All managers achieve results through the people they manage and influence. Managing effectively across-cultures is even more challenging than operating just in your own culture.
With an audience of more than 25 people, Mr. Berque covered the most critical challenges faced by managers in an international environment.
The 3 challenges encountered by managers are the complexity of the environment, the diversity of the environment and the search for consensus.
I. The complexity of the environment
He highlighted that International organisations have extremely complex structures and systems of hierarchy which are difficult for executives to both read and apprehend. Such systems have blurred
boundaries and various layers that interplay and which will impact on leadership, time and communication. « There are subtleties, with which the managers will be confronted, and which they will
not grasp for some time. »
Hence, the need for a mentor. « Having someone with more experience to help managers guide along the way is invaluable ! ». The mentor can be of any age, but the most effective mentor is someone approximately 10 years ahead of you in your career willing to share past mistakes. « A person at this level will know how to navigate the organisation at the spot you’re at, and will remember what it is like being in your shoes. »
II. The diversity of the environment
He also explained that « when you start working internationally on an assignment or in a project team, you will be struck by the cultural and individual differences in management values and
behaviour. » The question is how to build unity form diversity ?
He stressed the fact that if effective managers need to be qualified in their own area of expertise, which is part of the "hard skills" of management, there are also some necessary "soft skills" such as interpersonal skills. The importance of interpersonal skills in the search for dialogue should prevail in the daily work routine. In other words, it is important for the manager to adopt flexible and shared communication with colleagues, and to practise active listening. « It sounds obvious but very few managers are going through the 6 steps of active listening and interacting. Unlike reading, writing and speaking, active listening is something we are never explicitly taught!”
One of his slides showed the audience how misunderstandings easily occur and how difficult it can be to repair the damage later on. That is why the importance of a clear communication should prevail in the daily work routine!
III. The search for consensus
The search for consensus is the third main feature of the international environment, according to Mr. Berque.
He said that « Searching for a common position is not easy. It does not require that all stakeholders agree but at least there should be a predominant trend for acceptable and endurable solution. »
He shared with the audience that success in international business is not about having the most brilliant answer ; « But it is about having a collaborative and workable solution and that requires making people work together. »
It is about « to connect you and your team! ». Face-to-face interaction makes a difference. « If your colleagues feel that you are taking into account their views they will become your partners. Consequently, they will be more willing to adopt your plans and/or projects.»
Finally he concluded by saying that all progress in negotiations begins when, at least, one party is willing to place what is really good on the table. “From there, it is much easier to know where to begin and how to lead the discussion to a mutually beneficial end.”
Thanks to Mariette and Diane for a very vivid presentation and discussion around their Region as a potential gateway to North America.
With an audience of more than 20 people, including Evan G. Reade, US Consul General in Strasbourg, Mr. Bach covered the most critical challenges faced by the American Educational System at the University level today: the integration of immigrants, financial inequalities & the student-debt issue and the strive for more diversity (Affirmative Action).
He also gave interesting insights on how French and American Universities differ, for example differences in their cost, how open they are to the world and how classes are taught. One key trend he highlighted was how the profile of American students is evolving: they are older, working part-time, taking longer to complete their studies, in line with the United States being “a country of 2nd and 3rd chances”. Unlike in France, studies in the US don't need to be linear and students have the flexibility to jump from one field to another if need be.
He also shared with us two recent phenomena that may spread to the rest of the world. First, the development of “for-profit” institutions which are less selective and attract modest students who, in most cases, take up major loans. An example is the University of Phoenix, which has 328,000 students spread over 112 sites in the US and provides classes that are mainly online. Second, the advent of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses): this trend, started in 2011 by a Stanford Professor, is spreading fast globally and threatening traditional universities, as hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have access to free classes online by top-notch Professors!
What Mr. Bach sees as the advantages of American Universities are their increasing global scope, their capacity to adapt faster to changes as they are less specialized than their French counterparts and their better attunement to the needs of businesses. Finally, he concluded by insisting that English language graduate programs across the world are the way to go in the future.
Our most sincere thanks to Mr. Bach for providing us with exciting food for thought about such a critical topic as Education.
What a beautiful day!
