Nov 05, 2017
There and Back – Comparing Experience and Work Culture
Ana Prokic, Project Manager at HTEC Group
Ana talks about her experience in these two very different countries, and the differences between the working practices and cultures, as well as her work-life balance, and the expectations she had of the two companies.
Ana Prokic, one of HTEC’s renown project managers, had an interesting opportunity of working abroad and has decided to tell us more about her experience. It has been two years now since she decided to return from Germany, and making this decision was not as easy as everyone would think. Ana talks about her experience in these two very different countries, and the differences between the working practices and cultures, as well as her work-life balance, and the expectations she had of the two companies.
I decided to change the company because I felt that all my creativity would get swallowed up.
“I had an amazing opportunity to gain my first work experience in Germany, which I accepted with no hesitation. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy since this was my first job. Also, I had to work speaking foreign languages (English and German). Moreover, the working culture was different, and I was away from my family and friends, which made my experience even more challenging. I knew from the start that if I proved myself right then and there that the sky would be my limit. So, I decided to turn this into a personal challenge and was determined to start the adventure.
I started working three days after I graduated from the Faculty of Electronic Engineering in Nis, Serbia. The company I worked for was not a big international corporation, but a traditional middle-sized German company. Here the difference in mentality and culture were quite obvious. I liked the German discipline and their way of working according to strictly defined rules, so I had no trouble fitting in.
However, the overly-formal way of communicating with colleagues was a bit too exaggerated for my taste. And what I found most unappealing after I have already gained certain experience, was the fact that Germans tend to stick to their already proven, but somewhat old-fashioned principles of leading the projects. This also applies to the tools and technologies used. It seems as if they are fighting to accept the changes, which is quite unacceptable in the age where everything is done in an agile way and evolves at an unbelievable speed.
So, after almost four years of working experience in Germany, I decided to change the company because I felt that all my creativity would get swallowed up. I never considered Serbia as an option, as I was too used to German working habits and their discipline. However, I was aware that I would have to face the frigid working culture at the next working place in Germany, as well. Therefore, I decided to reconsider the options I had outside of Germany. Luckily, I received some excellent recommendations from the people working in HTEC in Serbia. I realized that applying my German experience there would actually be a good idea.
Comeback and contribution
What attracted me the most was the company’s ideology and the fact that it dealt with the newest technologies and tools. HTEC was at the time working on a great variety of different projects and with different clients. The size of the company was promising.
The company left room for promotion and advancement and was again small enough for me to leave a mark.
The company left room for promotion and advancement and was again small enough for me to leave a mark. What I could contribute to the company, and I had in Germany taken for granted, was my knowledge of the language. Knowing the language, the working culture and the expectations of German clients was something that would come as more than useful for both the company and me.
I decided to come back to Serbia at the time all young people were thinking of going abroad to work. Many found my decision strange because they idealized something they had not yet experienced. They have only heard stories about Germany being a promised land. For some professions, Germany may be a promised land, but as far as IT goes, it indeed isn’t. You can build an excellent career in Serbia if you find the right company and a prosperous at that.
Every environment has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s just a matter of priorities you have at a certain phase of your life. I am very pleased to have made this decision. The move to a more dynamic environment, which HTEC has, is even more inspiring and motivating. The projects I currently work on are challenging. They enable me to participate by sharing my ideas. If this weren’t so, the collection of requests without any personal contribution would demotivate me. HTEC gives me freedom, as well as the clients I work with. And am endlessly grateful for the opportunity and the trust these people inspire.”