Tag Archives: career

International work in an international world. Part III: Why a Blue Card could be your ticket to a new life

Since the moment I saw a lady in the German Embassy in Russia getting her working visa so easily, I also wanted to get one. At least, to feel the same respect she was treated with. Of course, she has been invited by one of the largest international companies, which are looking for smart people for specific projects all over the world. Just one year later, I became a Blue Card holder with the Germany as my first destination. But what does this Blue Card actually mean?

  • Working where you wish. There are countries with a high unemployment rate and with the low ones. Countries with a high employment rates like Germany are focused on attracting the best experts in technical, medical and innovative fields, which leads to a more open visa regime. In other countries like Italy, the unemployment rates are higher. If you are a foreigner from a non-EU country, the Blue Card if your pass to work in Europe and to change employers and countries in a very flexible way, as long as you meet the BC conditions.
  • Taking your family with you. The Blue Card holders are often highly skilled professionals who are be found by large companies and offered a contract in the EU. Even though it is usually a limited contract, one receives an opportunity to move to the new place with the family and to get (often, depending on the country) free integrational and language courses.
  • Helping yourself out. Here comes a small hint: the visa legislation related to Blue Cards differs a bit in European countries, but you should read yours even before you get to touch your very own Blue Card. Why? Because, for instance, in Germany, if your contract expired or was cancelled after 1 full year, you are eligible to an unemployment insurance AND a visa for the job search (3 months with the Blue Card + 3 months usually offered extra) for the whole period of your insurance (which is 6 months if you worked at least 1 year).
  • Getting the permanent residence permit faster. Yes, this is also possible for Blue Card holders with some knowledge of the local language. With time, you will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit (incl. your closest family – wife and children) and stay in the country as long as you wish. Just keep in mind that there is usually am difference between the citizenship and permanent residence permit in a form that you should stay primarily within the country – whenever you want to move within Europe again, have a look at the current legislation 😉

International work in an international world. Part II: surviving as a foreigner in an international company.

If you are new in a company, many things can go wrong. Adapting yourself in an international company in another country may be easier than fighting with the language barrier in a small local SME, but still a challenge. If you found yourself away from home in an international giant, here are some basic tips:

  • Manage to eat: Eat with everybody what they all eat, where they all eat, when they all eat. Eating is one of the most ancient ways of getting closer to people. Your tasks are not your first priority – you REALLY should eat the way your colleagues do.
  • Manage to participate: Meetings are a necessity for your job, but clubs are the necessity to keep your job. If your colleagues do anything in their spare time, be it yoga, evening cocktails or even sailing, do yourself a favour and participate. The social game is the next most important ancient way of becoming a part of a group.
  • Manage to talk: Personally, I feel like an idiot when people are discussing football. I have neither love nor interest for football. I will be by no means able to support a conversation on this topic – but surely can ask 1-2 questions to be polite and show my respect to the interests of my colleagues.
  • Manage to avoid: Topics related to politics, critics of behaviours and cultures, personal life details, religion, talking about other colleagues. Many people know that those topics are taboo, but I still hear them every week.
  • Manage to observe: How people are interacting with each other. How are they reacting, responding, working, greeting others and asking about favours. It might be very different from what you are used to.
  • Manage to explain: Feel free to explain, why you do things differently. Feel free to tell that you don’t eat pork or should wear a head scarf all the time. Every normal international company should show acceptance to the basics.

International work in an international world. Part I: Looking for the right international company to work for

With this week, I will share some observations on the international work in German companies. They might be different from your experience, and I will be glad if you share yours in comments.

First of all, let’s have a look at how some transnational giants handle the diversity.

  • When I submitted an application for McKinsey & Company, they announced something like: By the way, we have support groups for women, LGBTQ and disabled! Wait a minute..did you really put me as a woman in the same line?.. I withdrew my application right away.
  • When I started working for a BIG4 company in Hamburg, we had about 8% foreigners and only one guy on the floor who did not speak German. Yeah, as international as it might be!
  • When I had an interview with the company I am working for now, I asked, whether they already have foreigners in their teams. They told: “Of course we have foreigners, we are a very open-minded company!” Sure, they have! I am the third one!
  • Every company I have an interview with asks me, whether I can work well in an international context. I am a Russian who moved from China to Germany after Spain, which one can clearly sees in my CV…but a question from a protocol is a questions from the protocol!
  • But enough jokes. If you are looking for a really nice international company..ask, which language is the official communication language in the company. Is it English? Congrats, you are one step closer to an open-minded employer!

Work in India: hard challenges with a chilling fleur. Chilling nicely – working hard

The Indian work culture is very different from ours. First of all, Indians are not as stressed out as Europeans are, especially in the small cities. Drivers, shops’ owners, tabacco chewers are sitting and chilling while waiting for the customers. Or talking and drinking tea. Or just sleeping directly on their work place or in the car. You usually will not find Indians standing straight and waiting for the customers with a big smile on their face from 09:00 till 18:00 like you are used to in Europe. They will be very relaxed while waiting for you. By the way, the shops usually work till 17 or 18, rarely 19, so one does not expect a bunch of tourists coming from their one-day excursion to shop in the evening. In India, you will be offered a cold drink or a chai (tea with milk, sugar and spices) while you are sitting and shopping. This is a process to be enjoyed by both, the customer and the seller. While passing working people by, you feel a much more pleasant energy than in a French or German office, where employees live under the 24/7 stress. Probably, the appreciation of what you have right now is determining a more relaxed way of working here.

