During the last year, which was also my first year at Deloitte as a consultant in Financial Risk Management, I had been given the opportunity to work in the Caribbean. This has been an amazing experience! We were asked to help and advise a local bank to control different impacts of a certain accounting standard. Next to the fact that you can go abroad for work, which is an experience in itself, I learned a lot more besides the project related content.
Working towards the same goal
For this project our team consists of people from Deloitte firms based in Curacao, South Africa and the Netherlands. The managers on the project are from the different Deloitte member firms. We get along well, partially because we are working towards the same goal. It is like working with your colleagues from the Netherlands as you are working towards reaching that shared goal. However, we found out that even though we all work for the same firm, there are some cultural differences.
Overcoming differences in communications was a challenge we were ready to accept
Overcoming cultural differences
In the Netherlands we tend to be more direct, something that can be perceived as quite blunt. Personally I like this direct approach. People in other cultures often tend to find this directness offensive and are more likely to use a different approach. An approach I experienced was one that is more contextual - I often had trouble understanding all and everyone’s expectations.
But since we are all professionals and enjoy working together in teams, overcoming differences in communications was a challenge we were ready to accept. We sat down to agree to the fact that our interpretations of clear communication differ. And we discussed a manner in which we all felt comfortable. I asked for clear guidance on what needs to be done, and I learned to manage these expectations using multiple ways (direct or more chit chattery).
View from Deloitte Willemstad office
Enjoying working abroad
As we are usually on the island for more than one week, I also get to spent some weekends there. Our local colleagues invite us to events through which you really get to know the culture of the island. If there is no event that weekend, or during the week, we always try and enjoy the island itself. Which is obviously not a hard task!
For me it was a great lesson in managing someone else’s expectations. People differ. This experience taught me to not only try to read people, but also to ask them whether they are comfortable in the way you communicate to them. It was a great lesson to learn in an even greater environment. I can’t wait to go back and work alongside my colleagues from different member firms!
Pieter van Dusseldorp
In October 2018 I started writing my thesis within the Financial Risk Management team (FRM). After finishing my thesis and being a working student for two months, I started as a consultant within FRM. Currently I’m working on a Credit Risk project and an Insurance Risk project, both being located in the Caribbean.