Day 7 – Dubai the City of Gold

Hilti

After early start in the 7th day of our middle east trip, we had the opportunity to visit the well-known company Hilti, founded in 1941 in Lichtenstein. Hilti provided us a good overview on how to deal with HR topics within the emirates and how it is possible to stick with the corporate values throughout such culture diversity of employees. It was fun and a great experience to also have the possibility to use the tools, which contributed a lot to this amazing development of the GCC region.

We have seen that using the Hilti tools isn’t just a man’s (Christoph, right) capability. No: Susanne (left) and Sabrina have demonstrated us their extraordinary direct fastening skills.

The Red Hilti Box has also established the same iconic meaning in the UEA region, as in other parts of the world. A well-known label, which most of the people can immediately link to the company.

The swissness of Hilti is clearly visible (despite their Lichtenstein origin)

Swiss Business Council

From the Swiss Business Council, we have received a good overview about the UEA region in terms of geographic, history etc. Urs Stirnimann (founded of the law firm) provided us an in-depth insight on how starting and developing a business in the region. Thanks to his 17 years of experience working in this area, he was able to provide us with Tips and tricks to overcome the challenges and obstacles in living and starting a business in the UAE

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In his best swiss lawyer attitudes did we learned that tax avoidance in one country can be of value in another one. It was exciting to get invited to the 36th floor of the Swiss Tower to enjoy the view and see his house, which is located on the emirates golf course, the most prestige golf course in the UEA.

M-HQ Law Firm

Finally, the official visits’ program ended with being hosted by one of the most important law firm in Dubai. Their founder Yann Mrazek, a Swiss lawyer who works already since 12 years in Dubai, gave us a good example of the modern meaning of “ars oratoria” by taking and presenting us the legal framework for establishing a business in the UAE. We could also appreciate the differences and peculiarities of the region in terms of company’s legal structure. Indeed, he explained us how the family owned businesses (common legal entity here in the UAE) are structured and how they changed in the past years.

Dinner in the Burj Khalifa

9 of us made the investment to enjoy a dinner in the Burj Khalifa. The building itself rises 828m into the air and had a building cost of 1.5 billion USD $. The restaurant, which is the highest located in the world, is place on Level 123th which is 442m above ground level. The Top floor is on Level 158 / 584m, everything above this is either technical, storage and empty rooms. 

We enjoyed our dinner in the private room, which normally only movie stars like Will Smith (just last week) or former soccer icon Diego Maradona are staying. It requires a minimum consummation fee and we have been lucky to be 9 people. The dinner and service have been fantastic. It was the true experience.

But nevertheless, made us this experience think. However nice this might be, it is a priviledge to be able to enjoy something like this. The Tower was built for the rich by the poor to impress the world. Our dinner cost for the 9 people (12’000 Dirham / 3’200 CHF), would provide a half year income for one of the poor immigrante worker, which build the tower.

It shows that we are all lucky to be on the better side of life and we realize again, that the world is developing in a unhealthy direction, where bigger buildings, the highest restaurants, the most expensive wine, the best view count more than the real issues in the world. The gap between rich and poor is further increasing and the strive to equal chances for all, remains a illusion.

We are educating ourselves with highest degrees. As manager and future executives it is also in our hands to reduce the gap and contribute to a better world.

Day 6: Dubai – City of Gold

 

Arabian Night

Tonight our class was introduced to the local culture and the Islamic religion. In the historic center of Dubai, we learned how they build naturally air conditioned houses. During an Arabic coffee we were teached about the functions of the different rooms. In the mosque we learned more about the religion, the praying times, the Quran and could even listen to the prayers call (azan). A typical Arabic dinner was the last highlight of the day.

Tired, but inspired by the Islamic culture and business opportunities we headed back to the hotel.

Dubai – City of Gold

The view out of the hotel room changed completely from Riyadh to Dubai. The ultramodern host city impresses with its architecture, cosmopolitan culture and colorful dressed women

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Armada distribution

Armada Distribution is responsible with filling up our minibar in the hotel with Evian water and Danone products. The company imports foreign premium brands like Evian, Halter, Piz Buin, Merci, Hershey’s and others. They distribute the products within UAE to the retail, Coffees and Restaurants. It is an affiliate of the Lebanese Fattal Group.

