For global corporations with branches all over the world, finding a way to get all employees onto the same page can often prove a challenge. Although a company’s headquarters may have a set of ideals, rules and practices it hopes all its staff can follow, things can often be more complicated than that.
In the case of employees at regional branches, there can be no better way to get an understanding of a company’s philosophy, overarching strategy and the intricacies of internal procedures than living and working at headquarters for a few months, or even up to three years. The links and bonds you form during an experience of this sort can last a lifetime.
When employees who have completed such a program return to their regional offices, they can become influential office leaders thanks to their deep insight into the company – and hopefully share this message with their colleagues back home.
Ousmane Diallo, Manager at Samsung C&T’s Dakar Office, experienced this firsthand. The Samsung C&T Trading Group has operated the Global Assignee (GA) program since 2008. This was the first ‘global mobility program’ to be introduced in a Samsung Group company. As part of the initiative, Diallo spent a year in Seoul, Korea, working at the company’s headquarters.
His wife traveled with him, and during their stay, she gave birth to their daughter at a Seoul hospital, creating a connection with Korea none of his family will ever forget. “I just feel sorry the baby cannot speak Korean,” Diallo explains. “But I think it will be a good reason for her to come back here at some point in the future.”
In summer every year, Samsung C&T’s Seoul-based corporate office welcomes a group of colleagues from across the planet. The company’s GA program sees international employees temporarily relocate to Seoul for a period of one to three years. Samsung C&T also operates a shorter Global Trainee initiative, which lasts up to six months.
During their times in Seoul, participants get to learn more about the company’s strategic goals, its working culture and the corporate environment at its headquarters. The hope is that they will be able to spread their knowledge with their colleagues and professional networks in their home offices, and use their newly acquired expertise to do better business in the future.
The programs typically begin with a five-day general training session, during which the participants receive a briefing from Samsung C&T Trading Group President and CEO Shin Kim.
The first week also includes activities designed to provide a gentle transition into Korean work and cultural life.
Additionally, sessions focus on providing education about company logistics and corporate culture. This entails issues such as management status, global HR strategy, Samsung’s core values and ethics. Intercultural competency, with visits to museums and historical sites, is also an important part of the training.
A New Hometown
In Dakar, Diallo has worked mostly on infrastructure projects. During his stay in Korea, he had the chance to work with a wide range of departments within the Project Division.
However, Diallo was not just learning from Korea-based employees – he was also sharing his own expertise, helping workers in Seoul understand what he does in Dakar. While in Korea, he assisted with a new infrastructure project in Africa. His first-hand knowledge and experience in the region, say Seoul employees, proved invaluable.
It was not all work, work, work for Diallo during his stay in Korea, which came to an end earlier this summer. Co-workers soon became firm friends, who shared meals and after-work drinks.
Welcoming his baby daughter into the world during his time in Seoul was perhaps the icing on the cake for Diallo – making for a year he and his family will never forget.
A New World
For Alex Diaz, Senior Manager at the Santiago Office in Chile, the experience was every bit as valuable.
Like Diallo, Diaz came to Korea with his family – his wife and young daughter. He says that all three found the GA experience remarkable, helping them appreciate what was at first a brand new culture.
Diaz, who works with steel-related projects in Santiago, teamed up with the Seoul-based Steel Division, building relationships with workers from wide-ranging backgrounds. Upon his return to Chile, his friends in Korea and all over Asia will become part of his business network – granting him an enormous advantage with future Santiago endeavors.
“The GA program provides you with the chance to understand the company from the inside,” explains Diaz. “While you are here, you get to know the system, the culture, the work style, and the mindsets of the people at the corporate office. You really get to learn about the big picture of our global business.”
For traders, this kind of insight is essential. As Diaz says, “Global employees are the bridges that connect the Seoul office with other markets. We are at the front line of business in our respective markets. The chance to come to the Seoul office helps us expand our capabilities and knowledge, something which is beneficial for all parties.”
This June, Samsung C&T welcomed a group of 13 participants from all four corners of the globe – each with very different worldviews, skillsets and areas of expertise.
One of the new arrivals is Assistant Manager Soichiro Aramaki, a member of the Tokyo office. He says that in Korea he hopes to learn more about steel trade, a major area of business for Samsung C&T. Aramaki explains, “I want to become a professional steel trader who can manage not only Japanese projects, but also those involving a wide range of countries.”
With initiatives like these in place, Samsung C&T hopes to nurture deeper levels of commercial and cultural understanding throughout the company. Programs also allow Seoul-based employees to learn about international markets and culture – and to add new perspectives to headquarters’ outlook. They are all part of an effort to help traders look forward to a future where cultural and professional knowledge knows no borders.