At home, Rebekah Lemm and her husband Christoph have two children – Alexander (12) and Saskia (7). In the professional world, she is climbing up the corporate ladder. She and her family moved to Shanghai 18 months ago for an opportunity to serve on the senior management team at Intralox – a company that provides innovative solutions to manufacturing and logistics companies all over the world. From a young age, Rebekah has lived in various places around the world. Here she tells us a bit about her work and family life in Shanghai.
Give us your 30-second blurb about your career.
I’ve been with Intralox for more than 23 years, which is something I had never expected. But it’s a unique environment since we have a merit-based culture, where ideas, integrity and contribution matter. At Intralox, I’ve been able to find the best in myself and in others. Currently I hold the position of Asia Pacific general manager at our Shanghai office.
Have you always wanted to work and live abroad?
Honestly, I really don’t know any other life. I have a US passport, but was born and raised by missionary parents in South America (Bolivia and Colombia). We moved to the US when I was almost 15 and I finished high school there but continued to travel. Early in my career I was working on the Intralox sales team in Mexico before moving to Amsterdam, our EMEA headquarter. I was there for 15 years before moving to Shanghai.
I guess you could say I’m a global nomad – my life and my work have always involved travel; I get restless when I stay in one place too long.
‘[My kids] are terrific thinkers and they fascinate me’
How do you balance work and home life?
To me, these are fully integrated; it’s all just life. My husband and I are equal partners and that makes all the difference. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found someone who understands and accepts that I’m not the wife who cooks dinner every night. We each handle what we are best at and we have been fortunate to find wonderful people to help us with the rest. So far, it’s all working out!
What are the best and worst things about working in China?
I think China is incredible and anything is possible here. It’s a country with so many layers and so many dichotomies, trying to understand it politically, economically, and culturally could take a lifetime. But the best thing about China to me is the people. I have come to know some of the most incredibly warm, deep, loyal, hard working, joyful and ethical people I have ever known in my life. There’s been an immediate trust.
The worst things with kids are the concerns about air pollution and food safety. I hope these issues will become a priority on the national agenda and will improve soon.
What do you enjoy doing with your spare time?
Spare time? Seriously, the thing I enjoy most is talking to my kids – seeing how they think, what they are learning, who they are becoming. They are terrific thinkers and they fascinate me. I also recently took up triathlons. I signed up for a half Iron Man competition in Xiamen in November, so making time to train will be important in the coming months.
If you could tell your 25-year-old self anything, what would it be?
Embrace the opportunities that terrify you most.