si­on for their pro­ducts could be seen in their eyes. An inter­na­tio­nal com­pa­ny like this also offers so many oppor­tu­nities. In Tai­wan, if you’re inte­res­ted in hor­ti­cul­tu­re, you’ll pro­bab­ly end up gro­wing vege­ta­bles some­whe­re in the coun­try. That’s all. But the inter­na­tio­nal aspect gene­ra­tes a who­le ran­ge of dif­fe­rent possibilities.

Click here to read the inter­view with trai­nee Shi­yu Gu.