How our international colleagues experience working in Germany

Career at thyssenkrupp | Corporate culture | People at thyssenkrupp | thyssenkrupp worldwide | Thinking about Germany, the Oktoberfest, our Autobahn and a certain stiffness come to most people’s minds. Many international colleagues get to experience working for thyssenkrupp in Germany. They had different reasons to come to Germany - but all of them enhance our team. We asked a few colleagues working here, what else they got to know about their new home – and which stereotypes about Germans have proven to be correct.

Leen Hinnawi from Syria, trainee at thyssenkrupp

Leen Hinnawi from Syria.

Why did you come to Germany in the first place?

Due to the war in my home country Syria I had to leave my home and my memories of it behind. I came to Germany because I had no perspective anymore in Syria. I still wanted to reach my goals – that’s why I decided to come here.

What’s the main difference between working in your home country and working in Germany?

Syria is quite different from Germany – so there are a lot of differences at work, too. You only have to pay taxes once a year and they are not as high as in Germany. But also, you have no insurances at work.

Which stereotypes about Germans and living in Germany can you actually confirm?

Germans love to be on time. Also, you can always expect a helping hand by the Germans.

What is the German working culture like to you?

I like that everything has to happen on time. When someone tells you that he will arrive in a minute, it won’t take much longer than that.

What’s the craziest thing that happened to you in Germany?

When I arrived in Germany, I had an appointment at the foreigners’ registration office, but I could not understand the woman at all. She kept asking me questions I didn’t understand, so I only answered ‘yes’ all the time. She got pretty mad and almost screamed at me. I was almost thrown out, and to this day I still have no idea why.

Amir Habil from Iran, Head of Digital at thyssenkrupp’s in-house-agency BOBBY&CARL

Amir Habil from Iran lives in Duesseldorf today.

Why did you come to Germany in the first place?

Actually, I didn’t choose to stay here, my parents came for vacation first.

When they left Iran, they decided to move to Germany.

What’s the main difference between working in your home country and working in Germany?

Germans are very structured and love processes, there is a form for everything.

In Iran people are easier, when you ask them, they will say: ‘We work to live, but you Germans live to work.’

Which stereotypes about Germans and living in Germany can you actually confirm?

I think that there is something about Germans and Engineering, it feels like Germany is just the right place to be an engineer.

What is the German working culture like to you?

In the past years the culture has changed a lot, it is very open and communicative, it is like a second family. But at the same time everything is very logic and fact based, especially in decision making.

What’s the craziest thing that happened to you in Germany?

Germans love their type of bars called Kneipe and if you visit one you might end up with plenty of new friends.

Do Germans actually have a sense of humor?

Oh yes, they have, actually a lot, but like the British humor, the German humor has its own style and flavor.

Luciana Finazzi Filizzola from Brazil, Head of Communications at thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies

Luciana Finazzi Filizzola is from Brazil.

Why did you come to Germany in the first place?

Because it was a career opportunity. I also considered a chance for myself and my husband and daughter to get to know a different culture and society.

What’s the main difference between working in your home country and working in Germany?

German colleagues are more reliable on deadlines. They are also more straight to the point. But they are less flexible and less spontaneous as well than back home.

Which stereotypes about Germans and living in Germany can you actually confirm?

I can say that Germans are very serious and also like to complain about everything.

What is the German working culture like to you?

I like it because it is reliable and also transparent. There is no problem to disagree with the colleagues and say it. It is very professional. What I find funny is that Germans use a tool for everything. It makes a work that for me would be very simple in a big thing. I find it funny, but I understand that it is because Germans want to make sure to have the control of possible things that can happen.

What’s the craziest thing that happened to you in Germany?

It is private, but crazy and funny. We went to a wedding from a German couple friends of ours one week too early, because my husband messed up the dates.  When we arrived at the church all dressed up and there was nobody there! We called our friends and they came over to see us. The couple arrived at our hotel dressed like bride and groom and made fun of us. It was crazy and so funny!

Do Germans actually have a sense of humor?

Based on the answer above, definitely YES!

Dustin Hepner from the US, working in the corporate communications team

Dustin Hepner is from the United States of America.

Why did you come to Germany in the first place? 

I was offered the opportunity to come work with the Corporate COM team for tk.

What’s the main difference between working in your home country and working in Germany?

Where do I begin.  In the US you are always given praise for anything you do. In Germany it is true that no response means you did a good job. And getting six weeks of vacation in Germany compared to ten days in the US.

Which stereotypes about Germans and living in Germany can you actually confirm? 

Germans are known for their directness. In the US it is considered slightly rude to be so direct. But I like directness, it keeps things clear when communicating.

What is the German working culture like to you?

I like that the working culture is very focused and thought out when working on projects, very pragmatic approach.

What’s the craziest thing that happened to you in Germany? 

Hmmmm, good question, I think mine is when I first went to a Sauna, that was a bit shocking and crazy for me, men and women together in the same place, naked!

Do Germans actually have a sense of humor?

I think they do. It’s a bit different from my humor but they definitely have it.

Kenneth Teng from Singapore, Account Manager at thyssenkrupp’s in-house-agentur BOBBY&CARL

Kenneth Teng (front left) came from Singapore to Germany.

What’s the main difference between working in your home country and working in Germany?

