By Brian White
As athletes from around the world prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, one company has already made a splash on the Olympic stage to become one of the top competitors in the PC industry.
Lenovo Group is China's largest personal computer manufacturer and fourth largest in the world market. In 2004, they fired out of the starting blocks by joining the Olympic Partner Program, which is the highest level of worldwide sponsorship for the International Olympic Committee. Lenovo's first Olympic experience occurred at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy where they provided product and support services. They will look to follow suit in 2008, playing an even bigger role in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Lenovo and other technology sponsors will provide over 10,000 pieces of computing equipment and 500 engineers to help distribute the results of more than 300 events in real time to audiences and media outlets worldwide. Lenovo was also fundamental in the design of the 2008 Olympic Torch.
Michael J. Mann, Lenovo's manager of Web Productions for China and India took the time to answer some questions from China.org.cn by email to talk about Lenovo, life in Beijing and the Olympics.
Q: What is your role as Manager of Web Productions in China and India?
A: I'm responsible for the web development/maintenance and quality for lenovo.com in Asia Pacific and EMEA (Europe-Middle East-Africa). From Beijing, we run all of our web development for AP, including local language support for Japanese and Korean. Out of Bangalore, India, we run our web development for most of our EMEA websites (we also have teams in Dublin, Ireland and London). I have about 60 people between Beijing and Bangalore running the sites.
Q: How long have you been in Beijing/Asia?
A: I've been living in Beijing since August 2006, which is when I started creating the Web Production Center here. I started the team in Bangalore in April 2007.
Q: How is your Mandarin?
A: My Mandarin...well, it's so-so. I studied for a few months when I first moved here (mainly to use in taxis/bars/restaurants), then stopped. I won't blame it on work; I really just wasn't that into studying it formally. I restarted my regular lessons a couple months ago and felt really interested in learning again. I'm finally seeing some real progress.
Q: How is life as an expat these days?
A: I have my days when I just want to pack up and head back to the U.S... I guess as a foreigner in any country, there are things that can really frustrate you. But overall, I really like it here and will be spending at least one more year in Beijing.
Q: How has Lenovo's sponsorship of the Olympics affected the company? Have there been any negative effects?
A: The Olympics sponsorship has allowed for a great coming out party for Lenovo. Starting with Turin in 2006, Lenovo began to introduce itself to the world. We're no longer known as "that Chinese company who bought IBM's PC Division." We're now becoming known for being a global company continuing to build on the ThinkPad heritage and introducing more new and exciting PCs. The Summer Games are going to be huge for Lenovo, not just here in China, but around the world. I wouldn't say there have been any negative effects, other than more work to go around for everyone!