Dr. Jens Rafaelsen, Applications Engineer, EDAX
As I write this I am on my way back to the US after having spent the past week in Singapore with my schedule filled with meetings and training sessions with both local microscope vendors and for customers, and discussions with the EDAX sales and applications people from China, India and Singapore. A good amount of time was spent discussing detector specifics and how to really make the advantages of our silicon nitride window and Elite detectors shine, but there was also general knowledge transfer and comparison between the challenges that we see in the different regions.
Singapore is definitely a change from the east coast of the United States, with the tropical climate and architecture including a sky-rise hotel with a ship parked on top, buildings with the exterior designed to look like the shell of the Durian fruit, or giant steel tree structures in the middle of the city park. But it is also a central hub where we have one of our regional offices and a state that invests heavily in the knowledge industry.
While the primary reason for my trip was the training of our local team and introduction of new and up-coming projects and software features, I also wanted to gather input and knowledge to bring back to our main office in Mahwah. Often we get so used to what we see every day that we forget that there’s a whole world out there. What we in the US think should be the major focus can be of less interest in other regions and vice versa. One of the things I learned was that the Asia/Pacific region sees a larger proportion of operators being technicians with limited insight into the advantages and limitations of the technique, than we usually do in the US and Europe. At the same time the microscope vendors were impressed with the level of analysis and how powerful the TEAM
Although we have conference systems, phone meetings and e-mail, there’s definitely something to be said for meeting face to face. The discussions and interactions flow much more easily when we can actually point to the same thing on the screen, draw on a piece of paper or just chat over coffee. Of course it can be a little overwhelming to come back to the hotel after a long day and find an overflowing inbox when you open the computer (not to mention getting calls at 3 AM from people who aren’t aware that you are travelling), but this is easily compensated by the experience of the culture, local food, and the chance to catch up with colleagues. Who knew that fried fish skin with salted egg goes so well with a cold beer?
With my Singapore trip over, I am making my way through the 24-hour travel back to the US and I have time to contemplate the experiences and discussions that I have had during the past week. There’s plenty of data to analyze, ideas for new software features, and input from microscope vendors to consider, but all that will have to wait. For now, it’s time to catch some sleep, try to get back on east coast time and maybe not worry about the line at immigration and New York traffic till I actually have to deal with it!