11 years ago, Greg Yuan Guan, China Business Development Manager – Ocean and Logistics Nigeria, relocated from China to West Africa. Before that Greg had never traveled outside of Asia . Today he has visited more than 30 countries, learned to speak French, and has made friends from all over the world.
Why did you move to Africa?
In 2010, Maersk assigned me a business travel in Africa to manage a giant project. Before that, I’ve already worked in Maersk China for 5 years. I stayed in Zinder, Niger for 4 months to complete the project. In 2011, 8 months after I finished the project in Zinder, the Africa Regional office approached me and provided a one-year work opportunity in Niger. I accepted the offer after careful evaluation. Later, in 2012 I relocated to Cameroon and to Nigeria in 2019 where I am still based.
Did you have concerns about moving away from the country you grew up in?
I’ve never visited a place outside of China until I was 27 years old. You could imagine the inner fight I had when this opportunity to work in Africa arose. My father, a music teacher, however encouraged me to take this challenge: “You would be unlikely to move afterwards, if not now, as you would soon reach the age of marriage” he said. Even though I’m the only child in the family, my father still pushed me to see a bigger world as he believed I would regret not to do so.
What is the best experience you have had as an expat?
I have had so many good experiences in the past 11 years as an expat. I have visited more than 30 countries, I have learned to speak French, and I have made international friends. But the most beautiful one is that I met my wife in Cameroon, build my own family and settled down in Africa. We have two lovely daughters now (8 and 5 years old) and we speak four languages at home (my wife is from South Korea). You won’t believe that in the beginning both of us could only communicate with parents-in-law by tons of smiles and google translate. It was a lot of fun.
What makes you proud to work at Maersk?
Africa is now moving toward a golden opportunity to leapfrog the industrial development, which has been sluggish for some decades. In recent years, I’ve observed numerous Chinese investors come to Africa to build up new factories. From furniture to beverage, from diapers to vehicles, the production cover various sectors. With a dominant position in West Africa, Maersk has always been selected as the most reliable logistics partners, to import equipment and raw materials, afterwards export the manufactured goods. The industrialization plays a key role in achieving economic development and social goals on health, education, and well-being. I am very proud that I can contribute with my knowledge and expertise to bring prosperity to Africa.