Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health
28 November 2017
Jacqueline Berlin

An interesting, challenging and rewarding experience

Xiang Li describes herself as agile, open-minded and as a fast-learner. Graduated with a bachelor degree from Guanghua School of Management, Beijing University, specializing in Marketing, she currently works as a trainee at the Global Cattle Marketing team at Boehringer Ingelheim in Germany. She reports to the Head of Strategic Business Unit of Ruminants, works mainly with a Global Brand Manager for a cattle vaccine and supports other brand managers in the team on their digital activities. All in all an interesting, challenging, and rewarding experience at the same time!

If you remember your start here at Boehringer Ingelheim: what was important for you, concerning the choice of your employer?

When choosing an employer, for me there are some criteria that are essential. The most important part is the people I would be working with. I am now working with very smart and professional colleagues, from whom I can learn a lot. They are also considerate towards not just my work but my life here in general. Secondly, I value the training and the opportunity to learn. Since starting this traineeship, I experienced a dramatically steep learning curve. I was and am still learning lots of new things every day. The best thing is that, the longer I work here, the more I realize that I’ve made the right choice in the first place.


Could you describe your career path? Was it clear or did you have to find the right way?

I believe that marketing is where my passion and skills lie, and I have been working towards a career in marketing ever since. I did various internships in different aspects of marketing, including marketing research with Ipsos, business development with European Union Small and Medium Enterprise Center, and digital marketing with IBM. It was not clear in the beginning as to which direction in marketing, or as to which industry, or to what kind of a company that I would want to go to. But after these internships, including this traineeship with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, I started to envision a clearer career path, that I would want to pursue in the future. Working with Boehringer Ingelheim has been the most challenging, but at the same time, the most interesting and rewarding experience. I had no background training in pharmaceuticals or animal health, which has proven to be an even more exciting learning experience. This traineeship will be the blueprint of my career path in the future.


What were the biggest challenges that you have had to face during your traineeship? How did you master them?

The big challenges usually come from the soft skills perspective. Managing relationships with colleagues from different countries is not only time-consuming, but requires lots of skills and good understanding of the situation. However, the biggest challenge so far, is that my boss has left his role halfway into my traineeship. Since February, I have started gradually taking over marketing projects. But because of my background, and my much less comparable professional experience,to my boss, certain pressure and expectations of my daily work have been raised tremendously, since his departure. Of course, this is also a great opportunity for me and luckily, I can still count on my colleagues and learn the best ways to manage projects from them. Instead of just doing pieces of the assignments handed to me, like my previous internships, I am now able to take ownership and make decisions. Therefore I realized that it is important to change my own mentality towards my work, to assert myself when needed and be proactive.


Do you remember any special moment concerning your work?

The first time I was really moved was the first week after arriving in Ingelheim. I was asked to make a short video including all colleagues in the team for a department meeting. After shooting the video and creating the script, I was quite stressed out because my colleagues had different opinions on how the video should be. I had no idea how to proceed. Heinz, who I shared the office with, explained to me with great patience, that it is normal to have challenging voices within the team. Everyone has a different working style, since everyone is from a different background or a different country. He encouraged me to share my ideas and to be confident in my work.


Concerning Boehringer Ingelheim: why is the company your employer of choice?

I see Boehringer Ingelheim as a good employer for anyone, because through my work here, I find the core values of Boehringer Ingelheim and spirit of this company carried out not just on strategic level, but also in the daily work and in every employee’s attitude. For example, the emphasis on innovation and focus on the future can be seen through the portfolio of product and also through the directions of the marketing activities. A lot of projects such as farm animal well-being forum reflect the special relationship we have with our clients, advocated by my colleagues and fellow brand managers. There have also been so many moments that I feel truly cared for by the company and by all of my colleagues. They spare no effort in teaching me everything they know, and show sincere concern for my personal life here in Ingelheim.


You applied for a traineeship in Germany: Why do you want to work abroad?

Professionally, I believe that working abroad can enable me to learn more about other markets first-hand. Europe is also a region that has always interested me culturally. I was planning to study a master degree abroad, and then work in an oversea market to enhance that international experience and to increase my own mobility/flexibility in the future. I met with my boss for the first time at an alumni event, and I was immediately sold by the trainee work and the company he represented. I decided to apply for this position and felt so lucky having received this opportunity.


You originally come from China – could you describe a little bit your life there?

I come from Beijing, the capital of China. Beijing is a different place in every way compared to Ingelheim, or even Frankfurt. Because of the huge population and mass area of the city, life in Beijing is a combination of lots of elements. There is excitement for the fast-changing market and opportunities; chaos from constant reconstruction of the city surface. For the first three months of my one-year traineeship I was working from the Beijing office, while waiting for my visa to come through. Even though my work was similar, life was different. In general, I feel there is higher pressure and more distraction in Beijing.


How important is global mobility for you?

Global mobility is an important factor when choosing a job or employer for me, if not the most important. It can provide a huge advantage in terms of both career development and personal development. Professionally, a job with global mobility means a chance to learn more about other markets and potentially other functions, and aspire oneself to understand the global scale of a product or brand, and to take the best practices with you. Personally, it enables me to go to places that I am curious about culturally, or places that I need to be. Therefore, if a job doesn’t offer any flexibility, I could foresee that it is much more likely that I might take new positions elsewhere when I need to change course, professionally or personally.


Finally: Do you have an advice for other talents?

Accept challenges with an open heart. If you don’t feel a push back from the path called life, then you are going downhill.

"I feel truly cared for by the company and by all of my colleagues, says Xiang Li. "
Jacqueline Berlin
Boehringer Ingelheim Xiang Li
Graduated with a bachelor degree from Guanghua School of Management, Beijing University, specializing in Marketing, Xiang Li currently works as a trainee at the Global Cattle Marketing team at Boehringer Ingelheim in Germany.

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