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#INSTeam
Sandra Ciecka
Sales Developer

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Tell us about your career path, how did a Toulousaine like yourself end up in Shanghai?

I’m actually from Montauban, not far from Toulouse. In 2013, I had the opportunity to go on holiday to Shanghai and other cities nearby. It was a real revelation for me and made me want to go and live abroad. As such, China, and more specifically Shanghai was a natural choice for me.

What do you miss the most from your region?

Without a doubt my grandmothers’ dishes. I really miss specialities from the Southwest of France, and French gastronomy in general. Despite Shanghai being a very international and fast developing city, duck confit will never taste the same as it does back home.

Is there anything you’ve discovered in China that you can’t live without now?

I think the day I go back to France I’ll have trouble getting back into to the daily routine. Everything moves so fast here in comparison to Europe. China was 30 years behind ten years ago, but in the space of ten years it has managed to develop in ways that are unimaginable in West. Developments have been made to make life easier in general: transport, payment, whatever you want to buy in this huge, populated city that is Shanghai.

What is your role at INS?

I was initially hired as a Business Developer for the company. My role was to develop our network mostly face-to-face at business fairs, in order to make INS and its services better known to those wishing to set up in China. My position then evolved and became more sales focused with more managerial responsibilities. I continue to prospect for and maintain a rapport with clients, from introducing them to our services, to negotiate and follow-up. I have a truly diverse role, a real challenge that requires a variety of skills and to be extremely understanding towards businesses’ needs.

What is your typical day like?

There is no typical day at INS, it really depends on my schedule of fairs that I regularly attend and the different client accounts I look after. The great thing about the office is that we can all share our expertise; for instance I’m always in touch with the HR and Finance departments. When I’m not at an exhibition, I follow-up with clients that I have met to make sure INS fully understand their needs and can adapt its services accordingly. I also manage negotiations until the finalisation of the contract, as well as manage client accounts to ensure a continuity of service. 

You help foreign companies to quickly set up in Asia and operate in the best way possible. What are the main difficulties they face?

The main difficulties they face often come from the time they take to adapt to Chinese culture. Laws change very quickly, it’s important to take advice from experts in this field. A lack of cultural knowledge can prevent business growth. In Chinese culture, a strong business relationship take time to build and the specifics of Chinese culture vary from one city and region to another. For example, the usual codes of conduct in Shanghai will be different to those in Beijing or Chengdu. It is important to have the cultural know-how to help your business succeed in China. 

You also deal with selling services to French wine companies at INS. Is it because you love this field that it naturally led you to this position?

Coming from Southwest France, the love of fine products comes quite naturally. So dealing with the clients in the Food & Beverage industry at INS Global came as something perfectly natural but I also deal with other such as engineering.

You won the Women’s Entrepreneur Prize in 2016, could you tell us more about it?

I was presented with this award at the Entrepreneuship Contest as part of my studies in Entrepreneurship and Management of Organisations. Over the course of six months, myself and four other classmates were immersed in the reality of the typical entrepreneur wanting to set up his/her business. We basically had to come up with a business proposal, finance plan, find potential suppliers, convince investors and of course the judging panel. We were guided throughout the process by a professional coach; it was a great and very fulfilling experience. 

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