My first JIG assignment abroad started in January 2017 in the French sales office located in Velizy, in the surrounding area of Paris. When I arrived to the company, the procurement team was already there to welcome me, to give me a tour of the premises, and to introduce me to all the employees. I was fortunate to meet two other JIGs that had their assignments in France as well.
Before I started my assignment, I had been in close contact with my French assignment manager to define my projects, objectives and mutual expectations. Moreover, I had met with my German procurement colleagues to identify relevant topics for the knowledge exchange between the two teams. As it had been a while since I had last spoken French I also took some French lessons back home to brush up on my language skills.
Despite all my preparation, working on my projects in French – e.g. discussing processes, communicating with suppliers, and reading and negotiating contracts - was a true challenge for me and my colleagues, but we always found a way to understand each other and to work effectively as a team.
I was grateful that all my colleagues were very nice and helpful. I had lot of fun learning - not only new French words, but also about French laws and regulations, which can be quite different from the German ones. On top of that, I had the chance to work for another department for a day. This was a great opportunity to gain new insights into other workflows and processes, as well as a different perspective and a deeper understanding of the interdisciplinary collaboration between the different areas of the company.
I think my French experience will help me in many aspects of my future work. Besides my enhanced ability to communicate in the French language, I extended my network within the Jungheinrich family and acquired new knowledge about the French market. Furthermore, I improved my understanding of the different challenges that may occur in a subsidiary away from the headquarters in Germany. Besides that, I also learned a lot about inter-divisional processes and collaboration.
Spending time and working in France also increased my awareness of the cultural characteristics that are important for business in France. Valuable insights into other departments and various ways of working professionally will definitely excel my ability to work in intercultural teams, or international projects. Likewise, I gained confidence, and I am now fit to successfully manage complex situations abroad.