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Archive for August, 2012

Generation Global

August 30, 2012 1 comment

When working for a big multinational company, you will be faced with tasks that require intercultural sensitivity and skills to work in such environments. No surprise there, as we are talking about those “multinationals”. But even smaller businesses that haven’t spread their branches to other continents or even other countries, require you to meet this demand. “International compatibility” (how I would like to call it in this post) is something that I haven’t missed in one job-offer that I have seen in a while.

This requirement is always directly connected to international experience in your education or prior work experience. When I think about my friends and fellow students from Uni, I’d say that vastly more than 50% of them meet this demand. But when you trust statistics, only 15,2% of German students in 2009 had this kind of experience (http://www.news.de/wirtschaft/855106950/bachelorstudenten-haben-weniger-auslandserfahrung/1/).

Obviously, there is a big gap between the supply and the demand of international experience of recent Uni graduates, when you compare these stats with employer-expectations. So, I’m wondering: Is it truly compulsory? Does it have a negative impact on your application if you don’t have it? Or the other way around does it have a positive impact if you have it? Or does it make a difference if you have extraordinary international experiencing instead of “just” some kind?

I’m pretty sure that recruiting departments are not searching for certain professional skills when asking for international experience, but the personal development you went through during that time. But is this something that you have necessarily made, when living abroad? And is it something that you definitely can’t have if you haven’t lived in a foreign country? Also, were does internationality start: Does a semester in Belgium provide a Dutch person with the same cross-cultural skills like a 2 months internship of a Mexican guy in Norway?

I would like to hear your opinion about this topic, because I’m not sure how to handle it in the application process in a general way. I made these international, cross-cultural experiences myself and they had a large impact on my personality.

So: international experience – YES! But is it really the only thing that is important?

Sebastian

Why do people work?

August 24, 2012 Leave a comment

“Why do people work?” – It was a question one of my friends was asked while applying to a top-tier consultancy firm. It is very good to see that philosophy has not left those kinds of companies, but it also means that you cannot get an answer to such a query right. Partly because it is very subjective…

Certainly a few quick guesses come to mind: people work because they have to do so for economic reasons. But yet there are people who have sufficient money and who love to work, and people who are economically deprived, can work, but choose not to. It seems that economic necessity is just one of many motivators that can contribute to one’s wish to work. But there are certainly others, like joy of learning, sense of purpose, or want to provide for one’s family.

And while motivations behind one’s drive present a subject of philosophical discussion for us, could it be that for companies selecting people with the right drive creates financial benefits?

Looking forward to your comments.

Alex

Starting your business is someone else’s business

August 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The title of this blog post is a paradox. On one hand, trying to start a business is a personal adventure, marked by high aspirations and a notable lack of funds. On the other hand, some entrepreneurs figured out that helping other people to start their business can be a business in itself. And that fact adds complexity to the whole process. Our would be entrepreneurs have to distinguish between people who offer genuine help or good value for the money they ask and people such as themselves, who are just starting their business and at the moment cannot truly help would-be entrepreneurs.

For example, you find a person who was able to start a somewhat successful startup and pay them $300 to speak  your event (or even better: get them to do it for free to promote their business), you rent a room for 3 hours ($300), arrange catering ($200), advertise ($200) and sell tickets to 40 wannabe- entrepreneurs for $50. The profit is $2000-$1000=$1000. Considering young entrepreneurs are very eager to chase their dreams, and are more than willing to pay $50 for a promise of networking and “startup tips”. But the real question is do you get value from your money? Or are you draining your start-up funds and waste the most important resource: your time?

I would argue that an entrepreneur should pay only for tangible services like legal services, marketing services, or technical expertise. Networking clubs and startup tips can be found online and for free. The mere fact that someone fills the room with entrepreneurs does not mean that this event will give you the solution to your business, most likely it will leave you $50 short and wanting to pay for other events of this nature. The point I try to get across is that other people made it their business to sell services to people who seek to start their business. The lesson that many entrepreneurs forget is that some people are not trying to help you, but to make money from you. But as an entrepreneur you must be frugal, since your resources are very limited.

