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Attending to the needs of newly arrived expats

Iris Rona

Zhen Chen, ITER's newly appointed Staff Welfare & Assistance Officer. (Click to view larger version...)
Zhen Chen, ITER's newly appointed Staff Welfare & Assistance Officer.
For almost ten years she helped expatriates from France to settle in China. Now she will help the integration of ITER expats in France.

After finishing high school Zhen Chen, newly appointed Staff Welfare & Assistance Officer in the Human Resources Division, studied French in Bejing for four years and then worked at the renowned Alliance Française for two. To put her language skills to practice and get a taste of France and its cultural subtleties she then spent a year in Paris. 

And France has remained a leitmotif in Zhen's life ever since.

Back in Bejing she was asked to be part of the team that started up the Chinese subsidiary of Dalkia, a French company specialized in energy services. In 10 years Dalkia China, initially a small-scale company with just a couple of employees, grew into a full-scale operation of 1,700 people. Zhen played a key role in managing the human resources aspects of this rapid growth and the quick and efficient integration of many French expats in their new life and work.

Her experience in dealing with the challenges and needs of newly arrived expats will be very helpful at the ITER Organization, which is constantly managing new staff arriving from its Member states. In her newly created position within the Human Resources Division, one of her main responsibilities will be to set up a Staff Welfare Program, which will provide services to staff to help them improve their work-life balance. She will also work on a program to help newly arrived staff to quickly settle in and understand the ITER Project and its organization. 

Another important part of her job will be to manage the contacts between the ITER parents and the international school. In her new role, Zhen will work in collaboration and consultation with Agence Iter France's Welcome Office and the ITER Staff Committee.

And of course Zhen will be her own test case when it comes to experiencing first-hand what it is like to be new at ITER and in Provence. "So far, as a newcomer I find people at ITER very open and supportive," she says. "The multicultural atmosphere with all those different nationalities and their diverse perspectives makes for a very stimulating and instructive environment." Early next year Zhen's husband and four year old son will join her in Manosque to make her integration in Provence complete.


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