If in countries like Korea and China you may learn how to survive in the hardest competition, here you may learn how to enjoy your day while working hard. At least, it is worth trying.

Just some info for you..from me!

First of all, here is a small announcement: As I discovered that my readers often use mobile phones to read my articles, I will shorten the stories and divide them into small parts, so it would be more comfortable for you to read when you are on your way to work, university or language courses 😉 If you dislike the new format, just write your opinion in the comments!

There are many countries, which I imagined to be different before I came there, and India was one of them. This week I will post 5 thoughts on the Indian work culture I experienced this fall, one thought per day, so do not miss them))

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

 

 

Team culture vs. individuals-driven innovations

Some time ago, I attended an Assessment Centre of a major energy company, and the thoughts about it would not let me go. The negative part of my personal feedback was: “We need innovations, and you are not creative, because you did not propose any solution to the problem”. Our group was the only one to complete the task correctly though.

Choosing between different directions for innovation is not only the task for one’s creativity, but this is an issue of the right facilitation and personnel management. Most companies have enough talented people to bring innovations forward but concentrate all the efforts on finding the solutions somewhere else instead of motivating employees to bring ideas forward within the company. Moreover, while recruiters are paying attention to the knowledge of the “right” (well-known and certified) methodologies, the ability to listen carefully to others and to ask the right questions is never in the middle of the interview.

I went through many modern innovation approaches focusing on customers, internal processes, team-related brainstorming – but did not find any good concepts related to individual intellectual strength of employees. Let’s say, innovation is not business at first – it’s personal.

Many companies are strongly team building-oriented, while innovation-focused structured work of less social employees is underrated. The goal of the team management often becomes to make employees identical enough so they could work as an “effective team”. The amount of emotional energy every employee should invest in this theatrical masterpiece of acting like a “good team member” instead of his own work and relationships with the clients is not considered. This becomes especially visible in teams, which have only few introverts, who need to adapt to the “team culture” of others. Meanwhile, when did the “good team player” become the only way of distinguishing the “good employee”? A solid introverted scientist can be of more help in an innovation process than ten certified Innovation Managers can. I am talking here about employees, who are too shy or just uncomfortable to speak up for their ideas. In this case, their y).

Why do so few methodologies focus on what the INDIVIDUALS can and so many – on what THE TEAM can? Why do employers spend so much time creating “team cultures”, candidates are sitting with books on “how to become a person everybody will love during the Assessment Center”, team members are concentrated on the team brainstorming while competing behind each other’s backs. Excuse me, who is going to work in this structure on the innovative strategies and when?

Why do not we try to collect different ideas from the employees themselves one-by-one and then analyze them, as we do with the customers’ opinions? Why not to make our own talented people to our internal customers in the innovation process?

We do not use the individual strengths – we tolerate them. And later on we try to change the individual in order to be able to manage him more effectively. Similar people in larger groups are easier to coordinate. This toleration is a disease, as what we really need is to learn, how to integrate individual strengths instead and make use of them.

We also lack the ability to observe. When I read my non-marketing-related newsfeed on LinkedIn, 80% of posts are about people themselves (I was nominated..I visited…I achieved) and 20% declare the same in a more polite form “WE” (My team..my company..). There are only few to none posts about achievements of colleagues and partners, which mostly come from executives and headhunters. To survive, one should be self-centered, self-confident and very loud. The team culture in many companies does not motivate people to share innovative ideas with each other, as it is more of a co-existence culture under the conditions of a high competition within the “team”. Nobody is willing to share more than is required, even less are employees motivated to ask other team members about their opinions.

In my perception, the reason why many innovative startups are showing a sustainable fast growth is that they are small enough so the employees would use the individual strengths of each other and have less time for the process management. You MUST get to know others and learn their opinion to survive. The ability to listen and make others speak becomes crucial.

As the speed requirements for innovations processes increase, we need new concepts concentrating on making people speak up rather than making their opinions “acceptable” to the team. In the world of diversity, one should learn not only to accept differences in minds, characters, and working cultures – but also to benefit from them.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

Business dinner in Europe

As I told you before, dining culture is extremely important, if you wish to progress in your career in Europe. Unlike casual lunches with colleagues, described in the previous article, dinners might be more of a problem.

In France, the main problem for me was that all the waiters wanted to speak only French, even though they were perfectly able to speak English. Just because they love their native language. One might look strange, showing with his hands that he would like to have a dish with a swimming fish during a business dinner.

In Spain and Italy, I had difficulties to hear my colleagues, because many good restaurants are very loud.

In Netherlands, I had to go for some business breakfast to a cafe next to the trade fair building. Honestly saying, I was ready to cry while paying for my simple “bio” croissant with ham and a small cup of coffee. It was the most precious croissant in my life..

In Germany, you can eat well for a small price or eat so-so for a very high price. It depends. In Hamburg, for instance, one can find 11 Michelin restaurants, and some more, which had a Michelin star before and still have a good kitchen (but much lower prices). As in Germany, some professions require having dinners and lunches with your clients, many companies pay the bills back to their employees if they invited an important client to a dinner – therefore, feel free to accept an invitation from your German business partners.

If you are looking for a very special place to eat with your clients or partners, I would opt for this website:

https://www.viamichelin.de/web/Suchen_Restaurants/

Is will not only show you the Michelin restaurants with a very special kitchen (a good place for a very special date, a proposal, a crucial contract-related business meeting), but also very good restaurants with the approximate price ranges for a meal.

As food is a brilliant opportunity to unite with people and progress in business, I wish you to find just the right place for your occasion.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

 

 

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