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East meets West: When two cultures come closer together

Two participants in a talent exchange program run by KION APAC share what it is like to work in a culture quite different from their own.


With technology such as Skype and the Microsoft Surface Hub, connecting with colleagues from anywhere in the world has become much easier. Yet, KION APAC’s talent exchange program wants to take the next step in bringing cultures together. By encouraging employees to learn and benefit from a variety of cultures, languages and perspectives found within KION, the company hopes to promote closer cooperation. After all, international cooperation, groupwide transfer of knowledge and promotion of personal development are a recipe for securing KION’s strong position globally and help us to continue expanding our presence on the various markets. Learn all about the two colleagues’ most important take-aways while participating in APAC’s talent exchange program, “East meets West”.

“In China, anything is possible."

Laurent Cayron, who has been a group leader in Electric Development at Fenwick-Linde in Châtellerault, France, has always been fascinated with China ever since a Chinese exchange student stayed with his family for two years. “We were her second family and she was like a daughter to us. This very interesting experience was my first introduction to Chinese people and their way of life and thus it became part of my motivation to go there myself,” explains Cayron. In addition, his expertise in lithium-ion made him an ideal candidate for APAC’s talent exchange program in Xiamen. In China, he is currently leading a team of five electrical engineers who are responsible for the electrical design of all trucks developed in Xiamen. It was not long before he came to realize that in China, “everything is possible.”

The Frenchman was particularly impressed with his Chinese colleagues’ attitude towards work and their eagerness to learn and easily adapt to new situations. “I really appreciate the opportunity to lead and coach a team working on an innovative project, which also gets me out of my comfort zone and helps me to improve myself.” For him, the exchange program has been a win-win situation: His Chinese colleagues learn more about technical matters, agility principles and receive support about their creative ideas while he has also made adjustments to his way of thinking and working. “It is the best way to improve our products to meet local needs.”

“I’m impressed with the tremendous positive attitude of my US colleagues”

While Cayron has been plunging deeper into Chinese culture, Huaxin (Hank) Huang moved from China to the US in 2017. He has been working as a senior supply chain specialist at KION North America (NA) for two years. His original goal was to increase his knowledge, learn more ways to work from other countries and improve his communication skills. “With the great support from my colleagues, I feel more confident taking on more responsibilities and creating solutions on my own,” notes Huang about his progress at KION NA. In addition to broadening his professional skills, he has been able to teach his American colleagues about his own culture. His efforts were highly appreciated and even earned him the KAP (KION Appreciation Program) President’s Award, which honors employees for their outstanding contributions to the company’s success. “I’m glad to be part of an organization that recognizes the importance of building cultural competence in the workplace.” Huang’s contract officially lasts until March 2020 but he hopes to stay a little longer to make even more progress and continue to exchange his experiences and cultural traditions with his colleagues.

Cultural understanding, global competitiveness

Real cultural competence develops over time and the best lessons usually come from personally experiencing other cultures. “The talent exchange program is one way we believe we can cultivate the cultural understandings needed to stay competitive in today’s global market,” says Ching Pong Quek, Chief Asia Pacific Officer. Exchanges offer professionals the opportunity to gain valuable intercultural and international experience while extending their personal business network. They also gain a better understanding of local customers and trends. Best of all, employees who successfully complete the program become cultural ambassadors within the organization.

In addition to the experience and networks gained professionally, time abroad is generally a personal enrichment for the participants. Even after three years in China, Laurent and his family still have many places left to visit. “We hope to get more opportunities to visit other cities in China before going back to France because it really is an amazing country.”