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For his newest assignment as site manager with Houghton Fluidcare, Inc., Nick Harvey ’03 is working in Yantai, China, where he is responsible for improving Fluidcare’s operations at the Shanghai General Motors (GM) Dongyue plant, Shangdong province.

Fluidcare works on location with manufacturing companies to ensure that chemicals used in factory machinery such as coolants, hydraulic oils, quench oils, and rust preventatives are applied and disposed of properly. Handling fluid management allows a company like GM to focus on producing its product.

His father’s stories of exotic cultures from his own youthful travels inspired Harvey to seek an opportunity to work abroad after graduation. He joined Fluidcare, a division of Houghton International, hoping that he might get the chance. The company assigned him to the GM plant in Yantai after he demonstrated success as site manager at an SKF Bearing factory in Hanover, Pa.

Although he takes Mandarin Chinese classes at the local university, Harvey has had to rely on a translator for most of his business conversations. Even with his translator’s expertise, communicating technical information is difficult. Adapting to the culture has also presented special challenges. Harvey recalls when a nicely presented lobster was served to his table with a pile of its meat placed beside it. He didn’t realize the lobster was still alive until it snapped at him when he reached for a second helping.

Harvey believes that by the time he returns to the U.S., he will have added impressive credentials to his résumé and will be proficient in Mandarin Chinese at the business level.

“The work experience and managerial skills I will develop will be invaluable,” he says. “Hopefully, it will make me stand out from other people my age in this increasingly tough job market.”

A self-described subpar chemical engineering student at Lafayette, Harvey recalls the influence of Ricardo Bogaert-Alvarez, assistant professor of chemical engineering, who refused to give up on the struggling student.

“He kept giving me words of encouragement and told me that he thought I had great potential, and if I would just apply myself, I could accomplish anything,” he says. “As senior year came to an end, it looked like I might not graduate, and without his support, I certainly wouldn’t have. If Professor Bogaert had not seen potential in me and stuck up for me, I would not have the career that I have now.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles