If we approach work with passion, teamship and love, we can become family. This is my Pantene team, photos from today and 15 years ago.

This group made up (most of) the Pantene team. These incredible women were patient as I learned the language, culture, and ways of working here at P&G, China. They brought joy, insight and laughter to the workplace and together, we created much mischief (and some pretty good business results)!

Reuniting last week was such a highlight! My husband got hugs all around too, because even back then, we integrated work and life. So, how did our team become so close-knit, remaining friends for 1.5 decades and counting?

  • We accepted each other. We saw each other’s faults but chose not to dwell. And we identified each other’s strengths, which we did our best to enhance.
  • We shared experiences, traveling together, carving out the time to consumer homes and retailers as a group. Sometimes, it’s the work-related learning that bonds us;  more often, it’s the human time – sitting at the airport when the flight is delayed, or sharing a late dinner at the hotel. Utterly priceless.
  • We made time and space for fun. And no one takes themselves too seriously. Last week we remembered silly pranks and laughed at my many cultural mishaps. This is more important than you might think! Click here for five elements of a fun workplace.

When we’re at our best, these things are not only true for our work teams, but with everyone in our lives! In China, we have the benefit of drivers and housekeepers. These precious people, too, become a part of our family.

While we were in Guangzhou last week, we also reunited with Mr. Fang, our very first driver from 2003.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | P&G | Mr. Fang Driver

Fifteen years ago, we had the privilege of naming his son, who’s now a 16 year old studying drone tech! Our cherished relationship with Mr. Fang is so special with us. We love him and consider him part of our family, same as Xiao Xie, our housekeeper of 7 years. Remember when she invited us to her home in Jinggangshan?

Going back to the Pantene dinner, I was thrilled that my daughter joined our dinner and observed a group of adults laugh until we cried, so deeply enjoying each other’s company as we reminisced and joked with one another. 

I hope Laini reflects on the admiration, respect and love, which was on display. I hope she understands that work relationships can become so much more. And that working together can create meaningful connections that last a lifetime.

Either way, she’ll have this photo, since she stood in for Summer, who wasn’t there!