The hands-on western style management with Malek Baajour, Daniel Khalil and Cherly Pereira impressed us not only with their distribution capabilities. They showed us their beautiful designed premises. We were surprised that the design and work was mostly done by their own staff. This team spirit is noticeable and gives credibility to their shared corporate values: be natural, honest, tasteful, passionate and generous. The open, multi culture and friendly work environment is something totally new after our Saudi Arabia trip. They also served us with a delicious Lebanese breakfast.

Al Mal Capital Bank

On the way to the Al Mal Capital Bank within the Dubai International Financial Center we enjoyed the golden skyline of Dubai.

 

Al Mal Capital is an investment bank for Corporate Advisory, Investment Management and Direct Investments for the MENA region. MENA stands for Middle East and Northern Africa. We were welcomed by the senior management who gave us a comprehensive overview about the business and economic environment. We learned that their financial figures are as overwhelming as Burj Khalifa. The GCC countries are in different stages of a transition from oil based to diversified economies. This opens up new investment opportunities in health care, education, services, infrastructure and logistics. It seems to be the investment place to be.

From big to small – from numbers to taste: Sandwich Express

The Swiss entrepreneurs Patrick Helfer and his wife Petra gave us first-hand insights into the difficulties making business as an SME. We were very impressed how many obstacles they successfully managed to overcome. Two years ago they decided going to Dubai. Since one year they run their own bakery. They had and have to deal with changing regulations and uncounted permissions as well as leading a staff of different origins. Despite all this difficulty they showed us great passion in what they are doing. Soon they open up the new business of kitchen rentals for food truck and move to a new premise. We thank them for their warm welcome, the delicious food and wish them good luck and thrive.

 

3rd Day – Arab News and Sultan Abdulaziz Humanitarian City in Focus!

The day started off by checking out and a final good-bye to the ex-Mövenpick hotel where Ueli Prager’s spirit was still alive. The hotel Al Khozama hotel was featured by friendly personnel, delicious breakfast buffet, and arguably the most expensive coffee in Riyadh. Our well-known bus with the highly professional driver Bob brought us safely and on-time to our destination, namely, Saudi Research and Publishing Company (SRPC), which is a subsidiary of Saudi Research and Marketing Group. Once again, we experienced a very warm welcome and unmatched hospitality of the well-organized host. Entering the conference room, we found ourselves confronted with a tremendous buffet including Sushi, Salmon-Crackers, juices, pastry, and much more. There were 7 staff members in nice traditional dress distributing the snacks and drinks making us feel as royal as it only is possible.

The official part of the visit commenced with a lively presentation elucidating the nature and operation of the host organization, namely, the newspaper Arab news, which is one of the 29 publications of the SRPC. The Arab News is an exemplary employer, who employs approximately 100 females working either on a permanent or freelance basis.

It is interesting to note that Arab News sells approximately 100’000 hard copies of the newspaper, of which 25’000 are sold abroad. Christoph was lightning fast in exploring the web site appearance of Arab News and he was deeply impressed by the quality and extent of the site, which offered free of charge access to the resource and its archive. Christoph, thanks a lot for your initiative!

Among many important issues echoing the daily life of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), such as media freedom, proliferation of renewable energy, international collaboration, and the questions related to the involvement of KSA – Syrian refugees – were discussed.

Jochen raised a question regarding the freedom of speech in KSA, and is particular, the freedom of expressing the opinion of the publisher. An honest answer came straight away, indicating that on the scale from 1 to 10, the current freedom is ranked to a minimum of 9.

The group raised a question regarding the top challenges of the region in general, and KSA in particular. Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan elaborated on the answer, indicating that the most important contemporary challenge is the disassociation of KSA with the terrorism and a fair reflection of KSA reputation.

During the presentation, we were repeatedly invited to enjoy the rich selection of the aforementioned food; an advice that we gladly followed to the extent allowed by the breakfast consumed three quarters of an hour before. In any case, the food has proven to be of the highest quality and delight.

