From Spectator to All-around Storyteller

Chao Xu – Senior Corporate Communications Executive, Jebsen Group

2020 was special for many reasons. One of these was, of course, Jebsen Group’s 125th anniversary – a celebration of our long history of excellence and the hard work of every team member past and present. While such a notable milestone is enough to fill anyone with pride, the occasion offered something extra special for me in particular: exclusive front-row seats to see how the Jebsen magic happens across our organisation.

As Senior Corporate Communications Executive, one of my key anniversary-related projects was to compile a video spotlighting 40 team members from different business lines. Once we decided on the video concept, our camera crew and team travelled across Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and my home base Shanghai, interviewing these featured colleagues and capturing footage as they talked about their work, growth, and memories at Jebsen.

Ultimately, each colleague had just a few seconds of airtime in the finished 3.5-minute video. But as the interviewer, I had the privilege of hearing all of their unforgettable stories. Behind each sound bite were anecdotes about grit, hard work, and positivity; memories about growing up, starting families, and achieving personal milestones while being Jebsen team members. The many different personalities inspired me to expand my views and engage better, and by the time I was done I felt completely humbled by the amazing diversity and talent at our company.

I truly enjoyed this experience, but the opportunity to meet so many fascinating colleagues was only part of it. The truth is, this project was perfectly aligned to what I consider my professional strengths. From designing the storyline, devising the interview angles and messaging, to eventually taking the interviewer’s seat, every step of this project appealed to the communicator in me. I loved talking to people and learning about the different things they do. I enjoyed adapting to various communication styles and challenging myself to think on my feet and ask better questions. This is exactly the kind of work I like – it’s where I find my groove.

With nearly a decade’s experience in marcomms, PR and corpcomms, I had always wanted to explore my potential in communications. But it was only after joining Jebsen in 2017 that I saw how this potential could take shape, and how far it could take me. Here, I discovered not just one, but several streams of communication talent I could develop for my career growth. The first one is writing.

Each day, I draft everything from timely news releases for external media and engaging feature content for MORUS, to high level executive remarks and more. These exercises have honed my writing skills, both the ability to choose the right words and to be strategic in my messaging. These essential skills also extend to the way I work with my remote team: with the corporate communications team dispersed across markets, clarity and concision go a long way in ensuring we’re communicating effectively.

Jebsen has also given me an opportunity to take my talent off the screen and onto the stage. By some chance a few years ago, I was chosen to be the emcee at our annual dinner. Once I got over my stage fright, I came to realise how much I liked the task. Taking the mic at numerous subsequent press, internal and CSR events since, I have been able to sharpen my language skills, stage presence and ability to improvise when things go off track.

Recognising my growing confidence, the company has recently presented me with an even greater challenge: taking on the role of real-time interpreter for Mr Eberlein at Jebsen Motors media events, and sometimes even for Mr Jebsen! While it certainly made me a bit nervous at first, with lots of practice and an increasing familiarity with the company business, this too has turned into one of my regular duties on the job, and something I thoroughly enjoy. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had at Jebsen to grow as a communicator.

I have only been here a few years, but I’m already stretching my comfort zone and achieving things that I never thought possible. But that’s one of the best things about Jebsen. There’s always room to do more, do better and surprise yourself – a spirit that, no doubt, has been at the core of the company’s growth over the last 126 years.