The Job Swap Experience
Career at thyssenkrupp | Simply ask and within a blink of an eye you're working in Sao Paulo. What Diversity Manager Fabienne Mainz has experience during here job swap experience? I just simply asked.
“Ever since I joined thyssenkrupp in 2012, one thing that’s fascinated me is the figure 150,000. That’s how many employees around the world work for thyssenkrupp every day: 150,000 people, 150,000 different working worlds in a broad range of different cultures.
And these differences are what my job as a diversity manager is all about. Of course we are in regular contact with colleagues in other countries, but to really immerse myself in one of these cultures I wanted to spend a longer period abroad. How was I going to put my idea into practice? In my experience, the best way is just to ask, so that’s what I did. We were right in the middle of planning a workshop for Brazil on the subject of diversity in working life. I asked my colleague in Brazil if I could perhaps stay for four weeks rather than just a couple of days. And that was it: A couple of months after the original idea I was sitting with my colleague in his office in downtown Sao Paulo.
Bound together by thyssenkrupp’s DNA
The first thing that struck me was how many parallels there are in our jobs. 10,000 kilometers away from Germany and the Ruhr area, where everyone knows who thyssenkrupp is, we are still bound together by thyssenkrupp’s DNA: At every plant I visited I was welcomed by the thyssenkrupp logo and health & safety instructions. And just like in the Ruhr, thyssenkrupp in Brazil is a good corporate citizen. There’s plenty on offer for the families of employees, disabled inclusion in the workforces is encouraged, and financial support is given to social facilities in the vicinity of the companies. That all felt familiar.
And working with my colleagues was just as familiar. When you’re working on common themes, language barriers and cultural differences disappear. My Brazilian colleagues noticed that the Germans are not as stiff and formal as they thought, and I quickly noticed that there’s more to Sao Paulo than caipirinha and the beach – in fact, there are echoes of Tokyo, as Sao Paulo hosts the biggest Japanese community outside Japan. Brazilian society itself is really diverse, with people descended from Germans, Japanese, etc. The important thing is to get involved, show interest in the new and the different, and find common features. That’s exactly the atmosphere I encountered in the office.
What have I taken with me from my stay in Brazil? The experience that we have a lot in common; and that our differences provide opportunities I can learn and benefit from; and of course my new passion for Japanese food.”