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Early adopter of technology and trends

SwedCham China’s Young Professional Award winner Michelle Qin, head of H&M’s online marketing in China and its Tmall platform, writes about her upbringing in Sweden and her early interest in technology and fashion.

TEXT: Michelle Qin
6 NOVEMBER, 2018

Michelle Qin together with her colleague Magnus Omstedt.

It is Tuesday, five minutes to midnight on 20 March 2018, and we are about to launch H&M on Tmall. I find myself slightly nervous, which doesn’t happen that often, but I try to stay calm in front of everyone. This is it –failure is not an option!

My name is Michelle Qin and I was born in China around 30 years ago, but raised in Sweden from the age of one by my Chinese parents.

I believe my upbringing is pretty similar to any overseas Chinese, meaning Sunday Chinese lessons and extra home mathematics schooling. At a young age, I disliked taking the extra lessons and preferred to play with the other kids or to chat online (yes, I was online at quite a young age). At that time, I had no clue what advantages it would bring to me later in life.

When my friends at school were off on sailing camps and Mallorca trips, my summers were mostly spent in mega-humid Shanghai. At that time, my family and friends in Shanghai were all jealous of the digital gadgets I brought from Sweden. My cousins were not allowed to play any games on their parents’ phones but I had my very own. As time went by, this was to change. My cousins started to purchase all the latest cool stuff on Taobao – and at bargain prices! Suddenly, all I wanted was to open my own account as soon as possible.

At a young age, I disliked taking the extra [tutorial] lessons and preferred to play with the other kids or to chat online.”

My curiosity for China grew and in 2008 I decided to leave Sweden to explore what the East had to offer. I ended up working as a stylist and fashion editor for a magazine and one of the first e-commerce platforms for streetwear in China. I had always been interested in fashion but that’s when I first started to want to learn how to combine technology and fashion.

After my studies and everything I had experienced in China, I pursued a career in the digital fashion world. I ended up in the very south of the Bavarian countryside working for Adidas, which at that time was one of the leaders in the e-commerce and digital fields. I was so hungry for new knowledge that I spent my free time learning to master basic HTML and CSS coding rather than going to bars with my colleagues.

The journey didn’t end there. It took me to the north of Spain and then all the way back home to Sweden and to H&M, where I have been working for four years – still, of course, in the digital field. For the past six years I have been focused on China and digital developments there. Finally, I can call China my home – a place where the future of e-commerce and digitalisation is happening.

The launch of H&M on Tmall was fortunately a success, and I am very proud of what I and my team accomplished. I am very honoured to receive the award as this year’s Young Professional, and I would like to share the honour with my brilliant co-workers who made this happen. Thank you!