Greetings from Germany

by Noë van Bergen, winner of the Egemin ie-net Award 2013

To finish the tour around the different European Egemin offices, I bring a two week visit to Bremen, Germany. I was happy to go back to the country where I studied and lived for one year, although the northern region was completely new to me. After a hearty welcome from the entire crew, I was ready to start.

As the beating heart of the European industry, Germany is an interesting but challenging market. Challenging in the way they have a strong mechanical engineering tradition and a preference for domestic high quality products. Therefore it was a great chance for me to meet some German clients and experience the no-nonsense, direct but correct relation between salesman and customer.

Beside those customer visits, I picked up points of attention when making offers, managing maintenance and its administration, planning the marketing strategy and doing project coordination, in which time scheduling is crucial. Hurricane Xaver however made a proper mess of my own time schedule by forcing the entire port of Hamburg to be evacuated, making it impossible for us to do a Warehouse Distribution Centre (WDS) maintenance together with the technicians. Luckily the consequences of the storm were not as bad as expected.

In a country that attaches great value to their own particularity in a market with big established competitors, the importance of understanding the customers’ expectations and way to treat one another cannot be overestimated. Let’s say that is the only reason why I was forced to explore the surroundings. As I took this responsibility serious, I had no other choice than going out and eat Bremer Grünkohl mit Pinkel, celebrating my birthday in the city center with my brother, going to the sold out Werder Bremen – Bayern München game (0-7!) and having a Glühwein with the German colleagues in one of the many cosy Christmas markets.

During these two weeks I experienced how awkward it can be to go out and have dinner in a restaurant on your own. It takes a while to get used to it, but at the same time you force yourself to come out of your comfort zone and meet both strange and interesting people, which makes the effort always worth it.

Meanwhile the first part of my internship has come to an end. In four months time my habitat transformed from college into an international industrial context. More and more I start to understand how the organization functions internally, what drives the people and what is important to keep in mind in order to make Egemins’ ambitious internationalization successful.

Now it is time for phase two: Egemin USA. As I leave on the second of January already, I’m getting more and more excited. Next time you will find out how I like my new home in Holland, Michigan, where I will live for the following three months. The only thing left for me to say, is to thank all Egemin employees I met till now for their interest, enthusiasm and helpfulness. I wish you a merry Christmas and all the best for 2014!