this is an essay about "an achievement from my professional life and why I see it as such?"
Thank you for any feedbacks.
"Respect for the Individual" is an attitude that I carried throughout my life. It reminds me to value the diversity of cultures and always treat people as I would like to be treated myself. This attitude helped me to master a difficult situation I was facing during an international assignment in Asia a couple of years ago.
It was back in 2004 where I took the opportunity to join a large project in Japan. The client, a global telecommunication company, decided to staff an international team of Japanese, Europeans, and US colleagues working onsite in Tokyo. I was leading a group of Japanese and Western colleagues in my role as a team lead for the quality assurance of this project. Hence, it was a challenging situation in a new cultural context for me. Not only that English is not commonly spoken in Japan but also the way communication is conducted is very different. I received an impression during the first week where I participated in controversial meetings with our Japanese colleagues. The confrontation of the reserved mentality of the Japanese with the straightforward talk of the Western colleagues often resulted in escalations where both parties left misunderstood by the other. I realized that if no party is willing to respect the culture of its counterpart the success of the project will be put on risk. Consequently to find a way out of this dilemma I had to craft strategies that bring the people together and enhance the team morale.
Thus, I consciously started going out for lunch all together, which should provide a basis for communication in a more relaxed environment. Even though it is not very common in Japan to have lunch breaks I tried to take everybody with me out to nearby restaurants. It was important for me to have a different surrounding than the company's cafeteria. The informal atmosphere offered a foundation for the colleagues to talk about topics that are mostly not work related. Later on, I organized get-together evenings where we went out after work for dinner or sports. Though there were some early apprehensions, they were eliminated by the positive result it brought. I was very happy to see that my actions resulted into a much better working atmosphere and a successful project delivery. For my part, I had my best moment on the "Bonenkai" - a popular Japanese end of year celebration - when my Japanese team members told me that I am the 'Best Expatriate' he worked with so far.
Now after three years, I consider the experience in Japan as a big achievement and an important step in my career. The fact that I could master the complex situation gave me much self-confidence and showed that I could manage people successfully even in difficult situations. Today, this unique ability of handling teams attributed me as a strong leader for my people. Along with the team management, I also further developed my emotional intelligence, particularly my social awareness and empathy skills. These qualities will continue to be my foundation when pursuing future endeavors in both my academic and career aspirations.