Interview Mourad Salaheddine – Pharming Group N.V.

What were your reasons to follow a workshop (dealing with the Chinese) at Akteos?

Our company signed a contract with a Chinese company. Many of the people involved have a technical background and have limited experience with intercultural relationships. We started the activities and after a while we found out that our “western” way of communicating differs from the Chinese (for example the difference in meaning of ‘yes’ and ‘no’…). Our HR department suggested to follow a course to develop more insight into the differences.

What do you think of the course? What is your experience?

It was extremely useful! It not only made clear what the cultural differences are but also why they exist as they were placed in a historical context.

What is your opinion on the consultant?

She’s great. I’m very happy about how she explained things.

Do you have any points for improvement?*

We would have liked to have some real-life rehearsal. But I don’t know if that is possible in a one-day-course. One possible solution could be some coaching “on-the-job”. For example: the consultant is present during a teleconference and intervenes if needed. Or when there’s an issue which must be solved by e-mail, the consultant could check and advise. Either way, it would be good if the consultant visits the company prior to the training so he/she can be introduced to the business/company culture which exists next to the country culture.

Have you implemented the skills acquired during the course in your day-to-day work?

Yes, we are now very aware of the cultural differences. For example we are aware of the fact that contracts are not written in stone. We answer e-mails in a different way: always try to show commitment for a long term relationship and not “just” answer questions instantly.

Have you visited the Nomad’ Network after the training?

Yes, and so did my colleagues. I think it’s a very useful and powerful tool. You can easily see how your cultural profile differs from country profiles or even the profiles of your colleagues and thus see what the cultural gaps are that you need to bridge.

Would you recommend this training course?

Yes, absolutely!

We assumed “it would work” and “we will manage”… During the course you’ll learn things you would not have found out yourself or could have put in the right perspective.

* Additional note from Akteos: Coaching on the job is indeed a great way to improve your cultural skills and is therefore often recommended and provided by Akteos (depending on the educational needs and wishes of the client prior to the training). Preparatory activities include preliminary visits by the account manager and consultant(s), needs analyses from the participants and completing personal cultural profiles in our Nomad’ Network.

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