Richard Lenthall from voestalpine shared his experiences regarding cooperation in international companies with students of International Business Management (B.A.).
Conducting business in an international environment holds specific challenges and requires special skills, not only when dealing with other companies but also when managing an international team. Hochschule Fresenius’ study course of International Business Management (B.A.) focuses on exactly these situations, challenges and skills. To give students a first-hand account, course director Amit Ray invited Richard Lenthall, Head of Sales and Marketing at voestalpine SIGNALING Siershahn, to the seminar “Human Resource Management” to talk about his career and experience in international companies. Before joining voestalpine, an Austrian tech company active in railway transport across the globe, Lenthall worked for an Amsterdam based gaming company and in London for a US based tech firm specialising in providing broadband internet to the hospitality sector.
DIFFERENCES IN WORKING METHODS
The students were interested in what differences in working methods he encountered over the years. Lenthall, who himself is a Briton and is currently leading an international team, including members from Germany, Austria, Paraguay and Australia, mentioned one difference being that Germans or Austrians tend to start work a lot earlier in the day than British people. Also, Dutchmen usually prefer to work in flat hierarchies whereas in Austria you find stricter hierarchies. Regarding business relations, he said: “With different cultures around the world, you have to establish yourself in a different way. E.g. in Germany people usually tell you in a very straight forward way if they want to buy from you or not – and why not. In the USA it is more about maintaining and reassuring the relationship.”
APPROACH TO NEW CULTURES
The students were also keen to hear about Lenthall’s approach to new cultures. His advice: “Listen and try to get a feel for a person’s culture, what is important to them.” In his experience, this is also important when managing a team. “Try to understand what each person does, how they do it and what their natural motivation is. Then give the people what they need to succeed.”