Published on November 13th, 2019 | by Subhash Nair


What’s Working in Proton Like for a Chinese National?

It’s weird to think that Proton has been in partnership with Geely Auto for one and a half years already. But on the other hand, the effects are already being felt. For the first time in a long time, the brand is pushing ahead of Toyota and Honda in terms of sales, the brand has more 3S and 4S dealerships than most other brands. I mean, it’s a good time to be Proton, even if they insist their work is not done.

And while we know a lot of Malaysians were involved in turning the brand around, the Chinese white-collar workers must also be credited for bringing much needed expertise and experience to the company. Proton thought it would be educational for Malaysians to get to know one of these senior staff members from China. So, here’s the full interview transcript, mildly edited from Proton about their Deputy Director of Network Planning, Mr. Zhang Qiang.


  1. Introduce yourself. How long have you been working in Malaysia

    I have been working here for the past 18 months.
  2. Where did you work, before you joined PROTON?

    Before I joined PROTON, I was working in Dongfeng Automotive Corporation in China.
  3. When you first knew that you will be working in Malaysia, what were your first thoughts?

    I actually feel very happy and proud. Happy because I got the opportunity to expand and establish my career overseas, and proud because I was selected from a highly talented pool from the China automotive industry to work in another country based on my expertise.
  4. What is it like working in Malaysia? How different is it from China?

    I find that there are more similarities than differences. For example, in any organisation, we need people who work with integrity, have respect for one another, are transparent, and always striving to deliver quality work. So the fundamental expectations are not that different, if we compare country to country. However, I also realised that every country is unique in its own ways. Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, hence things work differently here. The most important thing is to accept the differences and adapt to what works best and assimilate with the country’s culture. It is about adopting best practises from each country to deliver best results and to increase performance.
  5. What do you do in PROTON? What does your day-to-day job entail?

    As I work in Network Support, Planning and Development department, naturally my work is focused on these 3 key areas.

    As a team, we are continuously developing and establishing outlets to meet the standard operations, aside from coaching the management and staff of these outlets in terms of daily operations. These initiatives are important, as a good outlet will be able to improve sales and service, in addition to increasing profit for the company. An outlet with a strong and solid management team will surely help to boost staff morale to be more productive and efficient workers.

    Besides this, we are also regularly working alongside various departments in PROTON like, Sales, Corporate Sales, After Sales, International Sales and many others. We gather data, perform analysis, identify issues and we discuss frequently to find workable solutions. All this are done, to ensure a seamless business process in the company.
  6. Being in Malaysia so far, what are the Malay words that you have picked up?

    I am still learning new words each day, but pardon me, there are only a few that I know currently and I am honestly trying to learn new ones each day, without much success, of course! But I am constantly learning, so I am confident in a few more months I will be able to expand my Malay vocabulary.

    For the moment, I know Terima Kasih (thank you), Makan (eat), Tidur (sleep), Bagus (good)
  7. How are you adapting to life in Malaysia so far?

    I am feeling good. Malaysia is a very nice, peaceful country, with nice, friendly people. The weather is great and I find that the longer I stay, the experiences gets better.
  8. What do you think about Malaysian food? And what would you recommend your friends to try out (foods to try out) if they visited you here?

    Well Malaysia has a lot of choices when it comes to food. It is hard to keep your weight in check if you work here. There are so many kinds of delicacies. You can find almost all kinds of food here. There are Malay, Indian as well as Chinese food, so finding food that I like is not too difficult. However, due to work, I have not been able to taste all the local cuisines. But I really like durians and satay, so I will surely recommend these when my friends come over.
  9. What do you like most about Malaysia?

    I like the food, the environment, the buildings I see, the streets that I walked on, but most importantly I like the people here. Malaysians are friendly, likeable and sincere.
  10. What is the one advice you would like to share with others, who are starting their work journey in a foreign country like Malaysia?

    There is a saying in Malay language, which my colleague recently taught me – tak kenal maka tak cinta – literally translated to mean; if you don’t take the time to know something, how then would you learn to like it.

    So I would strongly encourage those coming to work here, to have an open mind, to go out and mix with other Malaysians and participate in the local celebrations. There is so much to explore. This is where one can witness and find the beauty of Malaysia.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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