Bavarian mindset meets the Japanese sense of life

Have you always wanted to see how the Chinese go about their work? Or do you regard the USA as your dream country? With “Across Borders”, Krones AG’s internal exchange programme, the firm aims to upgrade its staff’s intercultural sensitivities and language skills. In addition, participants have an opportunity to gain career experience abroad. It’s also important that the staff involved do some international networking and get together to handle their projects on a basis of long-term efficacy. We’ve talked to the five participants concerned. Today, we’re introducing you to Franziska Rinser and her work in Japan.

IMG_0953Bavarian mindset meets the Japanese sense of life – normally, Franziska Rinser works in New Machine Sales Asia-Pacific at the facility in Neutraubling, where for three years she’s been responsible for the Japanese market. “A highly multifaceted and wide-ranging job” as she puts it. But back home she doesn’t often get to visit the erection sites.  In Japan, it’s different: “Over here, you have a lot more direct contact with the clients, you work more closely together with the service people, and if the client has any problems you get to grips with them directly on the spot.” Any problems, of course, need to be cleared up as quickly as possible. Which is why Franziska also sees herself as a connecting link between Japan and her homeland. “I can phone Germany and explain precisely what’s gone wrong. That’s efficient, and saves my colleagues lots of unnecessary discussions.”

IMG_0902Since 6 January, Franziska Rinser has been in Japan, or to be more precise in the metropolis of Tokyo. “I was made to feel very welcome. Hiroko, the secretary of the Krones President here, helped me to find an apartment.” Meanwhile, the 25-year-old is living in a 28-square-metre flat in Azabu-Jūban directly next to the Tokyo Tower. From there, she needs about 20 minutes to reach the subsidiary in Gotanda. Only in the rush hour does it mostly take longer. “Then I prefer to use the bus and not the underground, because I want to avoid all the shoving and jostling.

IMG_0761Some time after 9 a.m., the elective Japanese on a six-month posting begins her working day. And she’s one of the first to arrive at the office. “The Japanese are not really into mornings”, says a smiling Franziska. “Conversely, no one goes home before seven o’clock in the evening.” If you’re thinking that a high-tech country like Japan will have a state-of-the-art time recording system, you could hardly be more wrong. In Tokyo, an old stamping system using file-cards and a big, handwritten absence board have been giving faithful dependable service for years

The projects in Japan aren’t all that different from those in Germany. At the moment, she’s dealing with the shipment and installation of several machines. Amongst all the tight interlocking deadlines, occasionally something gets forgotten. Then she also looks after coordinating complaints processing, chasing some missing part consignments or procuring spares. “This means I go out to the sites quite often, and talk to the people there, attend meetings, so I have the information I need to help the IMG_0774clients and my colleagues.”

Franziska laid the foundations for her participation in Across Borders over the last three years as part of the Asia-Pacific Sales Team. “In my daily work, I have plenty of opportunities to display initiative, independence and responsibility, since I’m given a lot of freedom by my manager.” Three characteristics that come in handy now at the subsidiary in Japan. “We’re living eight hours into the future here, so I can’t always get hold of someone in Germany straight away.”

When asked what’s the biggest surprise she’s had so far, Franziska doesn’t hesitate: “I was in a salsa dance bar one evening. I was astonished to see how harmoniously the Japanese move to the IMG_0874South American rhythms.” People here, she adds, attach great importance to harmony. Though Franziska had experienced Japanese hospitality before, it was only now that she came to appreciate how generous, solicitous and helpful they are. Nevertheless, her watchword is: due respect yes, servility NEVER – a motto she had learned beforehand in her intercultural training. In other words: Bavarian mindset, humour and charm have invariably met with approbation – both in business meetings and in private get-togethers – even though there are always certain rules that need to be duly heeded.

To understand these rules even better, the Krones ambassadress to the Land of the Rising Sun takes Japanese lessons twice a week. She’s very keen to communicate effectively with her IMG_0768colleagues and hone her language skills. “At least I can now ask my way to the right underground train”, says a smiling Franziska. She tries out her newly acquired Japanese on occasional outings and when seeking out new leisure activities. “I’m going to a fitness studio now, and I do a bit of jogging now and then.” There’s only one hobby she won’t be taking up: “Plenty of Japanese play golf. With a club and a ball. Only they don’t do it outdoors. They hit the balls as hard as they can against a big screen. I’ve decided I have other things to do with my spare time …”