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.