It's been over years since I turned down that job at SMIC. And looking
back, I'll never know if I made the right decision. Because indeed I
might have learned a lot especially from the experiences of other, just
what it would have been like for me out there, I would have been irrevocably
changed, and far from the person I am now.
Yesterday I revisted my history and asked my self the questions. Did
I really sit in the CEO's office and did I really have a job offer sitting
on the table in front of me where I said "No I don't think I can
take the job, I'll get back to you" Was it really that dramatic?
or did I know somthing did I have some intuition, or was I just lucky.
As much as I can tell about the process though. China does change people,
some for the better, some less so.
I have friends who've gone out there and been rudely rejected.
I've had friends go there with humility, then return to the United
States, and then return again.
Laurie writes of this yearning as "object permanance" the
ability to know that somthing is still out there, even when it's out
of sight, and beyond the reach of our senses.
Summer 2002 - Clara, and Carolyn go on the China Teaching Team trip,
I think they're in Shanghai. Clara visits SMIC's factory.
October 22, 2002 - The LA times publishes it's first
article on SMIC.
January 2003 - SMIC announces that they are going to build a 300mm
fab in Shanghai. I read about it in EETimes. I sign up for the Perspectives
Febuary 2003 - Clara informs me that she has gone to SMIC, and I might
be qualified, if I want to go. She gives me a business card which has
the e-mail of a "Richard Chang"
I send my resume cold to SMIC in China. I attach two job descriptions,
Feb 28,2003 - I receive a standard response letter from Mr Richard
Chang, who has sent it down to his secretary, and it has been forwarded
to the appropriate parties. The response letter includes the "Standard
Package" and a brief description of what it might be like to work
out there. I'm inspired. I go on a ski trip with Allen as his going
away present before he gets married. I can't stop talking about the
idea that I might actually be moving to China.
March 3, 2003 - I receive the standard rejection letter from Billy
Yep (the HR director) I'm amazed that
April 3, 2003 - Allen gets married, the end of an era.
May 2003 - Somewhat discouraged from the rejection letter, I inquire
again with Clara, who tells me that maybe I should call the founder
of PESI and explain what I'm thinking about doing. So I call him, send
him an e-mail, and he suggests that I go on a Vision Trip with him in
June 2003 - I get a RFQ and an Automation Specification from our salesmen.
We're actually going to sell a tool to these guys, and one of our Advanced
flatness systems, a tool which I'm only vaguely aware if it has an export
license and can get past the wassenberger agreement.
The company SMIC.
Dan and Ann have finally gotten around to going to Cambodia.
August 2003 - I make my first trip to Shanghai. I stay at the InterContinental.
We quote the tool, I show them a little bit about what our software
can do. Kenneth hooks me up with a couple people from the school. I
see the Living Quarters. Christina tells one of her friends to hang
out with me, his English is amazing.
September 2003 - I make my second trip to China, as part of the vision
team. I see YSR. We're staying in a 'guest house' in Wuwei, I hear the
vision of what YSR is. I give "the speech"
to my students at the YSR middle school. I still think I don't know
what that idiom "30 years West, 30 years East" means. At this
point, it sounds more like "What goes around, comes around."
October 2003 - I return to Shanghai for the job interview. They've
put me up at the SMIC dorms. It is not quite the Hotel InterContinental.
After the interview, the next day I go out and walk around town with
Christina's friend Ken. Over the weekend I go to the PESI retreat, and
meet a lot of the associates out there. On sunday, I'm invited over
for dinner at our salesmanager's house. During the subway trip back,
I ponder if I can really live in Shanghai. Monday I fly home.
I get back to Boston. Our salesmanager calls with the counteroffer.
I ponder both the idea of going to China and working for SMIC, and the
idea of working for my own company out there. both of them have their
- SMIC is a pre-formed community amongst a lot of expatriates. It
might be a bubble all to itself. and it's in Pudong.
- My current company has one salesman, and a bunch of representatives
(who don't really work for us, but help with the service and some
of the support) but they're in PuXi. Which would be the center of
the city. Xu Jia Hui, kind of like the Times Square of the city, bright,
lots of glass and shopping, and promising.
But somthing strange is also happening. My life seems to unraveling.
My girlfriend has left me, and there are rumors beginning to circulate
about my ethics.
November 2003 - Mike moves out, I turn down the job.
Soong-Chan says "I think it would be better if you didn't attend
I start going to BCEC. Jeff leaves.
Everything seems to be falling apart. I slip into depression. I write
"The mud at the bottom of the river"
December 2003 - TSMC starts it's lawsuit against SMIC.
January 2004 - Amidst the coldest darkest month. Boston experiences
a 30+ days where the temperature fails to rise above freezing. I'm living
in a very lonely 1300 square foot apartment, with two bedrooms I never
use, a family room, and a living room I barely go into.
At the end of the month, instead of going to a superbowl party I drive
out to Dorchester bay, and walk out over the ice. I look up the moon
is out, hung there by a purple dragon.
Febuary 2004 - I go to Malaysia for the first time, Singapore seems
oddly reminiscent of the time I was there over 4 years ago.
Malaysia is a surreal dream, I've just gotten off the coldest winter
ever, and here I was sitting next to a pool. I sent photos back to Boston,
of me frolicking in the water in the Lone Pine inn. Gaugahn might have
been right. The tropics are paradise.
In the end I wrote that I left Penang,
a place I hadn't planned to go,
arriving in an airport I wasn't suppostd to
to catch a flight I wasn't supposted
to be on,
back in the United States, in a city where I'm not quite sure.
May 2004 - I go to China for the second time to see YSR. I'm inspired
to go back. It feels comfortable, I don't go to Shanghai this time.
But the same students are there, it's a different group.
June 2004 - I remind myself that I am called to China - I remind my
boss, and the our vice president of sales, but at this point SMIC is
in the heat of it's lawsuit against TSMC. They're in no position to
buy our tools.
September 2004 - I move into the basement of my house. Although the
top floor was depressing, the basement seems so much a step down. I
cry for all the things I've lost, even though I still have so much.
October 2004 - I go to Malaysia for the second time.