After graduating from University of Indonesia with a Bachelor of Engineering degree, Aswita WULANDARI SARAGIH joined the Energy Generation Program (EGP) at Schneider Electric. She is now continuing her early career journey by working under Business Development team, managing Business Intelligence for Schneider Electric Indonesia. In this blog article she shares her international assignment experience with Schneider Electric.
Joining a multicultural working environment
I am glad to have passed my 2 years of progressive learning & exposure through the Schneider Electric’s Energy Generation Program (EGP). 2018 has been a self-fulfilling journey with various uniquely challenging tasks and especially so as I had my international assignment to Thailand – the Country of Smiles!
Although it was only a 3-hours flight away from home, I felt a surreal mix of foreign and fantasy as the 4-month period seemed like a year. All those stretchy feelings grew as I enjoyed every bittersweet of my life there. It was a story with lots of multicultural twist in between.
I am personally a big advocate of diversity within the society, and being in a multicultural working environment empowers me to work and learn better. Strategic Business Intelligence (BI) was assigned to me for four months. I worked specifically on a project about competitor analysis. Visiting our customers with my BI manager was a very interesting exposure. Having returned from the visits, we usually discussed the progress with our director. The discussion was nothing short of interesting exchanges, as my team consisted of 3 different nationalities; French, Thai and Indonesian. After two months, we successfully wrapped up the project. Now our BI team on the zone level is interested in learning more about our project.
Language barrier was the first challenge I needed to deal with. Due to my physical resemblance to a Thai lady, people were inclined to converse in Thai language with me. Day by day I improved my Thai conversation skill, thanks to my surroundings & the internet. Eventually I could finally brave myself on communicating it at restaurants or even during taxi rides. During office hours or market visits, I encountered an average of 1-hour meeting with Thai language and understood none. If you happen to experience the same case, the sensible approach would be to empathize, sense their gesture and follow up after.
My daily life abroad would not be memorable without my EGP peer from South Korea. We have built an indescribable connection throughout our experiences, and we constantly inspired each other to be better people. He works in the Sales team and therefore his point of view was very insightful for me, and my knowledge about business was for him. Interestingly we found that our personality differences could blend together as we switched hobbies, favorite food and many more. Embracing the culture together as foreigners (in Thai they termed it “Farang”) with him was truly enjoyable and I treasured every moment of it.
There is nothing to worry about working abroad alone, especially when you are still very young. Schneider Electric is a globally well-connected community that supports your endeavors within the company. Who knows that you could meet a like-minded and compatible soul like how I met him? You will also find peers within your like-minded group so long as you open-up your curious mind to your surroundings. We live in increasingly digital world. Finding mutual friends and new activities through Mobile Applications is also safe nowadays.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
I struggled with some core skills that I was just learning in the work place. But my chair-mates, two young European colleagues (a French and a Dutch) would come to my rescue! They were really supportive during my assimilation period.
Being part of company events is something that I would always recommend for anyone to participate in. Recently, Schneider Thailand celebrated the “International Day”, where at that time I had a chance to be the Master-of-Ceremony (MC) while donning on my country’s traditional costume. It was uplifting and cured my home sickness. Truthfully, I must admit that being immersed in a foreign environment became a massive source of energy. It fueled my inner self.
Aspirations for the future
Indeed, Schneider Electric has a great career development program for the aspiring university graduates & students. After my EGP experience, I aspire to build my own international career path. I’m currently enrolled in the “Catalyst Program” to accelerate my career further with the company. I certainly look forward to another amazing development journey ahead. Wish me luck!
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