Name: Ofer Golan
Job: AppInChina GM
Can you tell us a little bit about you; why and how did you end up in Beijing?
My name is Ofer Golan. I’m from Israel, but have been in Beijing for the last three years.
I wanted to come to China to travel ever since I was a boy; I’ve always been attracted to Asia in general and China specifically. As a child, I imagined China as a very different and a much more exciting place than any other country. After coming to China, and learning about what the country is really like from an insider’s perspective, I can say that I am very happy that I took the chance to come to China, live here and have this experience.
Upon completing my military service, I had the chance to come to work in China. As I always wanted to come to China, even if just for traveling, the decision to come was really a no-brainer. Back then, it seemed like a good chance to combine traveling and working, which would give me a much more meaningful “China experience”. However, I didn’t plan on staying in China that long.
What are your thoughts on the mobile Internet industry in China?
China’s mobile Internet industry is booming and continuously developing.
Commoditization of the smartphone market in China is being driven by lower-cost, domestically produced smartphones, especially within rural areas. China, although only having reached 60% market penetration, already has more than 600 million smartphone users and more than one billion smartphones, and this number will increase significantly in the near future. E-commerce, online mobile payments systems and of-course the mobile gaming, are all spurring the monetization of the huge mobile traffic in China.
The Chinese market is huge and fast-moving. A lot of local Chinese companies are shifting from PC to mobile, but this trend actually began a few years ago. The start-up scene is very dynamic; I experience it first-hand and it’s a great feeling to be a part of it. Numerous foreign tech companies have already established a physical presence in China, which shows the great potential people see in the Chinese Internet industry.
Do you have any advice for jobseekers looking for work in the same industry or position as you? What advice would you give them and what mistakes would you tell them to avoid?
I know there a lot of opportunities to start your career in this sector. Like any other sectors, you always have to learn, especially in this continuously evolving industry. It’s definitely possible; getting your first internship or full-time position can sometimes be easier than you might think.
For young professionals, I reckon that it is very important to have the hunger to learn and be modest; both in your willingness to learn new things, and learn from others. There are so many smart and amazingly talented people out there; it would be a shame not to learn from their life experience and knowledge.
Second, be self-disciplined. Be very clear with yourself what is most important for you at the current point in your life. Invest all you can in developing yourself, acquire new set of skills and tools, and be in a constant process of learning. And recognize that in the end, you will be measured by your results. You want to know that you have done all you can in order to achieve the needed skills to perform the best. It’s okay to not to succeed, but you have to know you did all you can.
Third, don’t ever compare yourself with other people, whether it be someone who studied in one of the best business school or someone who is working in one of the leading companies in the world. Other people are out of your control, but you are in full control of yourself; you just need to realize that you have all is needed in order to get to where you want.
Last, try to appreciate everything life brings you; the nature of things is not always like we expected. Disappointments are an unavoidable part of life; just make sure you emerge stronger and smarter after each one of them.
How do you think international candidates can succeed in their professional lives in China? What kind of soft or technical skills would they need to overcome barriers?
Well, I think the answer to this question is not that simple. I strongly believe that international candidates should understand that China is different than any other place they have been. In China, there is sometimes a different way to do things, and even though it might not the right way in your opinion, it is the right way.
Respect the Chinese people, and acknowledge that China is home-court for the Chinese and let them take the lead. The Chinese people are very talented, and fun to work with.
Of course there is the Chinese language ability, I assume people might disagree with me but I recommend you do study Chinese, try to bring your Chinese to a level you can actually work in Chinese. It will help a lot and open a lot of doors, and personally I think it will say a lot about you. It is extremely long and hard road, so be ready for it. But it will position you in a higher place and definitely will pay off.
Can you tell us what AppInChina does and what inspired you to join their team?
I will start by saying few words about AppInChina. Simply, we strive to form the bridge between China and the rest of the App world by distribution and promoting Android Apps in the Chinese market. We work with App developers from all over the world helping them to enter China and then managing their App presence in China from A-Z.
I joined AppInChina for 2 main reasons: I started my career in the mobile Internet industry, and gained experience in both foreign and Chinese companies that only do “China Outbound”. AppInChina does “China Inbound” and that’s something that really interests me and is quite different than anything I have done so far. Like everything, there are upsides and downsides to each one of them, but the idea of bridging the western App world with the Chinese App world is very interesting to me.
The second reason is that joining AppInChina in this position is a very big professional promotion for me. I have got the opportunity to manage and work together with both Chinese and foreigners, a role that benefits me a lot and I really appreciate. Without a doubt, my current position has brought me more satisfaction and learning opportunities than any other position I have previously held.
What are a few of your favorite places to go to in Beijing? (food, sightseeing etc)
My favorite place in Beijing is a small courtyard next to 红桥市场, my best friend lives there. It’s a quiet place with a very unique atmosphere. I’m pretty familiar with the local Chinese families that live there, and every time I go there they treat me like I’m part of the family.
Another place I really like is 鼓楼大街, this is the first place I went to when I came to Beijing. I really love hutongs and go there quite often.
I try to go hiking in the outskirts of Beijing as much as possible and there are nice places like 云蒙山 and 香屯. Both, I would highly recommend.
What home comforts do you miss in Beijing? And how has your different culture and background driven your work ethic?
Israel is a very small country. In a two-hour drive you can get to a totally different landscape. I really miss the ease of traveling by just getting in your car and driving for a few hours. I really like hiking and while I was in Israel I used to do that quite often. In Beijing is not so possible and I miss the outdoors a lot.
Other than that, I find Beijing a really comfortable place to live in, and I think I already got used to the different lifestyle the city offers and I like it.
I believe the fact that I have arrived in China when I was 25 and after a long military service has been a big help. I only lately just began to understand how much these years prior coming to China have helped me in shaping my personality and preparing me better for the great challenges China has to offer.
I also think that the fact that I grew up in different environment could be helpful while living in China, because foreigners usually have another point of view on different situations, and I really believe developing the ability to combine it with the Chinese point-of-view is a key factor in planning a career in China.