Our conference on September 14th was the opportunity to discover and better understand the importance of the infrastructures of the Port du Rhin.
Welcomed by Mr. Laurent Darley, Operations Director of the Port, Lionel Husser, the Terminal manager and their captain, the audience enjoyed a cruise through the basins of the Port by a beautiful Friday afternoon, with a remarkable conference on the activities and strategy of the Port.
What a nice way to put an end to the summer and to regain optimism for our business activities!
On May 31st, 2012, 25 Members and Friends of AmCham, mostly women for once, attended a conference given by Dagmar Doring, Managing Director of Axel Performance, on
Influencer™: a proven methodology providing strategies for changing human behavior at work or at home.
Based on thorough long-term research, this method is not a “magic stick” but makes you think and reflect on how to make change successful and enduring. Through interactive examples, Dagmar gave us an overview of how the model, voted “MIT Change Management Approach of the Year 2009”, is applicable in many situations or for many projects, be it in IT, Manufacturing, Sustainability or in your personal life.
She shared how being a leader requires to be an influencer, how influencing requires to change behaviors, how changing behaviors requires to establish new habits and how new habits almost always require new skills.... she provided lots of good insights, insisting as an example on how important it is to include opinion leaders, role models and enablers in your projects to anchor change. She talked about the concept of “Sources of Influence”, key to the method: in fact, the 5% of people who succeed in driving major change use 4 or more of these Sources of Influence....
The interaction between the presenters and the audience was very open, providing for a cheerful and positive atmosphere. And the presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session and, as usual, by drinks and snacks provided by AmCham: a nice opportunity for informal interactions and networking within the audience.
A special thanks to HSBC who provided us again with a nice meeting room, very favorable to learning and sharing.
If you want to know more about the Influencer™ methodology and about Sources of Influence, please contact Axel Performance at 03 88 66 66 70 or at email@example.com and ask for Dagmar Doring or Cathia Birac, both Managing Directors.
On February 21st, 2012, an audience of more than 25 Members and Friends of AmCham attended a conference given by Patrick Dancourt, European Procurement Director at Steelcase and President of AmCham Alsace Lorraine, on the proven US Lean & Green program adopted and adapted in Alsace since 2010.
Patrick first shared the history and principles of the “Lean & Green” program started by the American EPA in 2004 with the creation of a Green Suppliers Network, then covered the origins of the program in Alsace and its development under the leadership of ADIRA with the close support of Steelcase and GM.
The program aims at seeking efficiencies in the production process, which in turn reduce waste and bring along cost savings: it starts with an audit of volunteer suppliers by an external consultant who identifies opportunities for improvement in terms of industrial and environmental performance. Results are of course confidential and the implementation of recommendations remains at the sole discretion of the audited company. Twenty Alsatian companies and their suppliers have participated so far, of which 7 Champions present in the Region: Steelcase, GM, Kraft, Soprema, Merck Millipore, Salm and Alstom.
In Alsace, 6 Key Ratios such as “Co2 emissions over Sales” were chosen to measure performance, enabling participating companies to benchmark themselves against each other. Metrics are being tracked by the INSA and so far have shown clear measurable progress.
Going forward, the plan is to create a “Lean & Green” Club to continue to share experiences, spread the word and deliver positive results. All in all, an exciting program that builds on US learnings to further enhance the competitiveness of companies present in Alsace.
If you want to know more about the Lean & Green program and how to join it, please contact Sébastien Leduc, 03 88 52 82 84 or firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the great advantages of being officially a Member of AmCham Alsace Lorraine is to be able to participate to unique events: this was the case of the “Executive Breakfast” with the Consul General of the United States in Strasbourg, Evan G. Reade, which took place on Dec 6th at the Hilton. 8 of our members were able to meet and greet Mr Reade around a casual breakfast and to share perspectives on relationships between Alsace and the United States and how to build stronger ties. The participants first had the opportunity to present themselves and their companies. Vincent Froehlicher, Managing Director of ADIRA, then gave a very complete overview of Alsace's key assets for the Consul General and examples of exciting projects focused on innovation currently being led around the Region. He also drew a portrait of the Alsatians and their strong sense of identity, unique in France. Mr Reade then presented himself and explained what his role is, as well as his priorities. Finally, all agreed that how AmCham and the General Consulate could best cooperate is around organizing value-added conferences for members that could leverage potential visits from American Officials to Strasbourg and to the Council of Europe. All in all, a very insightful breakfast with the US Consul General, whom we thank very sincerely for his time and help.
