Switching Roles from Client to Employee: Lavender Zhang
Employee Spotlight—Lavender Zhang
VP Business Development—Greater China
Where did you grow up and where did you go to school?
I grew up in Taiyuan, Shanxi province in China. That’s 500 km southwest of Beijing. As a kid playing happily in the playground, I was always told that there was a sea of coal underneath my feet. And when we would build a snowman in winter, the brightest things were his two eyes made of—you guessed it— coal.
I left my hometown to study English Literature at Nanjing International Relation University. After working for a number of years in Shanghai, where I am currently based, I obtained an MBA from Shanghai International Study University. In addition, I got a PMP® (Project Management Professional) certification in 2020.
How did you get into the amusement industry?
When I was a kid, every time we went to an amusement park, I would be pulled away by the adults before I was ready to leave. I loved being there, so I thought, wouldn’t it be great to work at an amusement park every day? It was a dream come true when I got an internship in Shenzhen at Window of the World, which is the oldest theme park in China and run by OCT. After graduation, I joined OCT Shanghai from the very beginning of the theme park planning.
How did you go from WhiteWater’s client to WhiteWater’s employee?
While Phase 1 at OCT Shanghai was the Happy Valley theme park, Phase 2 was the Maya Playa Waterpark. I was the project manager for OCT, and we had such an amazing collaboration with WhiteWater. When the expansion project was over, WhiteWater approached me about working for them. Even though my manager at OCT was sad to see me go, he congratulated me on going to a good company. So, I joined WhiteWater in late 2014.
What do you like about your job?
One of the best things about being at WhiteWater is the opportunity to work with the top experts in our field. We are all passionate about offering the safest and the most fun rides, so it’s a fabulous feeling to see the clients fulfill their goals through our services and be deeply appreciated by them.
I also enjoy serving as a bridge between China and Canada, facilitating the cultural understanding in terms of client needs, commercial practices, and even the pace at which Chinese businesses work.
What were some of your most memorable projects at WhiteWater?
There were two: one very large and one very small.
The Spinning Rapids Ride at Shanghai Haichang Polar Ocean Park is one of largest of its kind in the world. It was a challenge to win this project because we faced several strong competitors. Thanks to great teamwork, we won the bid, and we executed the project to the highest standards. The result is guests to this day are willing to stand in a two-and-a-half-hour line to experience this ride. For many guests, when the gates of the park open in the morning, they run straight to the Spinning Rapids Ride!
The second most memorable project was the 1,000 m2 water play area inside the Hello Kitty theme park near Shanghai. Because we had such a trustful relationship with the client, we were able to design the space and supply an AquaPlay structure, spray toys, and Life Floor. It was the first time Life Floor was installed in China, and it demonstrated to Chinese clients how safety in a water play area can be implemented.
What do you do outside of work?
I love going to museums and art galleries with my husband and son; we have explored almost every museum in Shanghai. While filling my heart with magical colours, being immersed in art also allows me to see things in different perspectives and change my points of view. Seeing art also enriches my perception of theme parks and water parks.
What is something people are surprised to learn about you?
I am worse at math than my 7-year-old son! Oh, and I used to be a singer and guitarist in a punk rock band in university.