Multiculturalism in Gütersloh
Catherine Reimer came to Gütersloh directly from Kuala Lumpur. She worked as a web designer at an IT consulting company in the Malaysian capital before she decided to move to Germany and join Arvato Supply Chain Solutions in November 2018. Since then, the native Filipino has been working in the Customer Service department of the Healthcare business unit at the company headquarters in Gütersloh. She provides EDI backend support for a large customer, a US company that specializes in the sale of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.
As part of a ten-member Customer Service team led by a team coordinator, she checks the automated incoming EDI orders of hospitals, clinics and other buyers who are ordering catheters, surgical drains, gloves, surgical masks, syringes, compression stockings and other medical products. After checking an order, she issues an order confirmation, informing the customer a few minutes later whether the order has been accepted (possibly with changes) or declined.
A variety of tasks
Catherine’s job involves many different tasks: “The team is divided into groups that do various things throughout the week,” she says. “So working together on the team like that leads to a lot of variety, and because of that, I can’t really say exactly what my typical day looks like.” With a smile, she adds: “But compared with the others, I’m still kind of a newcomer on the team. I’m constantly learning by doing a variety of different jobs every day.” Learning the ropes is a lot of fun, she says, and she typically approaches it with a positive outlook, as a self-starter: “I like the fact that we switch jobs every week. The teamwork also gives us the chance to compare notes on a regular basis and talk about any difficulties we may be having in what we’re doing at the moment.” The required contact with the IT on the EDI backend isn’t a problem for the tech-savvy 36-year-old. In fact, she is also involved in graphic design and web advertising in her off-hours, when she isn’t pursing one of her other pastimes, such as cycling, jogging or travel.
Communication is a must
Alongside the division of labor, each person generally also has a very specific role. Filling that role smoothly when coworkers are absent or unavailable is challenging for the team, in Catherine’s experience. So new employees should always be team-oriented, capable of actively contributing, and have the ability to delegate and communicate. Communication, especially, is a must for Catherine in her field of work: “We work with various shared documents and tools, so it’s very important to communicate in order to avoid mistakes. And when dealing with buyers, you should always specifically ask before making permanent changes to a customer account.” That requires language skills. “Team members are required to know more than one language,” explains Catherine. The Customer Service department in Gütersloh is currently covering 85 countries on behalf of the large US client. Any questions that a customer might have are handled directly, by native speakers in 13 different languages. Accordingly, a large number of nationalities are represented at the site. “We have people here from more than 40 countries, so it’s a very multicultural team,” says Catherine of her workplace. And given her temperament as a vivacious, creative, communicative and fun-loving person, that suits her well. “I’ve already got to know so many different people here, and I’ve learned a lot from them. Things about their culture, their faith and a few words of their language – though I sometimes still experience a bit of culture shock,” she says.
It wasn't a hard decision for me, it is a privilege to work for Arvato.”
Catherine has also learned that the workplace atmosphere at her job in Gütersloh is less formal than what she’d expect in her native country: “In the Philippines, you wear reasonably formal clothing to work; you dress as though you were going to a job interview. Here, it’s completely OK to work in jeans and tennis shoes.”
The move to Germany meant a big change for her personally, one she doesn’t regret in the least. “I would make the same decision again any day. Considering that Arvato is one of the largest tech companies in the region, it feels like a privilege to work for a company like this.”
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