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I personally participated in all designer to client meetings, using a Chinese translator, who was the CEO of the company, to facilitate all the design ideas to our clients and negotiate, design details, schedules and payment issues. In that first year I travelled 8 times to China, with a minimum stay of a month each time with at least 18 flights to Chongqing, where the project was located. We were given a timeframe of 12 months to design and produce all working drawings for this first Olympic project, which I managed to succeed in completing within 9 months, 3 months ahead of schedule.
Despite some about turns by the client, which related to the changing of a just accepted completed design of an Olympic sized swimming pool to a Sea pool at the eleventh hour?I cannot quote the project’s value, as cost was never an issue, and we were never privy to the construction budgets, however the final design fee for this first Chinese design project totaled some 2.1 million RMB, which we were paid on completion.
At the end of 2006, the New Zealand principal of the company decided to pull out of China, but I continued, running the company jointly with the current Chinese CEO. From then on we, designed many lavish individual projects both, private and commercial. Our staff grew from 4 to 17 as of 2008. Subsequently my work was published in several well regarded Beijing Design magazines, copies of which are available for perusal. I was regularly interviewed for local television, increasing the company profile. I found this overseas employment very stimulating and challenging, having to learn a new language (Mandarin) which has been added to the 5 other foreign languages I already speak.
Coupled with the challenge of doing business in a totally new way, both operational and physiological , I enjoyed my long sojourn in China immensely, and would probably still be there, if it had not been for the current world economic downturn. I was constantly challenged, by both the quality control of the contractors and the problem solving design capabilities of our staff, but patiently weathered these, to form a close knit team who ultimately all enjoyed their work. Male staff members referred to me in Mandarin as “Master “, whereas the female staff called me “grandfather “ To say I had and still do have a great working relationship with my Chinese staff, (all design graduates) would be an understatement!