Yutian Lei – from a Business Developer to a Product Manager and all here at GSG
Career change is often a scary move and a difficult decision to make. For some of our colleagues, it can happen within the GSG itself. Munich office’s very own dog mama Yutian will share her personal experience in this interview.
Would you introduce yourself and your role here at GSG?
My name is Yutian Lei, and I’ve been working at GSG for over two years now. I am originally from Shanghai, China, and I moved to Germany five years ago to do my master’s degree.
My initial role at GSG was as a business developer in the KAM team, and this summer, I transferred to the product team as a product manager.
How did you decide to move departments? How did it happen?
GSG was my first full-time job if you exclude internships. I started my career journey here and found the business developer role very interesting because I was curious about the company’s commercial side. I came across some product topics during my work and interacted a lot with the product team members. I found the interaction with the product team very interesting. I wanted to continue learning something new and discover more about the product manager role and see what possibilities I could have in terms of internal role transfer.
I had a chat with Gasper, my current team manager, where I told him that I was interested, and after the team discussion, they gave me the green light to join. After that, I coordinated with my current team on the transfer date and handover topics, and they gave me immense support. The whole process was rather casual and straightforward.
Tell us about the preparation process for your new role. Did you seek out any additional courses or certifications?
I had a couple of months for the transition, and while still working for the commercial team, I started reading some books and articles about product management recommended by the team. The primary source of learning was the product team, as they pointed me to some practical online courses and even when I joined, they made sure that the adjustment was gradual. I would say the environment was very supportive during the entire transition period.
It was also because the team was already in the middle of a big project, where my job was primarily supporting, observing the processes, and helping when necessary.
If someone would decide to move teams within GSG, what would be your advice?
First, try to talk to people from the team you want to join. You have to understand what that role entails, whether you are interested in a new position and whether it fits your skillset. If you don’t have all the necessary skills, try to assess how and when to develop them.
Don’t forget to make sure that your current team is informed about the potential transition. Overall, I’d say you would feel supported in your career development along the way.
What about applying for a job at GSG in general? What were your reasons two years ago, and what would they be now if you were using them externally?
I’d say back then, the main goal was to find an exciting job since it was my first one. Another reason was that I liked Munich and knew that I wanted to live there. Also, the entire interview process was very smooth, and I felt like it was a cultural match. This was the main reason, as good relationships with colleagues and a healthy work environment are essential for me.
As for now, I’d say the main reason to join is GSG people. You feel welcome and engaged with everyone, even if you don’t work together. You can make good friendships and hang out even outside of work hours. This supportive environment also helps to understand your career goals more and makes moving between teams easier.
I think the rapid company growth also puts an exciting challenge in front of all teams. Especially with new acquisitions, the work became more interesting as you can see and feel us moving into new business models.
Moving on from all the work-related questions, we know that you are one of the renowned foster dog mamas here at GSG. Tell us how it started and how it feels to have a dog in the office near you?
I’d say that this was a completely new experience for me. I started fostering dogs because of one of our colleagues, Jens. Shortly after I joined the company, I saw him walking around with a foster dog. I am a big dog person and have always loved them since I was a little child. However, living in Shanghai, you don’t have an environment to take care of a dog.
I started by helping him with his dog, and then he suggested doing it myself, and that’s how it began. Our Head of HR at the time was the primary connection between our colleagues, dog shelters, and future adoptive families.
So far, I have fostered five dogs, and all of them eventually found their forever homes. I’m thrilled that I can do this and grateful for colleagues that made it possible. Having a dog near you at the office is very helpful and fun. I’m glad we have a dog-friendly workplace. Having a dog at the office helps because you have to take a break and enjoy some fresh air. It’s also pleasant to bring this joy to other colleagues.
Sounds like a lot of fun. So considering everything we’ve talked about today, how would you define GSG culture, and where do you find yourself in it?
For me, it’s the GSG people, community, and support you get here. I’m trying to take an active role in it and always make more contributions to it where possible. I’ve been involved in many initiatives and will do my best to participate more. Unfortunately, due to recent changes, it’s getting more challenging to have a real connection with people. For example, I am always happy to greet a newcomer and show them around.
I am looking forward to the times where you could see people in real life and have people together again, in a safe environment, of course.
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