Detroit, Ludwigsburg, Indaiatuba, Shanghai and Bangalore – this is where I have been based over the last twelve years. My work for MANN+HUMMEL has already taken me to a total of four continents. It all started in 2004: as part of my BA studies at the company, I completed a three-month traineeship in Detroit, USA. The three months passed far too quickly and at the end, I really didn’t want to come back. That awakened my desire to get to know countries properly, to live and work there for a long period of time. I was therefore keen, even at the beginning, to undertake foreign assignments at MANN+HUMMEL. So this is how I travelled from Ludwigsburg to Brazil, China and India.
Any overseas move naturally involves a lot of bureaucratic and organisational preparation. Prospective expats at MANN+HUMMEL are however not simply thrown in at the deep end: every employee must undertake intercultural training before going to work abroad for a lengthy period. The most important social and cultural customs of the country in question are explained. I was for example made aware of intercultural blunders, thus saving myself some embarrassing situations in the host country. Language courses are of course part of the standard programme. I therefore learned Portuguese for my assignment in Brazil, and had a few Mandarin lessons for Shanghai. English is the official language in India, so a specific language course in advance was not necessary.
MANN+HUMMEL also offers a look-and-see trip for would-be expats. This gives you the opportunity to visit and get to know the relevant country, ideally together with the family. The focus is not on your future tasks here, but to gain an impression of the host country. For my family and me, it was important to have an overview of infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and supermarkets, and possibly visit a few neighbourhoods. I can certainly recommend this trip to any potential expat: you can read as many books about it as you like, ultimately the real-life impression is crucial for your decision.
As well as the look-and-see trip, MANN+HUMMEL also supports expatriates to overcome bureaucratic hurdles. An agency in the host country sorts out visas, work permits and other organisational details. The company also arranges the obligatory tropical medical check-up for Asian countries, so that my family and I could deal with all personal matters – at the end of the day, moving to another country is a major challenge, particularly for the family.
My next blog article will take you on a cross-cultural journey through Brazil, China and India. Learn the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’, find out how I got on in Brazil, how not to put your foot in it in China and how to make small talk in India. So with this in mind: Até logo, 再见, see you soon!