Living and working in China

Marcel Gerth-Noritzsch, Head of Engineering at MTU Maintenance Zhuhai, paints a picture of what it’s like to live and work in China.

12.2018 | Text: Victoria Nicholls

Text:
Victoria Nicholls is a specialist for aftermarket topics such as engine MRO, leasing and asset management, as well as international market trends. The British-born editor lives in Berlin and works for MTU’s corporate communications in Hannover and Ludwigsfelde.

“You’d be mad not to con­sid­er it,” says Mar­cel Gerth-Noritzsch about sec­ond­ments to MTU Main­te­nance Zhuhai. There is a lot to love: ex­cit­ing, dy­nam­ic pro­jects; a fast growthrate with­in the com­pa­ny; a very new and in­vig­o­rat­ing en­vi­ron­ment to work in; the chance to move past your com­fort zone. Any down­sides? “Well, put it this way, it is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent cul­ture that can be hard to get used to, es­pe­cial­ly for a Ger­man. We can be rigid in our mind­set.”

MTU and China

With bi­lat­er­al trade in goods worth near­ly 190 bil­lion eu­ros, ac­cord­ing to the Ger­man eco­nom­ic pub­li­ca­tion WirtschaftsWoche, Chi­na has been Ger­many’s most im­por­tant in­ter­na­tion­al trade part­ner for two con­sec­u­tive years now. It is al­so a key fo­cus for the Ger­man en­gine gi­ant, MTU Aero En­gines.

But be­yond cur­rent trade suc­cess, Chi­na is a key growth mar­ket for the fu­ture. Ac­cord­ing to Flight­glob­al’s fleet fore­cast, Chi­na’s com­mer­cial fleet of sin­gle-aisle and twin-aisle jets is fore­cast­ed to triple from 3,100 in 2017 to 9,400 air­craft in 2037, over­tak­ing the US by the end of the next decade. And from a main­te­nance per­spec­tive, over 35% of the world’s shop vis­it de­mand will come from the coun­try by 2027.

No won­der then that MTU Main­te­nance Zhuhai, set up 17 years ago and al­ready the num­ber one en­gine shop in Chi­na and largest nar­row­body shop in Asia, is poised for yet more growth. A shop ex­pan­sion of 50 per­cent, tak­ing the year­ly ca­pac­i­ty to 450 shop vis­its by 2021 is get­ting un­der­way.

Be­sides the strong re­la­tion­ship with Air­line cus­tomers, MTU has a wide net­work of re­la­tion­ships with oth­er play­ers in the Avi­a­tion and IGT Busi­ness. The com­pa­ny has a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice based in Shang­hai that is key to ne­go­ti­at­ing the lo­cal mar­ket and co­or­di­nat­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the boom­ing re­gion. For in­stance, Chi­na har­bors sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial for aero-de­riv­a­tive gas tur­bine ap­pli­ca­tions, in which MTU al­so spe­cial­izes through its sub­sidiary Veri­cor and its brush team spe­cial­ists, housed un­der the brand MTU Pow­er.

Gerth-Noritzsch moved back to Zhuhai in Sum­mer 2017 to take on the role of Head of En­gi­neer­ing. It is not his first time in the Pearl Delta Re­gion, he joined the fa­cil­i­ty in 2010 as an in­tern, more or less by chance, then wrote his the­sis there, be­fore be­ing tak­en on as a pro­ject leader un­til 2012. Now he leads the de­part­ment he once start­ed in and is ex­cit­ed about the up­com­ing ex­pan­sion plans as well as any new pro­grams that might be im­ple­ment­ed in the near fu­ture.

Se­ri­ous job pro­gres­sion was one rea­son he took up his cur­rent role, con­tract­ed for three years. But he al­so had per­son­al rea­sons: His wife is Chi­nese and to­geth­er, they would like their son to grow up speak­ing and writ­ing Chi­nese flu­ent­ly. This would be hard to achieve in Ger­many, es­pe­cial­ly speak­ing Ger­man at home. “I was al­so in the for­tu­nate po­si­tion of know­ing that I like liv­ing here,” he adds. “I think a lot of col­leagues wor­ry about hav­ing to com­pro­mise on the way of liv­ing that they are used to. But that isn’t the case, I don’t want for any­thing. I can trav­el Asia eas­i­ly, and I go home reg­u­lar­ly enough to stock up on any of the treats I might miss.”

Change for the better

Of course, work­ing in a dif­fer­ent coun­try and cul­ture comes with dif­fi­cul­ty. “In Ger­many, we tend to have a very reg­u­lat­ed way of work­ing and that flows in­to our process­es, we some­times for­get to be flex­i­ble. Things are reg­u­lat­ed here too, but in prac­tice, peo­ple will ad­just their stand­point to reach a so­lu­tion and help oth­ers save face,” Gerth-Noritzsch ex­plains. “Over­all, that is al­so more cus­tomer friend­ly.”

Gerth-Noritzsch al­so points out that it is easy to think that the coun­try you come from is the cen­ter of the world. “It does us good as peo­ple to learn there is no sin­gle way of do­ing some­thing. If you’re open to new ex­pe­ri­ences, you can learn a lot about your­self too,” he adds. “You al­so re­al­ize that the Ger­man Au­to­bahn is a won­der­ful thing and that we can be ex­treme­ly proud of our in­dus­tri­al her­itage.”

His ad­vice to any­one think­ing of tak­ing on a job in Zhuhai? “Come and vis­it to get a feel for the place – and take some ex­tra days off to do it, two days aren’t enough. Don’t go to a Chi­nese restau­rant in Ger­many, that isn’t any­where close to the qual­i­ty of food you get here. Be aware that the West­ern Eu­ro­pean me­dia cov­er­age of Chi­na is not im­par­tial. And think about life out­side of work, es­pe­cial­ly if you’ll be bring­ing a part­ner or fam­i­ly with you.”

MTU Newsletter
MTU Newsletter

Receive regular updates on excellent service and top technology “made by MTU” with our newsletter, which also features a range of topics from the wider world of aviation.

You may also be interested in these articles:

A smile in the sky

05.2015 | The aviation market in the world’s third-largest economy is opening up: The most recent contract extension cooperation with Solaseed Air is one of several successful partnerships for MTU Maintenance in Japan.

Flexible and stable

05.2016 | Because every order is different, aero engine maintenance makes great demands of the shop production system. Read on to learn more about modern production control at MTU Maintenance from the perspective of a trainee.

Ridgy-didge traineeships at MTU

05.2018 | For the last stint of her traineeship, Gihen Chtourou worked at the IGT MTU Maintenance Service Centre Australia in Perth. She shares her traineeship experience with AEROREPORT.