Check this website for more startup tips http://frugalentrepreneur.com/

Source: Cartoonstock.com

Alex

S** sells

August 9, 2012 Leave a comment

I don’t know what you thought this post would be about. But if you are suprised by the content of it, I’ve probably proven a different point than what I originally wanted to make ;-).

The title of this post is “Simplicity sells”.

When you are working on a project, no matter what it is about, you always become the specialist of what you do. You know every detail of it. You know about it’s strengths and applications and you probably also know about it’s weaknesses and exceptions. The downfalls which you knowingly implemented, the one’s that are just not economically to solve and the one’s that you just don’t have a solution for.

It is good to know all of them, because YOU need to know about them when you are executing the project. But does everybody else who isn’t part of the project-team need to know about all of these details as well?

People you are presenting your projects, solutions, and ideas to are interested in the big picture. They want to know what the problem is and why and how you solved it. And when I say “how you solved it”, I mean that more in a “what the solution looks like”-way.

When you get to present or sell something: Keep it simple. Don’t annoy people with details they don’t care about. Communicate your message in a way that everybody who isn’t familiar with the topic at all, can get the idea. Don’t get me wrong: You need to know the details and you need to be prepared to explain them in the case somebody asks for them, as well. It’s just: “If somebody asks for them”…

It’s always better to keep it sharp and short, and stimulate some discussion about details that matter to the audience.

So, simplicity sells…

 

Sebastian

 

Community banking

August 3, 2012 Leave a comment

I remember researching credit unions during a university project in my second year of university in 2005. I was impressed by the ethical notion that many of these community organisations held. For those of you who do not know what a credit union is, I found a nice definition here. Basically they are managed and governed by the community that they serve. This is similar to co-operatives, and it is a business structure and ethic that we may see more of over the coming years.

Over the last several decades the public perception of banking has dwindled to a point where you can’t spend an evening at the pub without someone f’ing and blinding about those bloody bankers!! They were once a well respected pillar of the society- they would know more about your business than you did, they were the go-to person to give advice and support, and if they saw a good investment they would do their utmost to help you out.

As the years have gone on large institutions have moved away from a personalised service in the chase for high profits. Banking has been commoditised. As the large institutions have reigned supreme, the number of customers dissatisfied with their banks has increased significantly. Small businesses have felt the brunt of impersonal service and growth in the SME sector has become stifled. In addition, the nepotism and elitist culture which is rife within the banking hierarchy has got to a point where the void between the boardroom and customer has become so large, there doesn’t appear to be any way back.

Bob Diamond

Bob Diamond – source: the Telegraph

Recently, I’ve been watching a new tv series called Bank of Dave, about a self-made entrepreneur from Burnley, England. Dave set up his own bank in a direct assault on the Goliath high-street banking industry. After nearly a year of planning and overcoming a number of significant obstacles, including the FSA deeming themselves too snobbish to even talk to Dave about his idea, he finally opened his doors to paying customers. Dave began by offering 5% interest on savings (about 4.5% higher than his competitors) and used his personable, positive and friendly manner to attract custom – obviously helped by the press and tv coverage.

Dave is making waves in an industry that has accepted the high-street banks as the norm for way too long. Dave sticks his finger up (literally) at the banks. He listened to the locals in his area and after hearing their concerns and thoughts on the industry, he has offered a service which aims to meet those needs – they want the ‘bank manager’ back.

Dave highlights a grave concern of the UK public; that the banks are in it for themselves. However, recently the Co-operative has taken over around 400 Lloyds TSB branches, a sign that the community orientated organisations are moving up the ladder again. If customer perception of the high-street banks gets worse, which is quite likely, are we going to see more accounts shift back to co-operative’s, credit unions, and financial institutions that offer a more community focus?

Andi