As a participant in the 2018 Employee Exchange Program, Patricia Fischer, Analytics Expert on the Business Intelligence (BI) team, spent time in APAC building relationships and spreading knowledge on a BI platform.
Introduced in August 2016, the BI platform is still relatively new. With users residing globally, it has been challenging to onboard users. According to Patricia, ‘Before spending time in the region on my exchange, all contact and trainings had happened only online.’
During her exchange, Patricia was able to conduct face-to-face training sessions in our production locations in Mumbai and Tianjin and our Sales offices in New Delhi, Shanghai, South Korea and Japan. She met with users to raise awareness about the overall benefits of BI reporting. Her mission was to heighten understanding in order to generate useful reporting.
Patricia explains, ‘My goal was to give an in-person introduction to the Business Intelligence team, meeting with all Business Warehouse users for a refresher training. Now that I am back in Germany, I can see the benefits. There is a lot more interaction between the BI team and APAC users. Also, when working on BI projects, I can understand the APAC view and anticipate their needs.’
Getting to know her colleagues in person, not just from mails or skype calls, was of tremendous value. She adds that, ‘Addressing and discussing issues and working on projects together is more effective and less difficult when you know how each other thinks and what the workload and daily tasks are.’
In addition to learning the similarities and differences of local processes and work styles, Patricia also embedded herself in the countries and cultures. She saw the program as a wonderful possibility to brighten her personal horizon and to become more open-minded. But she cautions ‘When applying, it is also important to consider if you are ready to take on this challenge. You spend several weeks in a completely different country and culture on your own and you have to communicate in a language which is not your mother tongue. To get the full exchange experience, it is really mandatory to be open for the difference. There were almost daily situations where I had to leave my comfort zone – but I did not regret it once.’
Leaving her comfort zone, Patricia tried almost all the offered food and decided afterwards if she liked it or not. In the East Asian countries, she ate all meals with chopsticks and after a few days even the dumplings and rice for breakfast were tasty. India was very busy, hot and loud – a stark contrast to Endingen area. But behind the chaos, she found an amazing manifold culture which absorbed her from the first moment.
In her words, the hospitality in the countries was outstanding. ‘In China, me and the other exchange employees were invited to dinner or weekend activities. In India, some colleagues invited me to their home and I was more than once astonished and taken aback by the friendliness and generosity. I experienced the same in China and South Korea. I had not met any of the employees there before, but they immediately included me and took care of me in a way which we in Europe can definitely learn from.’
Patricia continued, ‘I can only recommend this exchange program to all curious and open-minded colleagues. Since Oetiker is a global company, working in global teams, the exchange program is a very useful opportunity to see beyond one’s own nose, to get a comprehensive understanding of other Oetiker cultures, to improve global work processes and to add another jigsaw piece on the way to One Oetiker.’