18 April, 2007

Lenovo FY 2008 Kick-Off meeting - Beijing

Last week, Lenovo China had their FY2008 kick off meeting. My first "all hands" meeting in China. I've been to tons with IBM and a few with Lenovo in Raleigh, but those don't compare to this.

I can't say it was strange...but it was weird. At the beginning, the company song was placed. I've been here for almost 8 months, and I think that was the first time I've heard it. The first thing that caught me a bit off guard was that most of the meeting (almost 4 hours) was in Chinese. I should have assumed that going in, but Amelio and some other non-Chinese Sr. VPs were on the agenda too. We were handed headsets when we came in, used for an English translation during the meeting.

The translators were not good, at all. I'm sure it's not easy to interpret, real time, but it was bad. There were two interpreters switching on and off. They would come in and out of the booth, forgetting to close the door. Shuffling papers around, not able to keep up, skipping entire sentences, etc.... That part of the event just was not a good experience. I have a couple English majors on my team who could have done a much better job, I'm sure.

It was interesting to see how excited the employees here in China got. The employee recognition here also seems pretty good. I believe they had over 100 employees recognized at the event. All received flowers, a plaque or trophy and likely some cash too.

At the beginning of the meeting, I noticed some sections had large flags rolled up. I had no idea what they were going to do with them. At the end of the meeting, the leaders of each organization in China got up on stage one-by-one, chanted some stuff, rolled out some small signs in Chinese (I believe they were stating their commitments for FY2008). Then, they asked their teams to stand up in the crowd and repeat after them. That's when the flags came out (Lenovo flags) and people shouted back the statements to the people on the stage. Very interesting, never saw anything like that before.

The last part of the event had Chairman Yang and Bill Amelio on stage, in F1 racing jackets. They grabbed a couple of "gas pumps" and began pumping blue liquid into a clear Lenovo glass tank. When the tank was full, race car sounds began and a car appeared on the big screen. Finally, an F1 race car (AT&T/Williams car - Lenovo sponsored) came crashing through a paper wall and revved its engine for a while. Kind of cool, got people excited.

I'll get to experience a few more of these here, I'm sure the next will be more interesting than the last.

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