After having spent 3 weeks both in Imatra, Finland and Ostroleka, Poland, I am now in Chennai, India for the final part of my international trainee assignment.
Here Stora Enso is the majority owner of a converting factory for consumer and transport packaging. The factory, acquired in 2011, employs around 400 people and is one of many signs of Stora Enso’s shift in geographical focus towards growth markets in Asia and Latin America.
Having spent time in three different units, cities and countries, it has been impossible not to reflect on the vast differences in culture, both in everyday life and in the different ways in which we do business. For example, during my time here in Chennai I have had the opportunity to join our local salespeople in a couple of customer meetings. Without going into details, my main observation from these visits is that business seems to be run significantly different here compared to what I am used to from home.
This made me think about the need for Stora Enso to get accustomed to new business cultures now that we are shifting geographical focus, and the need for colleagues who know how to approach different situations and challenges. Although we must never diverge from our company values, we have to allow for different ways of interacting with customers, caring for employees, running operations, etc. Furthermore, being a manager in a global company inevitably will put your cultural aptitude to the test. In my view, one of the best ways to attain such aptitude is to gain international experience by working and living in a different part of the world. Consequently these international assignments, and the fact that we trainees are being sent to work abroad at such an early stage in our careers, is a great opportunity to develop some of the skills needed to navigate through an increasingly global business environment. These assignments and projects we are working on will undoubtedly allow us to grow, both as individuals and as employees in a global company.
Next time you hear from me I will probably be back in wintry Sweden. Until then, stay safe!