Nothing quite enriches a company like an international workforce. Research by the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation clearly shows that cultural diversity not only makes for a better work climate, it also strengthens a company’s innovativeness. Bechtle demonstrates this on both a small and large scale, with more than 10,000 employees from some 80 countries, 14 offices outside Germany and alliance partners around the globe opening doors to the rest of the world. But that’s just one side of it. Intercultural teamwork is also actively practised at Bechtle’s headquarters in Germany.
As part of her advanced studies on project management for graduates with migration backgrounds, Miji Ha is at Bechtle for a ten-week traineeship, working on the Windows 10 rollout.
Miji Ha first visited Germany during a three-month trip to Europe—and fell in love with the architecture. “Bad Wimpfen [in south-western Germany] is, in my opinion, the most beautiful city,” she says. “Its buildings are like something out of a fairy tale.” In September 2016, she came to Heilbronn to pursue a master’s degree in International Tourism Management and has decided to stay. While at Bechtle, she has noticed how casual and relaxed office culture is in Germany compared with South Korea. Back home, colleagues are addressed by their position and last name. “Here everyone is much less formal. It’s much less hierarchical.” She quickly dismissed the cliché of Germans as cold and unfriendly. “Everyone I’ve met during my studies and at Bechtle has been nice.” One special memory is of the first Easter she spent away from home. An acquaintance spontaneously invited her over for a barbecue and Easter egg hunt. She enjoys German food, especially Käsespätzle, a Swabian dish of home-made pasta smothered in cheese and often served with caramelised onions. Fittingly, she says her first German sentence was “I’m hungry.”
Magdalena Jonda works in Bechtle’s European Purchasing and Services department as the Country Portfolio Manager for Poland.
The Polish word for “software”, Oprogramowanie, is rather long and tricky to pronounce. Magdalena Jonda, who worked as a civil servant in accounting back home, had no previous experience in IT. But she finds her job at Bechtle interesujące—very interesting. “There’s always something going on. The IT industry is developing at a rapid pace.” When it comes to their leisure time, she finds that Germans take it much slower. “People here take more time to enjoy life. In Poland, everyone is always in a rush.” Another difference she mentions are the pretzels. German Laugenbrezeln have a characteristic dark-brown, chewy crust sprinkled with coarse salt. “Our pretzels are sweet, topped with poppy seeds or sesame.” When she visits friends back in Poland, she always packs an entire box of the German kind. She moved to Neckarsulm for love. “It was difficult at first—especially because of the language.” Polish, with its many “sh”-words, sounds less harsh than German. The first thing she learned was how to introduce herself: “Ich heiße Magdalena.” She says it didn’t take long for her to make friends in her new home. “Once a week, the girls from work and I eat lunch together in Bechtle’s piazza.”
Daniele Longo has been living in Germany for ten years. A cook by trade, he switched to the IT industry in 2009, joining Bechtle’s European Logistics department. Although he originally planned to stay in Germany for only two years, he soon found that “life is good here.”
Before he came to Neckarsulm, Daniele Longo saw Germany as a cold, grey and rainy place. He’s since come to realise that it can be quite sunny. The people are also more personable than popular perception would have you believe. “I was welcomed with open arms. It’s easy to start a conversation.” He spoke no German when he first arrived. Swabian, the regional dialect, was an even greater enigma. “When I was on the phone with a coworker who spoke Swabian, I would always ask them to follow up with an e-mail as well.” Besides the language, the biggest adjustment for Daniele Longo was getting used to a shorter lunch break. In Italy, workers take up to three hours for their pisolino—which translates into “nap”—returning to work around 3:30pm. “I’ll have a beer” was one of the first sentences he learned. Why? One of his first outings was to a Biergarten in Erlenbach with coworkers. German food still leaves him less than enthusiastic; he much prefers a plate of pasta for dinner. And Hawaiian pizza is one dish he can’t wrap his head around. “Why put fruit on a pizza?”
Carlos Barraza first joined the Bechtle Group while at university, taking a job at the ARP Europe subsidiary. He now works as a Digital Content Specialist in Neckarsulm.
“Me siento tranquilo y en paz,” is how Carlos Barraza describes his life in Germany. He feels calm and peaceful—in other words, he likes it there. In August 2018, he completed his master’s degree in International Business in Heilbronn, which has since become his new home. For Carlos Barraza, even small details can reveal fascinating cultural differences. “In Mexico, we love vibrant, warm colours like yellow and red. Germans prefer cool colours like green and blue.” In addition, business in Germany is governed by clear rules. In Mexico, customer relationships take precedence, which is why payment deadlines are sometimes extended. He was very surprised by Germans’ love of sunshine. “In Mexico, we’re always on the lookout for shade, whereas here everyone runs outside as soon as the sun shines.” Carlos Barraza is from the northern Mexican state of Sonora, home to one of the largest deserts in the world. It’s no wonder then that he enjoys the lush landscape of south-western Germany. “I’ve got everything I need here: good food, good friends and a great life.”
Bechtle update editorial team
Get the best from the Bechtle update every two months directly into your mailbox. Click here to register:
Published on May 28, 2019.