In the course of the presentation we were introduced to a gifted actor, producer, and photographer Mr.Gaffar Khan, who won a prestigious governmental award for his music video addressing the timely problem of illegal immigrants in KSA.

As was discussed by Prof Khaldoun Dia-Eddine and Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, the visit of our group may in the future be marked by a publication in Arab News.

The visit was concluded by a group photo and warm good-byes. We sincerely wish the team of Arab News all the best in their endeavors!

Our beloved bus then took us to our next destination, namely, Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City. The meeting commenced by a very interesting presentation held by a well known Princess of the Saudi Royal Family. The presentation helped us to gain an in-depth insight into the philosophy and daily life of this truly amazing and sophisticated organization.

The mission statement and vision of the organization were presented to us. Remarkedly, the vision of the organization is touching and giving hope to all in need: “Helping People to help themselves”. Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City consists of:

  • Recovery Center
  • Ambulatory Care Center
  • Rehabilitation Center
  • Child Development Center
  • Sporting Facility

Following the presentation, there was a brief question and answer session, where such questions as:

  • The largest challenge faced by the organization in its growth
  • Key success factors for the organization
  • The utility of robotics in the daily operation of the organization
  • Healthcare insurance for the population
  • Collaboration with the State Ministry of Healthcare.

In a few numbers, the remarkable Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City can briefly be described as follows.

  • 469 bed are available for the patients
  • The total area of the facility is approximately 1’000’000 square meters
  • More than 656’000 patient visits were recorded since 2014
  • The organization has received a large number of awards, including “Best Healing», «Best patient hospital”, “Best work environment”, “Best education award”, and many others.

After another delicious local snack feast we were led to a site tour across the facility and surroundings of the city. We started off at the rehabilitation station, guided by an expert in the field working at the facility for the last 8 years. The tour included an insight in the men’s section of the rehabilitation area and the Therapy street, where the patients are prepared to face daily challenges once they return home and live independent lives, echoing the vision of the organization.

In between stations we were driven by the personnel in fascinating and unique electrical cars.

It was with a great sadness that we parted the passionate and highly professional team of Sultan Abdulaziz Humanitarian City so early; however, our next destination was calling upon us. An exchange of gifts and final handshakes concluded this wonderful visit.

Bob, our bus driver, brought us straight away to the International Airport of KSA and with a big applause he was said goodbye. After check-in, some of us used the remaining time to shop some gifts for our loved ones at home, others tried to drink coffee and a few found themselves at a Pizza-Corner.

A few hours later Dubai was in sight and the aircraft landed safely at the Dubai International Airport and we could line-up for a taxi which would bring us to the smoking rooms of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The trip so far has proven excellent by far exceeding our best expectations and we look forward to new experiences in United Arab Emirates.

A well-deserved «Feierabend-Bier” was expecting us in the middle of the Dubai night.

Valerijs Knazkins & Hubert Hubregtse

Day 4 – Being outnumbered by cows and croissants – and meeting the Ambassador

The day began early in the morning, 7.00 h was the time of departure. Luckily everyone was excited to visit Almarai so “rise and shine” was an easy task. We embarked the bus leaving for what was planned to be a one hour journey to Almarai, the largest dairy production site in the world.

The day took off well, but alas, soon a first inconvenience overshadowed the trip – the air-condition of the bus suddenly failed to deliver the much appreciated cool air. The heat in the bus might have been a reason for our driver to lose his way which manifested in the trip taking two instead of one hour. Nevertheless, spirits were high and upon arrival our engineering friends Marek and Thomas managed to fix the air-con with support from Hubi.

We were welcomed by Tony the head of farming who led us through the plant explaining the struc-ture and processes. You could immediately tell how passionate he is about the animals and his work. With his team, he takes care of 190’000 milk cows. 300 cows are milked by machine per 20 minutes – 4 times a day! They are fed with alfalfa, yellow corn and nutrients added to their diet. The food is kept in separate stock entities to prevent spread in case of a fire. The cows are not fed any antibiotics to produce more milk, but the cows are sold after about 3 years after their peak in milk production is reached. Almarai focusses purely on milk produc-tion which is why the cows are artificially insemi-nated and bulls are sold shortly after being born.

