Diversity Diaries – Chapter 1: Jessi
With approximately 330 employees in our three locations in Stuttgart, Berlin and Lisbon, it is obvious that our tribe is full of many different cultures and nationalities, all working together under one roof. Our tribe is not only German and Portuguese, but also harbors other European countries as well as Asian, African, Arabian, Indian and many more cultures as well.
But employing people from many nationalities is not what makes our tribe special. It is embracing each of those cultures and learning from each other to enable ourselves to be open to many different environments and ways of thinking. Taking a deep dive into all the different kinds of cultures of our tribe is not something we feel obliged to do. It is more a daily experience that automatically happens during as well as after working hours.
I myself had the pleasure of joining this crazy tribe and learning about the importance of other cultures as well as finding my own culture within my work.
I started working here about a year ago as a receptionist and working student. I wasn’t expecting much at all, just a nice student job to earn enough money to get me through the month and pay my student fees. Little did I know, I would end up not only finding my work drive as well as a perfect working environment, but also finding my roots.
I have been living in Germany for most of my life but was born and raised in South Africa until age 12. After moving to Germany, I felt lost in a totally different place and it took me a while to “fit in”. But as it always goes, time takes care of everything and it didn’t take long for me to feel right at home. Later I moved from my little town in the middle of nowhere to Stuttgart and found myself a new home with new opportunities. I worked for a law firm as a para-legal, had my friends and family and never thought about my past. Why should I? I knew where I came from and knew where I was and that was that.
After working for a law firm for a few years I decided to turn it all around and start studying and try something new and more creative. The worst thing you can ever do, is spend your life doing something you DON’T love!
What happened next
Shortly after starting my studies, I found my way to Mercedes-Benz.io after I applied for a job as a part time receptionist. I will never forget the call back saying: “How would you like to work for Mercedes-Benz.io?” Like anyone ever said “no” to that!
I ended up starting a week later and after meeting only two people who work here, I knew this was going to be something great. But what I didn’t know, is that I would be finding my way back home…
Finding the family
As a receptionist, you are the first face that is seen when you walk in, which is great when you are new. You meet everyone on a daily basis and quickly get to know your colleagues and other newbies. The first person I met was Rahwa. She, as well, is also a working student and receptionist and guided me through my first few weeks here. Rahwa might be the first person you see walking in the office, but she also stays on your mind long after. But more importantly, she and I had something in common: FOOD! Seeing as though she is from Eritrea, she loves spicy foods and having a meal is more of a cultural act than just filling your stomach. I could relate to that, seeing as though I was brought up like that as well. We spent so much time talking about our traditions and cultures, just to find out that our roots are so similar and special. Well, that was it for me! We were so different in so many ways, but we were one at heart.
A few months later Frederick started working at Mercedes-Benz.io as a working student in the Agility Circle. After exchanging a few words, we quickly got into a conversation about our accents, only to find out that we, as well, share a continent. His Ghanaian roots were similar to mine and allowed us to share the same kind of humor. But not only our humor is alike, his light-hearted, sunny side up attitude is exactly what you want to see when you step into the office on a Monday morning. So again, I found another African soul, that reminded me of where I come from and how important it is to have a smile on your face and a real African skip in your walk. He might be from Ghana, but the well-known Swahili words “Hakuna matata” are definitely not foreign to him. If you were ever to ask Fred, there really are “no troubles”.
My African Mercedes-Benz.io
Shortly after that things went crazy. I met so many more people from all over the world and found so many other fellow Africans.
Maha, who comes from Egypt, joined our Design Team at Mercedes-Benz.io and immediately I saw her as a driven and passionate woman, who embraces new obstacles and adapted so easily to different fields of work. I spent time with her talking about so many things, both work-related as well as personal and cultural. I found Maha’s African soul in her creative mind and family values, that reminded me of my own family. They might be far away but at work and through Maha, I can find the feeling of “home”.
And still – believe it not – there are many more to mention: Jeffrey (Project Manager) is from Nigeria, Mohammed (Product Owner as well as Maha’s husband) from Egypt, Hakim (IT-Systemadministrator) as well as Rashid and Abdellah (Software Developers) are from Morocco and who knows…maybe there are even more that I have yet to meet! They all have become my home away from home.
The diversity of cultures is CRAAAZY…. Being in a company that has so many different voices, traditions and nationalities is something that I didn’t even know I missed – I had forgotten how wonderful the world can be, even at work. I don’t need to go on holiday to find and get to know different foods, colors, ideals and cultures. I just go to work.
A lunch with Maha, a coffee break with Fred and Jeff, a quick chat with Rahwa and my African heart is at home.
To Africa and beyond
I moved from the front desk to our Communications Team during my time at Mercedes-Benz.io and am now creating great things and sharing them with people who embrace a diverse way of working and thinking.
Not only have I found my African roots here but also met many others with other roots and backgrounds: a touch of Persian, a hint of Chinese, a dash of Brazilian, a bunch of Portuguese and to top it off, a whole lot of German. All working in different fields with different expertise but mixed together in one working environment. Now that’s what I call Mercedes-Benz.io’s secret recipe to diversity.
And that’s what I call home.
Let’s get personal! Diversity is a very hot topic for companies nowadays and is gaining more and more popularity. Everyone seems to talk about it and everyone has a very personal approach to the topic. At Mercedes-Benz.io we acknowledge all kinds of diversity. Let it be diversity of thought, gender, culture and many more. We believe in the power of diversity and personality, that is why our approach starts with diversity of opinion. By that we mean to give everyone the chance to share their thoughts in order to encourage a dialogue and establish our very own definition of diversity that includes all thoughts and opinions.