Monday, June 27, 2011
Lederhosen, giant Ferris wheel, Sissi (Empress Elisabeth), The Sound Of Music, Wiener Schnitzel - Welcome to Austria! This alpine country has much more to offer but it would be impossible to mention everything at once. But consider this highlight, for example: In 2010 Vienna, Austria’s capital city, was selected as the city offering the highest quality of life worldwide, closely followed by Zurich, which had previously held the top ranking. The battle for first place continues on a yearly basis.
How am I connected on a personal level to Switzerland? For more than three years now I have been with SWISS, happily aloft in the skies of Switzerland. What I like best of all is to travel privately in our new long-haul Business Class, stretching out in MY two-metre long bed above the clouds. “On the side”, I am responsible for Marketing and Communications in Austria and CEE West, which is our corporate abbreviation for an entire group of countries. And I have to be careful not to forget a single one of them when I recite the list: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia are the countries I look after for SWISS Marketing.
The fields of marketing and communications are firmly anchored in today’s world. There is no getting around them. It is simply unthinkable to NOT communicate. But finding out how to communicate in a targeted away is what inspires my enthusiasm for my work. The challenge is in determining how to communicate convincingly amid today’s flood of information. In Austria this isn’t always quite so easy. One needs to have a good understanding of the proper forms of address in order to achieve one’s objective. It is not uncommon to have to resort to such polite wordings as “Küss die Hand, gnä‘ Frau” or “Gnädiger Herr”, which translate roughly into English as “I kiss your hand, my esteemed lady” or “Esteemed Sir”. That’s just the way we Austrians are – rooted in tradition. Does that sound rather quaint and old-fashioned? Then come and visit us and find out for yourself what life here is really like. I am certain you’ll be positively surprised.
I myself was surprised when, three years ago, I got the chance to join a Swiss company. On my third day with the company I was invited to visit head office and experienced my first eye-opener at the airport when I boarded a bus. The driver greeted me in a friendly way then promptly closed the door behind me and drove off right on time at 08:30:00 (!). Fortunately, I wasn’t still stuck between the doors. Was this an exception? Not at all. One thing I can say about Switzerland is that punctuality is a virtue. And that applies to SWISS, too. So be prepared for doors that shut right on time, and if necessary be prepared to run! And how are the Swiss otherwise? Well, very quiet, relatively easy-going, but they always have their eye on the goal – basically, a little bit like my aforementioned bus driver:
1) friendly and accommodating
3) certain, focussed, and successful
And it is precisely for these reasons that I so enjoy working for a Swiss company. The icing on the cake is the multicultural environment I experience daily through having so many countries to deal with. This makes everything even more varied and fast-moving, as well as more fun; but the job is not without its unique challenges. Empathy and understanding toward other cultures are important elements in my daily work, for even though the countries are close together, there are still certain slight differences to which close attention must be paid. There are a few stories I could relate about surprising first encounters in this regard, but unfortunately there isn’t enough space here.
In closing, I send you a gentle "Servus" from Vienna and wish you all continuing good times at and with SWISS!