I have learnt that in Germany, Germans value openness and honesty…and they are critical. Imagine my shock when I am given a list of everything that I can improve on and a short list of what I did right. Or when my friends and colleagues’ comment about a meal at a restaurant and offer feedback to the restaurant. And straight to the point also means being focused. Focus is the epitome of the German culture. I have never seen any other culture more focused than the Germans.

Which stereotypes about Germans and living in Germany can you actually confirm?

Having been born and bred in Singapore, I am very used to diversity and the myriad of cultures and languages. It is very common to see so many foreigners and people from all over the world. But here in Düsseldorf, it’s not exactly the same. Yes, maybe in Berlin it’s different. But the rest of Germany is still pretty much German-centric. Everything is done in German and although some try to be accommodating, it isn’t easy for the Germans to also make the change to English.

What is the German working culture like to you?

Germans are proud to be specialists. And that has its advantages and disadvantages. It helps if you talk to an expert on a topic. You can be sure that he or she definitely knows what they are doing and is very knowledgeable. At the same time, however, this means that you may need to talk to several people before you can complete a task. However, I have learned that Germans are proud of their work and that everything is done with the highest precision and quality.

Ahmed Barry, office administration trainee at thyssenkrupp

Ahmed Barry is trainee at the thyssenkrupp headquarters in Essen, Germany.

Why did you come to Germany in the first place?

There are several reasons for my decision – so I’m just happy to be here.

What’s the main difference between working in your home country and working in Germany?

I grew up in a small village in Africa – life in the Ruhr area was initially a change for me, because it’s completely different here. Even the job market in my home country cannot be compared to the possibilities here: Many professions don’t exist because they are simply not needed. There are also no training opportunities with vocational school or language courses.

Which prejudices about Germans and living in Germany can you actually confirm?

The people I met in Germany are very warm and helpful. I also appreciate the open and communicative nature of North Rhine-Westphalia. You can live peacefully in freedom.

What is the German working culture like to you?

Two words: optimal and very precise. And I think that’s great.

What’s the craziest thing that happened to you in Germany?

It’s the different understanding of time that drives Germans crazy – and leaves Africans confused. If I say, for example, that I will come “after school”, it means in Germany that I will leave right after school. However, in Africa, that could take until the evening. This sometimes led to confusion at the beginning of my stay. The question “Are you coming in African or German?” saved me many times.

The most important questions: Do Germans actually have a sense of humor?

I definitely got to know laughter and wit. And I like to laugh at comedy shows that make fun of the topics of migration and integration and life as a foreigner in Germany. The “German virtues” or civil servants are often the target of jokes, too. That’s why I think that the Germans indeed have a sense of humor. In everyday life, however, things like accuracy, order, punctuality, reliability are more important for them – here, humor is perhaps a little neglected. But I can arrange myself well with that.

Sanjukta Ray, Human Resources Expert at thyssenkrupp’s Regional Headquarter in India

In Germany, Sanjukta want to get new insights for her work in the field of learning and development.

Why did you come to Germany in the first place?

Being a part of our Regional Headquarter in India, our team works with Corporate functions, which is housed in Germany, on several aspects. What has been instrumental in strengthening the learning & transformation culture within our company through various global learning programs is the “tk Academy”. Their work model intrigued me and I wanted to study it more closely to be able to better support the initiatives in our region and get insights on how colleagues work over here, what is the influence of culture on work, and what kind of technologies, designs, and frameworks could benefit the learning & transformation culture.

What’s the main difference between working in your home country and working in Germany?

One would easily miss the hustle and bustle at work – it does tend to get quiet around you. But just like we find order in chaos back home, you would find order in silence too. As a colleague over lunch pointed out, it’s dynamic everywhere. And I experience yet another difference in the form of flexible working spaces: Whether you would like to have a private space for an individual or a group, or an ideation or an open discussion space – you have to remember to place your badge on the ‘Wall of Fame’ every morning.  And if you happen to be working during January to March in Germany, be ready to make the weather your friend. It will surely compensate for all the hustle and bustle that you were missing. You will have to face and survive a combination of weathers: snow, rain, sun, wind. And you will learn a very important lesson: There is never bad weather, just bad preparation.

Which stereotypes about Germans and living in Germany can you actually confirm?

One should come here to learn and truly experience the habits of abiding by time, paying attention to detail, living independently but responsibly, expressing ideas assertively but with humility, and maintaining an extremely healthy lifestyle. Simultaneously, you can witness the functioning of an economy which has a high techno-buff population, and an infrastructure which is friendly to all age groups that reside in it.

What is the German working culture like to you?

Just as in India, accepting and allowing you room to learn and experiment, and building an enabling environment for you to work in, even if you are new to the culture.

What’s the craziest thing that happened to you in Germany?

Coming straight from a 12-month period of humidity, to a climate where one needs to brave the snow en route to work – this can be categorized as one of my craziest experiences here. And, of course, trying to pronounce ‘Eichhörnchen‘ or walking through the city of Dusseldorf during the Carnival – irrespective of the weather.

Do Germans actually have a sense of humor?

Now when you hear a two–year–old call you ‘Tamtukta’, wouldn’t it make you smile? It definitely made me. I assure you that humor runs across age groups. Just visit a brewery and you would hear laughter from almost every table, with each table having a story to tell.

Author

Eduardo
  • written by Eduardo
  • 27. March 2019

Fantastisch!

Author

Dr. David Maus
  • written by Dr. David Maus
  • 11. June 2019

We should be proud but also humble to be able to learn from each other! Thanks for your valuable mirror, dear colleagues!

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