Smash and Volley - Wacker Chemie AG


Smash and Volley

Before he came to WACKER, Cambridge Chang had never actually shown much interest in badminton, although he played some in school, as everyone in China does. But in 2004, when Jean-Lionel Gros, who was head of WACKER Greater China at the time, kick-started athletic activities at the Shanghai office, Chang was immediately on board and set about starting up a badminton team. “It really is a great team-building exercise,” says the polysilicon sales representative. “It’s great when everyone shares something and when sport brings people from completely different parts of the company together.”

Cambridge Chang (left) and as many as twelve WACKER colleagues from Shanghai attend badminton training twice a week.

Ten to twelve employees, including drivers, managers and the managing director’s assistant, train regularly and play Mondays at an indoor badminton facility in the eastern part of the city. On Thursdays the athletes meet for singles, doubles or mixed doubles at a school gymnasium in western Shanghai quite close to the WACKER office. The skill level is high – after all, badminton has a long tradition in China. “It’s like soccer in Europe,” Chang explains. “Even amateur teams there play better than a first-class Chinese soccer team. With badminton it’s the other way round.”

Chang’s colleague Jason Ye has since taken on leadership of the badminton team, organizing a match against customers at Unilever, for instance. “It’s a much better way of getting to know our customers than formal meetings are,” the sales manager explains. Winning comes second. Ye is proud of how well the Shanghai team performed in the first WACKER badminton tournament held in November in Shanghai. At this internal competition between the Nanjing, Zhangjiagang and Shanghai sites, the team was clearly able to hold its own.

As Chang points out, however, the fun that they have together is more important. The players spent an entire Saturday together, along with numerous assistants and even many spouses and children who had come to cheer the team on. Cambridge Chang played too. “Although I usually only play doubles. I'm not in good enough shape for singles,” says the 44-year-old with the elegant gold-frame glasses.

Chang also feels that the regular physical activity helps him in his job. “In the past two years when the polysilicon business wasn’t doing well and we were working day and night, sport was my saving grace,” he recalls. A badminton racket is propped up under his desk in the corner of his small office. “No matter how stressful things got, I would go play badminton for a couple of hours and that let me decompress. At home I would have done nothing but sit in front of the computer and pour over my numbers.”

For several months now, he has even been training with a professional coach in order to improve his smash and volley. His goal? “I’d like to be one of WACKER’s best badminton players,” he says with a laugh. This year he hopes he will at least be in good enough shape to play singles in the company tournament.