Early on in their careers Martin Walter and Fua Nipah gained experience as managers at an international level. Here the two Vice Presidents talk about intercultural challenges, management style and teamwork.
Well, that is something for those to judge who work with me. One thing is sure, I don't wake up in the morning and say hey, I'm a good manager. It's something you have to keep working on. I reflect on the situation and think about how and why some situations end up well or less well, in fact quite often, not just one day in half a year, but also on the way to work, on the return trip home and even during breaks. A good manager today is not necessarily a good manager tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. The person who is not constantly willing to learn will soon be left behind.
Sometimes when doing sports! As a manager, less often. But for my first management task I did suffer from some inhibitions. As Martin says, you have to constantly keep working towards becoming a good manager. I was very lucky with the management above me. Therefore, at the start I was unsure if I myself would be able to meet those high standards. The recommendation of my father, who is a role model for me when it comes to management matters, was to stay natural and be myself, but also not to underestimate myself. I still try to follow his advice today, and I believe it works quite well.
"As a manager, it is important to learn to take on responsibility for a group and make decisions on their behalf."
After working in Germany, India and China, Fua Nipah has now become Vice President for Global Shared Services at the Ludwigsburg location. In his position the 40-year old manages a team of approx. 460 employees in the MANN+HUMMEL service centers in India and the Czech Republic.
Even today I still feel that age is not important. When I took up my first management position in India, most of my management colleagues were older. I knew that they were more experienced and that I could learn a lot from them, especially with regard to the special local conditions. It is perhaps unusual for someone at my age to have a job with so much responsibility. But at the end of the day it's all about the quality of the work and your performance which helps you to command respect as a manager.
Each of us, young and old, have to earn their position and respect and sometimes also fight for it. I have always tried to show a good example and to clearly communicate the things which are important for me and then to also consistently practice those ideas and demand the same of others. If employees see that you are interested in them and are prepared to back them, they will reward you with their trust, and the team spirit is strengthened.
In my honest opinion, I do not believe that all people from birth are cut out to be a manager. The person must have the passion and ability to lead people. To be a manager also means taking on responsibility for a group of people and to make decisions for those people, something which should not be underestimated.
That's right. In my case it was the lucky linking of my previous tasks which brought me to my current position. Prior to China, I was involved with coordinating the product development in Germany. Then at a lunch I came into contact with the then regional manager for Asia which led to an offer for my position in China. In China, I then again had the opportunity to talk to a manager from the group organization who mentioned the position in India. In terms of content, this position had nothing in common with my previous position, but as he knew my method of operating and my attitude, I was still able to get an offer for the position. Therefore, for me, luck is not totally underserved, but rather a combination of preparation and opportunity.
I have a clear idea of the values which I would like to put into practice and which I would also like to see in my team and my working environment. Transparency, respect and integrity are not just catchwords. For me, it is important to be consistent and to a certain extent predictable in order to provide the people in my environment with security. At the same time, we have to keep an eye on our targets and inspite of all the seriousness still have fun and be able to have a laugh together.
I am an open person. On the one hand, I communicate clearly and openly with my employees and motivate them in their daily life. Committed, entrepreneurially thinking and competent employees are a guarantee for success. On the other hand, I am also performance-oriented. A pleasant atmosphere and good team culture on their own are not enough to maintain success.
There is a certain common denominator. Our MANN+HUMMEL values are right on target. Many of us around the world want to practice these values. The differences are only in the arrangement of the values. The idea of respect, or how to show respect, can mean something completely different in China, India or Germany. Here in Germany, we tend to address topics directly, even when they may have not been totally successful. In China, this could result in a loss of face for those involved. These cultural differences make cooperation very interesting. As a result, intercultural competence is always an increasingly important factor for success – for managers and for companies. It is important every day to push our limits and stay dynamic.