Cultural Diversity – a Competitive Advantage

How people-oriented management leads to stable growth

Working at ZEISS

Suki has always been interested in how people with different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge exchange their ideas. Later in her working life she asked herself how a diverse and inclusive culture could help employees and employers to mutually benefit in a win-win situation. Seeing many Western companies coming to China, she wondered what challenges exist when trying to implement a global strategy with a local mindset. At ZEISS, all her questions turned into her daily challenges.

 

 

Right from the beginning, Suki worked for global companies. This is her DNA, she is a born cosmopolitan. She started her career in the dental industry, and she always liked her jobs. However, at some point, she felt something was missing. She knew she wanted to grow further, she knew she wanted to make a difference with her daily work, but how? One day, ZEISS dental approached her, and everything she learned about the new challenges ahead of her felt right. At a young age Suki learned German. She developed a deep understanding for the German culture and the way of thinking: Quality is king. She already knew that Germans were striving to technical perfection, delivering high quality products. She also heard that German companies foster the development of their employees from different backgrounds with a lot of care. So, it was an easy decision for Suki: She joined ZEISS and her adventure started.

 

 

Understanding others to reach a common goal

From day one, Suki knew she opted for a game changer in her life. “ZEISS has a clear career development system. It focuses not only on the development of the company, but also on the career planning of each employee. I have never seen this in any of the other companies I have previously worked for.” Suki was selected to participate in the Global Graduate Program, the so-called GGP. In the program which has a duration of 15 months, she has to perform within three cross-departmental, cross-sectoral and cross-regional rotations. Previously she had worked in the marketing team in China, currently being a member of the marketing team at the headquarters in Germany. Next she will join the sales team in the US to gain experience and skills by taking on new responsibilities. “Cross-regional and cross-functional tasks fascinate me and provide me with a precious opportunity to understand how other sectors in the group achieve our common goals on a global scale.” Suki’s responsibility was to mobilize other departments to form a joint endeavor with the aim to advance the same project. “It is important to coordinate with each department and participant. I need to look at issues from their perspective before analyzing and trying to convince them. That is a big challenge, to be honest.”

“Teamwork skills help to bring out the best in me”

Suki participated in the IDSExhibition in March 2019 for the first time as a local German employee. Every morning her colleagues met together to set goals and discuss the appropriate way to implement their tasks. This allowed her to understand why teamwork matters. “Previously I paid more attention to my own work. Now I am learning to support each other for better teamwork by trying to seek a balance between the two aspects.”

 

 

Understanding the market to make a meaningful difference

For Suki it was always clear that her work should be meaningful. Contributing to the improvement of her company and to her customers is a motivation that drives her. In the GGP she realized that this goal comes with challenges. “I think the biggest task for me is to understand the market as a whole. Professional technical knowledge is not hard to learn, but understanding a market has never been easy. I was quite familiar with the Chinese market, but when I joined the team in Germany, I found that I did not know much about the global market”, she admits. Without that knowledge, of course it is difficult for Suki to develop local strategies from a global perspective. The good news is, that she is never alone. Colleagues from various departments regularly provide her with help and advice, inspiring her to do better and be better in her projects. “Without these mentors, it may take me two to three years to understand my entire job role. But now with the help of the mentors and the global team, I can quickly gain the experience and insights in three to four months. I can’t wait to apply my new skills and insights in my future market work and see what difference I can make.”

 

At ZEISS Suki learned that by really trying to understand each other you can form a powerful team that is able to move mountains. No matter how difficult a task may be, with the help of caring people around it is possible to master any task.

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