You might think cultural training is only useful for people and businesses that are associated with global business - for example, international sales teams or global managers. You would be wrong! Raising cultural awareness is useful for everyone and anyone and has also proven to be very useful for companies in the packaging industry.
According to Jim Butschli, Features Editor at the website Packaging World, it is very important for the healthcare industry to have knowhow about global business communication. Medical devices, medicines and the like often have to be produced, packaged and shipped all across the globe. Nowadays, because of all the modern means of communication we have, communication in this supply chain is very easy. However, companies in the chain should be aware of cultural differences.
Bosch Packaging Technology, supplier of processing and packaging equipment, has found a way to tackle this problem. Martin Sternberg, head of Human Resources:
‘To ensure an efficient collaboration, intercultural competence is of great importance to everyone. This is about more than just different languages and time zones. Cultural differences also create chances and challenges in daily cooperation.’
Thus, the company offers its employees classes that give insight into foreign cultures to come to grips with these challenges.
The president of Bosch Packaging Technology, Friedbert Klefenz [above], stressed the importance of having a global presence at the Achema 2012 event in Frankfurt, Germany. At a press conference, he stated:
‘We can clearly benefit from the rapid development of emerging economies. But this will only succeed on a long-term basis if we are still there for our customers with support, maintenance, and service, after the machines are sold. In other words, we have to do everything we can to ensure our machines contribute to the success of our customers.’
According to Klefenz, passing on cultural knowhow is one way a company can enhance its success. Bosch regularly sends new trainees to foreign countries to raise cultural awareness and understanding. In a follow-up interview, Klefenz also stated that this investment comes with many benefits:
‘Our employees need to understand cultural differences and how they fit into our company’s philosophy… This training is unique and provides us with a big competitive difference.’
At the event, two employees of Bosch Packaging Technologies, Tanja Riegel and Thomas Mauritzen, shared their cross-cultural experiences.
Riegel works as a regional sales manager in Minneapolis, North America. Here, she tries to improve customer satisfaction by directing customer-related services. After her studies in Germany, she took an internship abroad and ended up in Minneapolis. After graduation, she returned to the city. According to Riegal, Bosch Packaging Technologies has the best cross-cultural programme of all the companies she has worked for. At first, she was worried about the cultural differences between Germany and the US, but Riegel feels Bosch prepared her very well for the transition:
‘The experience of living and working abroad for Bosch is a unique opportunity I would not want to miss. My personal horizon was broadened by thinking outside the box and by being more flexible and positive in my professional career… I received the chance to work and learn in quite a technical and male-dominated environment—and I would do it again.’
Thomas Mauritzen is a business development manager for Bosch Packaging Technology in North America. After he finished his studies, he got the opportunity to get involved in a three year international development programme at the company. For this programme, he had to spend one year in his homeland, the US, and two in Germany. Although he was a little scared to move to a country with a different culture, he loved to travel and saw the programme as a big opportunity.
‘Beyond the three-year trainee program, I stayed in Germany and continued working in Waiblingen as sales manager for capsule filling machines for another two years. The entire time in Germany was a continuous training session on how to adapt and succeed in a different environment.’
Mauritzen believes the intercultural training really helped him to adapt to working and living in Germany.
Bosch packaging technology does not only offer cross cultural experiences in the US, but collaborates with Asian countries such as Thailand and China as well to enable employees to get a taste of what work is like in foreign countries. However, this exchange also provides them with cultural awareness that will benefit them during the rest of their careers in the packaging community which is becoming more and more global.
Are you interested in cultural awareness training? We provide a range of bespoke cultural awareness course built and delivered around your company's specific needs. Why not have a look at some of our cross cultural courses?