Cultural diversity for mutual understanding
A diverse cultural background of team members can help to harmonize processes as well as to develop a mutual understanding.
This at least proves the story of two Henkel colleagues who started their careers at Henkel’s Shared Service Center in Bratislava as a stepping stone for an international career path.
It was an important factor for Radka that Henkel is an international company, but her main motivation for joining the Shared Service Center was the opportunity to be part of the newly created purchasing department. She relished the prospect and opportunity of shaping and developing the services and related processes. Radka started as a Purchasing Assistant supporting transactional purchasing activities for Direct and Indirect Materials in Western Europe. After eleven months, she became a Purchasing Expert for tools, systems and processes for the region. In 2011, Radka took over the Team Lead position of the Transactional Team for Direct Materials for Western Europe and Central Eastern Europe.
Radka’s skills and performance attracted the attention of her superiors. She was given the opportunity to move to Scottsdale, USA, to work as a member of the Global Purchasing Operations team. In Arizona, Radka is now even closer to the teams that she supports. Radka’s move not only works in one direction: Until her arrival in April this year there was no expert in Scottsdale. Now, given Radka’s in-depth experience in this field, she is able to assist and make a positive impact on the teams locally. Her extensive experiences working on processes in Europe, which are now also being implemented in the USA are of great value to her new colleagues. Although she is aware that the processes will not necessarily work in the same way as in Europe, her expertise and the newly gained insight into the daily business of the purchasers, will be useful to adjust the tools and processes accordingly.
“I was excited to look at things from a different perspective and I knew that it would be a great learning experience,” Radka commented. “Now I gain first-hand information on what our supplier’s need and the issues they face on a daily basis. I see what is working well or what doesn’t and I can relay that back to our Shared Service Center.”
Pavol’s motivation for joining Henkel was very clear. He wanted to work for a global company where he could use his language skills on a daily basis – in particular his French. When he joined the department of controlling and product costing (COPC), he took over the responsibility for activities in Tunisia, Belgium and Algeria. Shortly after becoming a process expert for product costing at the beginning of 2011, Pavol joined the Aqua project team and took over the responsibility for the monthly controlling and accounting closures in France. When Pavol was offered the opportunity to move to Parisand join the local controlling organization as a junior controller for Cosmetics retail he did not think twice. In the Shared Service Center Pavol was already working closely with his French colleagues in the controlling team, but since he moved to Parisin July 2011, he feels even more connected to the business. Pavol not only brought with him the inside knowledge of the processes implemented in the Shared Service Center but also the personal relationships with the people in Bratislava. This was a tremendous benefit for his colleagues in Parissince he was able to facilitate the communication between local controlling and Bratislava. Thus, it is no surprise that the cooperation has improved quickly and both sides now have a better understanding of the daily work of their counterparts and the issues they are facing.
“I will definitely benefit a lot from the experience I gained in Paris. But it is not only a win-win-situation for me. I am confident that, when I go back to Bratislava in a few months’ time, the cooperation between Paris and Bratislava will improve even further,” is Pavol’s mid-term report about the time he spent abroad.
Radka’s and Pavol’s stories are perfect examples how consciously selected and included aspects of diversity improve the overall team performance and support a corporate culture of mutual respect and mutual understanding.