Archive for June, 2005

Thursday June 30, 2005

June 30, 2005 - 5:19 am 4 Comments

*Gasp* I managed to do something I¡¦ve never done well.


Seamus, the CRM department chair, is leaving for a more lucrative position within Taishin. As a result, the entire department has been divided into small groups to put on little skits. The head of data mining recorded all the little skits onto video.


So¡Kas Lauren, Grace, and just about everyone on the planet can attest, I am terrible at skits. Somehow, however, I figured I might as well put my pride on hold and just do it. I rationalized that in some sense, I might be able to win some favor with my co-workers. Anyway, because I over-performed (put those stupid dramatic airs I sometimes get to practical use), I got assigned all the heavy-duty comedic aspects. Of course, this involved ¡§killing¡¨ a bear, running into a door, and doing a dramatic ¡§don¡¦t go¡¨ scene.


It was quite embarrassing! Everyone kept on laughing, so I had to keep re-filming. In fact, I did each of the three sequences at least four times, which it made worse.


The odd thing is, it was actually kind of fun.

Thursday June 30, 2005

June 30, 2005 - 12:09 am 1 Comment

What a disappointment! My formerly idyllic summer plans experienced a significant hitch today, and I’m in the process of reconstruction.


I woke up early and prepared to go to the orientation session at Shi-Da. After meeting the director and watching a short video introducing the language and culture class opportunities, I was so excited to start! With over 1200 international students from over 120 countries, Shi-Da hosts the largest Mandarin Training Center in all of Taiwan, allowing them to offer special classes and to tailor classes to each individual’s Chinese language ability.


Since I get off of work at 5.30 and it takes around one hour to get to Shi-Da by public transportation, however, I am only available to take the night class time from 6.30 to 8.30 pm. The problem is – the night classes are all at the elementary level, designed for students who don’t speak, understand, write, or read Chinese. My level, on the other hand, is the elementary level for overseas Chinese, meaning focused on reading and writing.


I spoke with the director for a bit, and decided that it would be a better idea to get a refund and see whether I can find some similar programs elsewhere. Although they won’t be as “accredited” as Shi-Da, I’m sure they will suffice.


In fact, I know a lot of elementary school students go to bu3 shi2 ban1, kind of like an after-school supplementary class. These classes start late and run quite long into the night. I figure, since my Chinese language ability is somewhere around that level, maybe it would be an authentic way to get some intensive writing and reading practice. What do you think?


Well, I’m back at work now. It feels odd walking into the office at 12.00 pm instead of my usual 8.00. After navigating the Taiwan public transportation labyrinth, I finally arrived…of course, after 2 metro transfers, 2 public bus transfers, and a short five minute walk.

Wednesday June 29, 2005

June 29, 2005 - 4:45 am No Comments

I’ve gotten so adapted to Taiwan that the weeks have been passing so quickly – one month has already expired and the speed of my life keeps accelerating. Everyday is a new adventure! Not only is the work fulfilling, but I love the excitement that comes with exploring an exotic, bustling city. Yesterday night, I walked around the Shi-lin night market district to find a bookstore that would sell the July issue of “Myojo” magazine. Since my wonderful little sister requested this special issue featuring Kat-tun, I had no greater desire than to fulfill her wish, even if it took me through three different bookstores. Yes, little sister, Myojo magazine has a really large color spread featuring the members of Kat-tun, complete with a large poster of Jin and Kame as well as the infamous picture. Grace, if you have anything else you want, you can count on your older sister tracking it down for you!


After finding the highly coveted magazine, I leisurely strolled through the night market. Since I wasn’t particularly hungry because I ate a delicious and filling lunch consisting of Taiwanese-style noodles, I focused on shopping. When mother gets here, we’ll go trinket shopping together. I feel I need an expert opinion in order to buy some of the more style-conscious items. Since I really needed a pair of sneakers urgently, however, I stopped by a famous sports shop and bought a pair of Puma sneakers. Because they kept messing up my size (gave me a size 9, 8, 7.5 before finding the 7), I had a chance to chat a bit with the store helper, dressed in this pitiable gaudy orange uniform.


I walked back to my place of residence and ate bread with apples. For now, I’m going to be careful and eat just one good meal a day with a bland meal acting as a cushion. I’ve learned that food is really important to culture and social interaction in Taiwan.


I’ve been putting the final touches to my presentation on Customer Lifetime Value. This Friday, I’ll be presenting in front of the data mining group, then the entire CRM department, and then to the senior management team. Along the way, I’ll be getting feedback. To be honest, this performance metric is really hard to mathematically model. I’ve struggled with reams of academic financial literature, and organized the presentation to the best of my ability. In addition, Taishin has actually supplied me with the numbers used for the CLV calculation and has asked me to go ahead and do it. Considering that I’ve never had finance before, this will certainly be a challenge – CLV has been one of the most difficult metrics to calculate for any bank, and I’ve gotten the responsibility to spearhead the shift.


My mentor admitted that this topic is pretty important to them, considering that they have absolutely no experience whatsoever with calculating CLV. She also admitted that it would probably take a lot longer for someone else in their department to do the report. As a result, I know that my recommendations and my suggested models will have a very direct practical application.


Please, if you are interested in seeing my CLV presentation, do not hesitate to contact me. I would like as much feedback as possible!


Alright – so everyone commented on Sean. I’ll add a few modifications. After every presentation, the presenter usually asks us whether we have any recommendations or what US banks do. Since I do my research beforehand, I always have a few of my original suggestions as well as a few indicators of US best practices. Throughout the presentation, I ask a lot of clarification and critical analysis questions to make sure I understand the material, which is difficult because of its financial nature and even more so because of the Chinese language barrier. Sometimes when I ask, these questions come out really poorly because of language difficulties. Nevertheless, if anything my father said has ever sunk in, it would be the importance of asking questions and getting yourself interested in the material. During this time, Sean is falling asleep because he went to bed the day before at 4 AM after getting really drunk and clubbing. Today, he relished in telling me how he lost 8 wan4 (80,000 NT dollars = approximately 2500 US dollars) playing poker the night before.


On a side note, I underwent training with Business Unit III today, which supports the high-margin products that cater to the VIP segment, which consists of customers who have more than $90,000 US value in Taishin. To better serve these fickle customers, Taishin has a bunch of special products in addition to the “frills” of tailored service and the snotty Mega-lounge at the main branch. 


Sean’s family is rich. Everyone who graduates from the Taipei American School is pretty much very rich, and according to Sean, snotty about it. He himself admits that he’s prone to be a little snobby when money affairs arise. In fact, he told me it was something that he wanted to change about himself.


Anyway, so everyone at this bank is under the impression that I come from a very rich family. In fact, this notion has been too common throughout my entire visit to Taiwan. In reality, my family isn’t rich at all, but we know how to enjoy life, to take advantage of opportunity, and to make the most of our experiences together. The guy who is in charge of the VIP segment asked Sean and me [surprisingly, more to me than to Sean, probably considering he fell asleep during training], “Since you come from a VIP-status family, what do you think should be done to better cater to your class? After all, we the common folk wouldn’t know as well as you.”


Talk about a loaded question.