How I helped connect teams across continents
“The IT team of SD Connect was one of the first in Belgium to work closely with our counterparts in Mauritius, a new addition to the SD Worx family”, explains Sven Erkens, Unit Manager of SD Connect at SD Worx, when asked about the beginning of his international adventure. “As the beginning is always the hardest, there was some noise in the communication and collaboration process. In between my roles as team leader and now unit manager, I was asked to go to Mauritius for three months to bridge the gap as a liaison officer.
“As a child of expats, I had lived longer abroad than in Belgium when I reached my majority. I have always loved international mindsets, which was why I was one of the first to volunteer for the international IT team at SD Worx. So, even though I first had to puzzle out childcare logistics during the summer holiday, I jumped at the offer. Three weeks later, in the second half of June 2018, I boarded a plane to Mauritius.”
– Sven Erkens, Unit Manager of SD Connect at SD Worx
“Because business culture in Mauritius is more oriented toward large enterprises – a lot of big players are represented there – the focus mainly lies on the execution”, Sven continues. “As a result, work processes are essential. By contrast, Belgian workers are more familiar with SME company culture, where ideas can be rolled out quickly without needing formal approval at various hierarchical levels. In Mauritius, formal processes are more appropriate. So, we had to level out both ways of working – and we did so with success. Both teams realised that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Since then, both sides involve the other team players from the start and work in close consultation with each other.”
More than just work
“Mauritius is a gorgeous island,” asserts Sven, reminiscing about the time he spent there. “The people are so friendly and willing to help. What struck me as a nice example of their thoughtfulness: when it’s your birthday in Belgium, you usually treat your colleagues. In Mauritius, it’s the other way around.
And although all visitors are seen as tourists, I was there to work – and I worked pretty long days too, since I wanted my Belgian colleagues working in another time zone to be able to reach me. Combined with the housekeeping, there wasn’t much time for anything else.”
“Of course, during the weekends, I relaxed and explored the island. My Mauritian co-workers gave me plenty of inside tips, and a few of them even took me on a road trip. When they were recently here for training, I returned the favour and took them in my Jeep to Dinant, a picturesque city in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Since they speak French, I thought they would be able to communicate, but the accents were completely different! That didn’t work out, but it was such great fun. On both occasions, we had a wonderful time. I am grateful for this experience because it has really brought our teams together.”