Since the planned move to Japan has been delayed to possibly the end of the year, I have started to send my resume out to local recruiters since early May. Almost immediately, I was contacted for a possible new role at App?e Asia.
Hint: App?e is a fruit. The company is a major consumer electronics company which I have recently become quite fond of. So I was happy to learn from my recruiter that they were planning to add a new role in marketing + data analysis, and they are interested in my skills.
The phone interview from Singapore went very well, we actually started by chatting about current events, how we each felt about the recent Olympic torch relay, the worldwide demonstrations and the Chinese nationals’ reactions. I told him that I found it sad that during the relay in Hong Kong, the crowds booed and yelled at and forcibly tried to stop a small group of protesters trying to raise concern for human rights in Tibet. Also, I found it ironic that Chinese nationals who grew up watching and reading state owned media / propaganda, are now protesting that Western media are “twisting the truth about Tibet to slander China”. (I should stop here, else I’ll go on for hours!)
So anyway, this company is hugely popular all over the world, but it doesn’t have any official stores in the Asia region, hence the need to web marketing as they are selling through their online stores. We spoke briefly about the company’s need for marketing data and my past experience, and things seemed to match up quite well. So well that we could move on and talk about other things again. I told him about my interests in conservation and the environment, and how I’m trying to create a web community that will help steer customers to environmentally friendly restaurants. He asked me if I think App?e is a company that is environmentally friendly! Honestly, I think the company has a great image, but I don’t know how serious they are about being “good” to the environment. I also said that at this point in time, this whole “green” thing has turned into somewhat like a political tool. It is now bad for your company if you are not “green”!
Next, I told him about my research into Crowdsourcing, I explained to him what it is and I told him about my friend Nishiyama-san’s company in Japan. I was really excited because I think App?e customers are known to be quite passionate about the company, and I thought we could really utilize crowdsourcing here to harness the power of their fan base to help the company! This is where it got interesting for me! He told me that although their company’s image seem to be quite open and innovative and user friendly… the fact is, (and we all know it), it is actually quite tyrannical. They like to keep things proprietary, controlled. Part of the reason is because it is run by the founder of the company, and whenever you have a company founder, it is hard to wrestle the control away from him. So, he basically told me, although it would be nice to have their fans help design their future products, it will most likely not happen any time soon.
When I thought about the possibility of working at App?e, I was really excited about how I could get an inside scoop and make more connections for a possible partnership with Cuusoo.com in the future. His response just showed me that it may not be so easy for Cuusoo.com to break into some of these “old style” corporations. Still, I told him that although App?e may not officially embrace customer participation… as part of marketing, it is still good to utilize your fan base to help evangelizing. Besides, crowdsourcing isn’t restricted to just official products, at the minimum, we can still provide “official feedback” to crowdsourced designed after market products!
We ended our ran overtime conversation with my view of an ideal role, their “not so sure if this position will materialize” (budget?), and more save the planet, use less plastic bag talks. (He mentioned that Ikea started charging for plastic bags and its usage dropped by 80%! That sure was impressive, and I would highly suggest supermarkets do the same, however, I think the typical Ikea customer only has to roll their shopping cart to their cars, so shopping bags are really quite useless! I doubt supermarkets can achieve the same results. Still, even a drop of 30% is better than nothing yeah?)
Seems like all the jobs that can get me excited are not based in Hong Kong… sigh… Hong Kong… don’t you have anything exciting to offer?