Name: Jeramie Bloom
Company: Trimera Group
Job Location: Shanghai, China
Current Job Title: Team Lead – Production; Sourcing Division
Duration at current employer: 8 months
MIM graduation date: August 2008
MIM: How did you find your current job?
JB: When I was in the MIM program, we had an AOP (Age of Pacific) lecture given by Tobin Guild from Nike and Amit Tal from Tefron. Tefron is an Israeli manufacturer of seamless garments and had offices on the Nike campus, which allowed them to shorten development and production lead times drastically. I had plans to move to Israel after graduation and the fact that Tefron was located in both Israel and Portland was exciting, as was the my interest in the garment industry. I contacted Amit Tal directly and requested an informational interview. They did not have any openings at the time, but I was persistent and contacted Amit on a monthly basis to touch base. After graduation, I moved to Israel where I was in contact with the Tefron factory office there. Still, they did not have any openings that interested me so I was spent my time learning Hebrew and managing a restaurant. After six months, I returned to Portland and within a month I received a call from Amit. He needed an executive assistant. The entire process from first contact to the first day of work took nearly one-and-a-half years and it was completely worth it.
While I was not necessarily interested in the executive assistant position, it gave me an opportunity to learn the business at an executive level and was the “in” that I needed. The apparel industry can be very difficult to break into. After roughly six months of working as Amit’s executive assistant and office manager, I was given the opportunity to move into the position of Business Development Manager. This was the real springboard for my career.
MIM: Is there anything you would like to share about interviewing for a job?
JB: The most critical thing to remember is that even when an interview does not result in a job, you are still making a contact. I was persistent, honest, and flexible which ultimately led to my success.
MIM: Is your current job in line with your previous work experience or is this a career change?
JB: Prior to entering the MIM program, my career objectives were not explicitly laid out. I knew that there were two industries that I was interested in entering — apparel and confectionary (candy business). To work in the confectionary business I would have most likely needed to live in Middle America where most of the manufacturing takes place, which was not appealing to me. However, apparel thrives in the largest cities in the world and was extremely exciting to me.
The next step was finding a suitable position within the industry. The MIM program exposed me to a myriad of subjects of which I could drill down on during the specialization portion of the program. I chose to specialize in supply chain and logistics because I really enjoy the process of manufacturing and the associated problem solving tactics (How It’s Made is one of my favorite shows J). With this knowledge and a love for fashion and apparel, my career really fell into place. And now I can say that I am exactly where I would have hoped to be.
MIM: How do you think the MIM program helped you get your job and/or how do you think the MIM program helps you in your current position?
JB: In September 2010, I started as a Project Manager with Trimera Group, a Montreal-based apparel holding firm. The company had begun to take on American customers and manufacture for them in China. The Company had an existing office in China, but did not have management that fully understood both our customers’ culture as well as the Chinese culture and could liaise between them. Considering that I had an education in international business and spoke Chinese made me the perfect candidate. Consequently, in March of this year, I was relocated to China to manage these accounts. The MIM program gave me both the macro skills in business as well as the micro skills in supply chain management and Chinese culture to be successful in this role.
MIM: What is your job like on a daily basis?
JB: I manage the development and production process of apparel manufacturing for multiple customers for both seamless and cut and sew garments. This includes sourcing factories, factory selection based on capabilities, sampling based on initial customer specs, pre-production prototyping, bulk production, and logistics.
I meet with my development and production teams on a daily bases, insuring that time and action plans are on track and that all customer inquiries are responded to in a timely manner. I also work to solve manufacturing problems by soliciting expert advice when necessary and acting as a liaison between the customer and the factory. I am continuously sourcing new factories and creating and fostering factory relationships. While we currently have a very strong factory base, it is imperative that we are always looking to source garments in the most efficient and cost-sensitive locations with the best partners.
MIM: Please tell us about any traveling that your job requires.
JB: I travel on a weekly basis. Quite often I am on day trips to factories that are only a few hours away by train. However, this month I went to Hong Kong to visit a customer and I went to Guangzhou for the Canton Trade Fair, the largest trade show in China. Travel consists of roughly 25-40 percent of my total work time.
MIM: What do you really love most about your job, position or company?
JB: I am a very personable and outgoing person. Therefore, I absolutely love traveling to meet with factories or customers directly. Spending face-to-face time creates an intimacy with partners that cannot be accomplished by email. It absolutely helps the business run smoother and you can better understand each other’s intent and unsaid implications.
MIM: What can you tell us about your relocation to Shanghai?
JB: Moving to Shanghai has been fantastic. So far the process has been relatively easy and smooth. I have enough Chinese under my belt to get around from day to day, and having Google Translate on my iPhone helps a ton! I am the only westerner in my office, so I spend lunch with my local co-workers every day. This has really helped my Chinese get stronger and I become more integrated into the culture every day.
I think the best thing about living in China is the expat community. Shanghai is the hub for all sorts of interesting people from different walks of life, all of which are very successful and adventurous in their own right. All of the expats are far from home, which creates a sort-of “community” here. Everyone is very welcoming and sweet. I have found over the years that the hardest part of moving to a new country is creating a support system and good friends. In Shanghai, meeting good people was as easy as ordering a beer.
MIM: What do you hope for your future career plans?
JB: I plan to live in Shanghai for at least a few more years and I absolutely love the industry so I have no intent on changing anything. My role here is new and exciting every day and I am enjoying the challenges of living and working in China. However, if the opportunity to move somewhere new in the world presents itself, I would absolutely entertain the idea.
MIM: What do you think is your most valuable take-away from the MIM program?
JB: Global perspective. During the MIM program I learned what it was to be a global citizen and to evaluate the world from that viewpoint. I believe growing up in Portland, Oregon has many advantages, but it tends to keep your line of sight very narrow. This new outlook helps me to look for opportunities outside of what my normal comfort zone would have been. I would have never imagined in a million years that I would someday be living in China, and here I am!
MIM: What is your favorite memory of the MIM program?
JB: Wow, so many — hard to choose. Well, of course the Asia Trip was outstanding, but my favorite memory is of Bryan McCarthy’s marketing class. We did a simulated marketing strategy game where each team had to design, market, and sell computers. At the end of the term, we had to do a complete marketing presentation with a radio commercial, TV ad, and gorilla marketing plan, etc. Our team was called Tiger Tek and we completely got into it, one of our team members even had an 80’s sequin tiger jacket that became forefront in our brand design. If I may say so, myself, it was a stellar presentation. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the simulation…