I have been with Jebsen for 25 years. As Senior Secretary of the Consumer Business Line, I am one of those long-serving employees within the team. What is it like to work in the same company for a quarter of a century, you may ask? To put it in context, consider the fact that back then, we used typewriters for most of our word processing. Nowadays there is only one left in the office, and I sometimes still like to use it for contracts, charming our senior managers with its familiar and endearing sounds. As for the first company product that I purchased after joining Jebsen, it was the Pentax film camera advertised by actor Dicky Cheung back then.
I would compare my role as secretary to a CASIO wristwatch: modestly practical yet functionally versatile. When I joined Jebsen in 1995, there were only three of us in my department. I had to take care of matters beyond the administrative, responsible for also obtaining price quotations, researching, and distributing the ARRI brand’s film and photography equipment.
I am grateful that the four managers I have worked with during my time at Jebsen have all been very supportive of me, patiently guiding me when I was still inexperienced and then letting me work independently as I got a better grasp of the business. In my opinion, mutual trust is the most critical element in a team; it allows you to learn more and feel more fulfilled.
In 2003, we were launching the brand-new CASIO pocket camera, an event that unfortunately coincided with the SARS outbreak. There were about ten of us in the team then, and we all understood to play to our own strengths: colleagues in marketing were striving for media exposure, those in sales liaised with the distributors, and I, the secretary, was not going to just sit around in the office watching the battle from afar. I joined the rest of the team on the streets with our face masks on, doing on-the-ground promotion and attending to potential clients. We were such a strong and coordinated team that even the distributors were able to recognise every single one of us in the team.
In the end, our sales event was tremendously successful despite the epidemic. More importantly, our team bond really shone through the adversity. Jebsen has always prized its people-first culture, and our manager rewarded our hard work by personally sponsoring our whole team on a trip to Taiwan! Our sense of belonging to the company elevated tremendously after he generously toured us around Taiwan, visiting the spots he frequented when he lived there as a student.
These 25 years have flown by and if it were not for these tales, I sometimes forget that I have been here this long. Maybe it is because I enjoy my work so much, working with colleagues who are more like family. The job itself has been an eye-opening experience. I remember once joining ARRI on the set of Needing You… to watch the filming process – surely this isn’t an experience all company secretaries can boast about having!
Earlier I likened my secretarial role to a multi-functional CASIO wristwatch. Well, today’s watches come with added features like GPS and heartbeat monitors; as a secretary I must also catch up with the times. My work is no longer limited to just handling typical administrative paperwork. These days, I also fully utilise the power of the Internet to carry out my job. Before, we used to only represent a few large brands, but now our scope includes diverse types of products as well as our homegrown retail brand J SELECT, requiring extra effort as we have to perform both on- and offline promotion work.
I may have been here for a long time, but each generation brings different insights and experiences. I am always learning from my younger colleagues. Spending time with these energetic young people helps me equip myself to keep up with the times, just as Jebsen always has.