Pioneers
Mar 04, 2022
| 4 min read

Break all self-imposed limitations, see your strengths - You will find your stage”

Women on the power to lead: Echo Zhang

Echo Zhang, Head of Customer Support Center Asia, joined Sartorius in 2015 as Commercial Operation Manager for the Chinese market. Since then, she has been meeting new challenges in line with the dynamic growth of the company. From building up well-functioning supply chain processes, to successfully managing an unprecedented, extremely fragile situation of goods delivery after the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, Echo has grown into an inspirational leader. Learn more about the skills she needs for her role and her tips for ambitious women.

This article is posted on Sartorius Blog.
 


Echo, in your role you are managing Sartorius’ Customer Support Center (CSC) in Asia. What exactly is your key responsibility?

"The CSC at Sartorius is an essential connection platform between the needs of our biopharma customers or sales team and the output of our operations team. We work - day in and day out - to ensure each customer order is delivered efficiently by coordinating production capacity at a global level, automating order processes, and managing inventories and vendors."
 

This sounds like a complex task. Which skills do you need for this?

"It certainly is. The job requires considerable communications skills, as you need to moderate between different stakeholders on an ongoing basis. And this again calls for a strong degree of empathy. Our customers face very complex challenges that at the same time can have a major impact on patients worldwide. In customer support, thus, you need to be able to put yourself into their shoes, understand their sense of urgency while remaining a patient listener and ultimately becoming an active problem solver. Attention to detail, persistence, resilience, and a can-do attitude are further prerequisites for solving our daily tasks. It’s not an easy job, but obviously a much rewarding one. We saw this very clearly when we managed to supply our products to customers to produce Covid-19 vaccines even in the most challenging times."
 

You need to be able to put yourself into the customers' shoes, understand their sense of urgency while still remaining a patient listener and ultimately becoming an active problem solver.

Echo Zhang, Head of Customer Support Asia


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Talking about pandemic, how big was the pressure for you and your team at that time?

"It was immense. When the pandemic broke out in 2020, there were suddenly significant challenges regarding unpredictable customer demand and shortages. In the midst of this chaos, we tried to build up a system to prioritize pandemic related orders, find additional freight resources and communicate with customers. It gives you a bad feeling to inform customers about delivery delays and if you have to do this again and again, it puts a huge pressure on you. Knowing our products can be part of the solution to the pandemic added its part."
 

How did you lead your team through this difficult time?

"In usual times, I see my leadership role in aligning the company goals with individual targets, inspiring the whole team to move in the same direction. In addition, I believe embracing changes starts with me as a role model. So that’s what I did during the toughest times: I trusted my team in doing their best to improve the situation. Against all the external pressure, I felt like I needed to serve as their internal “psychological masseuse” rather than acting as an additional challenger. After understanding the situation, I tried to support them wherever I could and relieve the additional pressure they created through self-blaming."


Against all the external pressure, I felt like I needed to serve as an internal “psychological masseuse” rather than acting as an additional challenger.

Echo Zhang, Head of Customer Support Asia


With International Women’s Day coming up, please share with us how you as a leader inspire or propel other women to take the lead.

"In some Asian countries, humility and self-sacrifice are part of the culture, distinctive traits especially for women. It’s important to understand this as a leader in order not to oversee the potential in some of your team members.
Let me give an example: I remember in one case, one of my female team members was concerned about taking a leadership role I proposed because there was a male colleague in her team. After understanding her concern, I had a personal talk with her about her valuable strength, and excellent performance, encouraging her so that she felt more confident about taking this position. In addition, I shared my experience in leading different people and promised to support her going forward. Since then she has become a wonderful leader. For women waiting for permission to lead, I urge them to break all self-imposed limitations, see your strengths and express your thoughts and views courageously. You will find your stage!"


For women waiting for permission to lead, I urge them to break all self-imposed limitations, see your strengths and express your thoughts and views courageously. You will find your stage!

Echo Zhang, Head of Customer Support Asia


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About Echo

Echo Zhang studied Sociology at Jiangnan University. Before joining Sartorius in 2015, she worked in the supply chain management functions at Kodak for ten years.

Over the past six years, her team has more than tripled and has significantly contributed to the dynamic business growth in Asia by keeping the supply chain running even in the most challenging times. 


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