International talent

A challenge and enrichment for corporate culture

A pressing problem for many companies is the lack of skilled workers and labour. There are many ways to counteract this shortage. One possible way forward is to integrate international talent. However, to make this work, a number of challenges need to be overcome. This begins with the company language, which all employees have to master, continues with the bureaucratic processes, and by no means ends with integration into everyday working life. 

f.l.: Sabine Wojcieszak (getNext IT), Muhammad Adnan (wobe-systems), Pooja Murarka (former wobe-systems), Björn Latte (wobe-systems)

One company that has been working with international specialists for years is wobe-systems GmbH in Kiel. This topic is particularly close to the heart of co-founder and managing director Maik Wojcieszak. ‘At wobe-systems, we have had international specialists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China for years.’ The contact to these talented people did not come about through traditional recruiting. ‘We taught DevOps in the Master of Information Engineering (MIE) course at Kiel University of Applied Sciences and thus got in touch with the students automatically. And, among them, there were many students from abroad. Some of them then found their way to us through student work or their theses.’ Recruiting international specialists is a topic in itself. When it comes to job interviews, for example, we should not rely solely on experiences with domestic applicants. People from different cultural backgrounds often get a different impression of each other. Feedback in the application process from people with the same cultural background is therefore particularly recommended. 

Once international specialists have been found, they have to be integrated into everyday working life – and that does not happen all on its own. There are a number of challenges, both bureaucratic and in terms of collaboration itself.

So how can these challenges be overcome?

1.     Understanding others 

It is very important to understand others. And that applies reciprocally. So, just as it is important to understand international specialists, it is of course also necessary to pay attention to the needs of domestic specialists. ‘At wobe-systems, we create a framework for getting to know each other. We plan joint activities to learn more about the people we work with every day. In this way, we learn what matters to others and mutual trust and even friendships are created. Solutions to specific challenges, such as administrative hurdles in Germany, are sometimes found within the team. Of course, we also offer support for complicated problems.’

A common language is naturally also important for mutual understanding. ‘We support all employees in improving their English, because it is a prerequisite for us as an internationally active company and because people coming from abroad are more likely to speak English than German. Of course, we also help our international colleagues to learn German.’ 

2.     Common values

Shared values are indispensable for cooperation based on trust. These are not, or not only, the so-called corporate values, but are values that are important to everyone in the team. We have developed these core values together with Sabine from getNext IT. External help is important here in case the company does not have the competence and experience to moderate this sensitive discussion.

‘Our core values can be found in a team charter for all new employees. They are explained, discussed and critically questioned again and again. Mutual trust is a prerequisite for working together successfully.’ 

3.     Achieving objectives together

Defining and achieving goals together is important for identification and business. International specialists have more to cope with than just integrating into the new corporate culture. There are also many challenges outside work. Achieving goals and, above all, celebrating together when goals are achieved creates a certain mindset, which in turn facilitates collaboration. ‘We always provide our new colleagues with mentors.’ Incidentally, regardless of whether they are international or national talents. The mentors help with questions and problems and give feedback respectfully and on an equal footing. The feedback provides guidance and helps build confidence and trust. ‘By the way, we Germans are known for our blunt feedback. In many countries this direct approach is unusual. This can easily lead to misunderstandings. It is therefore important that both sides recognise and take this cultural difference into account.’ 


Maik Wojcieszak has had many good experiences with his international colleagues. In addition, friendships have developed that have endured regardless of company affiliation

wobe-systems GmbH

  • Founded: 2001
  • Registered office: Kiel
  • Employees: 18
  • Services: Software solutions for industrial automation and system and data integration
  • Industry: Information and communication technology
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