On April 13, AmCham Alsace-Lorraine members were invited to a private evening at Heineken’s historical Brasserie de l’Esperance in Schiltigheim founded in 1862. The event started with an upbeat presentation by Stève Acker, in charge of Communication at Heineken Entreprise, who covered Heineken’s history, Global position, French Branding strategy and Sustainability efforts. The talk was followed by a lively Q&A session as participants showed sheer interest in the brewing industry! An interest which intensified as they were led through a visit of Heineken’s historical brewing hall – the most ancient in France - and impressive production site… and culminated with a beer tasting session expertly animated by Stève himself. All in all, an enjoyable event made possible thanks to the support of Valentine Brau, Communication Manager, Heineken Entreprise.
On January 12th, AmCham members and friends attended the traditional New Year Reception given by the Honorable Consul of the United States, Mr. Vincent P. Carver.
The evening was the first opportunity to officially welcome the new President of Lilly France who has recently relocated to Strasbourg from their home in Indianapolis, IN.
Vincent Froehlicher, President of AmCham Alsace-Lorraine, meanwhile announced the launch of the “Business Tools in English” executive training program, as well as the new website. Mr. Froehlicher went on to mention that the website’s content will be developed to include - amongst other topics – economic news and information concerning the Alsace and Lorraine regions. The assembled guests were then free to meet and greet each other over cocktails. The theme of the evening, the colors of the US flag, was particularly well-executed not least due to the delicious mini-burgers that were on offer.
Last October we were happy to welcome the Honorable Charles H. Rivkin and the US Consul in Strasbourg, Mr. Vincent P. Carver to a special Executive Breakfast, together with twenty key commercial players of the regional economy.
The Breakfast provided the ideal opportunity for the invitees to embark on a full and frank discussion on a wide range of commercial and economic subjects with the Ambassador. Examples of subjects discussed were the USA FDA regulations concerning Genetically-Modified foods compared with France; as well as some of the latest economic reforms made by the current French government.
The invitees were impressed with the Ambassadors' frankness, candidness and enthusiasm regardless of subject.
The Chapter continued its relevant business programming on July 1 when "KISS: Keeping It Simple—Say a Lot or Say a Little but Say it Successfully,” presented by Gee Ranasinha, CEO of Kexino, focused on today's "empowered consumers" and what they can tell you about your organization (and your competition). The event addressed this “not-so-quiet revolution” and the new approaches to the marketplace that can help prevent commercial catastrophe.
With the valued support of the U.S. Consulate in Strasbourg, AmCham France Alsace-Lorraine staged its traditional Independence Day Party on June 26—an exciting way for members and their families to kick-off the summer season, celebrate America's history of personal and economic freedom and prove, once again, that life is more than merely business.
The May 28th 2010 morning workshop addressed the human dimension of today's globalized businesses. Patricia EPP, CEO of Perspectiva, a Strasbourg-based consultancy dedicated to intercultural training and coaching, spoke on “Cross-Cultural Management: Understanding French-American Business Cultures.” Epp shared personal experience and practical insights regarding human interaction in international business. Her work—bringing French and American business leaders to a better understanding of one another's psychology and behavior—encourages effective, creative, collaboration. Provoking lively reaction, the topic made for an animated AmCham event and a good start to the day.
Hosted on May 18th 2010 by Vincent Froehlicher, Chair of AmCham Alsace-Lorraine, in co-operation with Finareg and ADIRA, “Crossing the Atlantic: Strategic, Financial, Juridical and Fiscal Considerations” featured John Piret of Newbury Piret & Co., supported by Steven P. Eichel of Choate Hall & Stewart LLP. Messrs. Piret and Eichel highlighted the current business climate and renewed international M&A activity, noting that with markets abroad beckoning, company survival may depend on scale. The ensuing discussion centered on the opportunities, risks and potential advantages afforded by the current era of globalization and freer trade.