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Michael

Four Questions to

Michael is a Carrier Gas Product Manager for one of our biggest customers in Electronics. Based in Shanghai, China, he is speaking about caring for customers, cultural differences, and butterflies.

  • You have been appointed Product Managers for an important customer in Electronics, what has led you to this position? 

I have been working on the business development and the execution of several Carrier Gas projects for an American producer of computer memory and computer data storage in the past. I learnt a lot from our customers including their expectations of strategic suppliers and favored ways of negotiation. Becoming a Product Manager extended my work scope and changed my focus to business management and customer relationship management. 

I always need to put myself in customers' shoes so that I can dig into their actual demands and allocate necessary internal or even external resources to present a win-win solution for both Air Liquide and the customer.

I always need to put myself in customers’ shoes
  • What has surprised you about the job in the first 30 days?

Ways of working vary among affiliates, and I’m learning a lot from it. I expected diversity in this position but after one month of working with all of these teams, I discovered that the gap between cultures was even wider than I thought. 

As the workload, seniority and culture are very different, I spent additional time communicating with each team in the first two months to understand. 

  • What are some highlights of the job so far?

I’m working for a very large account of Air Liquide and many people may wonder what a Product Manager in an Account team does. The answer could be simple, as well as complex. 

As several new Carrier Gas projects are ongoing, I’m busy supporting the business development and the alignment of the global resources. Overall it is an interesting job as I’m facing different challenges every day. In the meantime, as it involves business from different countries across the globe, I need to get ready to communicate and process tasks at any time.

  • What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from? 

My manager once suggested multitasking. As our customer passed lots of requests - for proposals, price discount, contract amendments, etc.- to Air Liquide from time to time. In order to show how we care about our customers, we chose to devote more time and resources to these requests but it could be hard to focus on the key tasks with a very limited amount of time. Then she used a metaphor that all such requests could be the butterflies sent out by the customer - sometimes we may get distracted from the main road and it would help if we could sort all the opening items, prioritize the critical ones, and dedicate most resources to those until their completion then moves onto the next task. 

This principle is super useful as customers nowadays tend to learn more and more about their suppliers and industrial gas business model, they can have lots of demands in cost efficiency as well value creation, and that’s where all those requests come from.

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