‘Crash course on American Football’
in: Global Connection
Travelling abroad has always been an important part of his professional life. Emmanuel Buyse (29) worked for 3,5 years from the office of Accenture in Brussels. But most of the time he was more often in the Netherlands with clients than in his native Belgium.
The same thing happened when he was working for 1,5 years from Denmark where his wife Cecilia Damgaard Jensen is from. ‘I was more frequent in Sweden and other countries than in Denmark’, Emmanuel says.
In the summer of 2009 the couple moved to Roanoke, a town with a population of 100,000 in Virginia (USA). His wife was expatriated by Novozymes from Denmark. Emmanuel got a job there too with his employer Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Emmanuel is travelling frequently again as the industrial client he works for at the moment is located in Canada.
‘We work where our clients are based, so this means that I typically get on a plane Monday morning and get back Thursday night on a weekly basis.’
At Accenture Emmanuel is a management consultant. He is an expert in sourcing and procurement. Emmanuel explains: ‘Clients are looking to optimize the way they are running their procurement function. Accenture facilitates projects aiming to enhance clients’ procurement strategies, processes, organization and technology. Also, we can drive sourcing projects from start to finish helping clients achieve goals such as reducing costs, cutting the number of suppliers used, increasing spend-under-contract, ensure better visibility of spend, etc. It is amazing to see that many big and famous companies do not know exactly what they spend their money on’.
Emmanuel had to adapt to the working environment and culture at his current client. ‘When I started working there I had a tough time. As with many clients, they were initially not over-happy about working with consultants. I met some resistance in the beginning but, as we grew closer, our working relation improved a lot – even to the point that I will be very sad when our projects at this client end!’
Fancy European shoes
He admits that he met several intercultural challenges he had to overcome to make his job a success. On the one hand, they were not used to dealing with guys wearing fancy European shoes and talking with strange accents. On the other hand, it took him some time to get used to their no-frills way of doing business. He understood he needed to adapt his style and way of working. The real progress came when they saw that he genuinely wanted to know more about them, their personal lives and the American way of living.
‘What also helped was the crash course I got from my colleagues on American Football. I watched as many games as I could each weekend – being able to talk “guy talk” each Monday morning was a huge step in the right direction.’
His golden tip for other expat partners? ‘Americans definitely appreciate it when newcomers try to show a willingness to integrate and express their appreciation for the positive sides of their country.’