Despite the mass production the Almarai cows seem to lead a fairly humane life. Tony referred to them as “she” rather than “it” and workers are asked to treat the animals gently and “not shout” at them on instructional posters. All the same, one has to ask how sustainable is it to breed, feed and milk cows in the middle of the desert where food and water are scarce and has to be imported on a daily basis. Fact remains that Almarai seemed to be a healthy business with even more potential for growth which is being carefully evaluated by CEO Georges Schorderet.

The immensity of Almarai does not consist of the dairy production only. We moved on to another pillar of production – the bakery. There we were welcomed by Simon, the head of production for baked goods who again displayed a contagious excitement for his production. We learned how buns, rolls, sliced bread, and croissants are produced from making the dough to packaging. Most importantly we learned about the delicacy of dough because of its one living ingredient – yeast. As a special treat, the two ladies in the group, Sabrina and Susanne, were invited to inspect the ladies division in croissant production. Almarai employs astonishing 900 female workers which are shuttled to the production plant everyday separated from their male colleagues. These are the first effects of the efforts Saudi Arabia is making towards the integration of females into the workforce. However, questioned regarding fitting positions in higher positions, we are told this is not possible as long as segregation of the sexes is part of daily life in Saudi Arabia.

 

After this fascinating tour of the bakery facilities, we were offered a delicious buffet lunch. Not only was the food – again – outstanding but also the facilities we had lunch in were high class, with chandeliers and ample decoration.

We were joined by Swiss CEO, Georges Schorderet, and three of his senior staff, two of which were from New Zealand, Australia respectively and the third was Saudi. 25% of employees at Almarai are Saud

is whilst the rest come from all over the world, predominantly from English-speaking regions.

After lunch, we followed David, the head of dairy, to a screening room where we were shown the company video summarizing all that we had seen in the morning. David then took us to a gallery were all Almarai facts and figures were displayed and windows into the cheese production facilities rounded off a most interesting site visit.

On the way back to the hotel, in a cooled bus full of tired EMBA students, the traffic ate up the free time scheduled before the evening program.

A refreshed and revived group reassembled at the lobby at 19.15 h to attend the Swiss Ambassadors reception and dinner. We were welcomed by the Embassy’s delegation in the beautiful garden of the Ambassador’s residence. After some welcoming words from the Ambassador congratulating us to our trip to Saudi Arabia. Members of the Clyde & Co law firm informed about the remarkable opportunities that the change in the country has brought in relation to the 2030 Vision. Following that short introduction, we had the chance to speak to several guests and of course his Excellency himself, Ambassador Heinrich Schellenberg. Throughout the evening we could not repeat often enough how our kind hosts, Mr. George Schorderet and his Excellency Heinrich Schellenberg have made this visit to Saudi Arabia an unforgettable experience for all of us. Thank you!

Susanne Eisenegger, David Kocher

Day 1 & Day 2- Arrival and the first visits

Introduction

Study Trip to the Middle East

Date: 31.03.2017 – 08.04.2017

Destinations:

  • Riyadh
  • Dubai

Name of class: International Executive MBA 2016

Number of students: 13

Name of SML representative: Khaldoun Dia-Eddine

Day 1

The day has come: the IEMBA class of 2016 is visiting the Middle East.

The whole gang has gathered near gate 67 at Zurich airport. The boarding of the Emirate A380 flight to Dubai began at around 21:40. Already this was a new experience for some members, since they never have flown with such a huge commercial flight vessel.

The flight was in general smoothly, next to the very rare and small turbulence. Arriving in Dubai we had to wait for four hours to board our connecting flight to Riyadh. Since it was a overnight flight and most people barely were able to sleep, we used the excessive free time to replenish our energy by eating and drinking beverages contains lots of coffin.

The duty free section was rather small and underwhelming. The most exiting part was probably when Mike managed to carry around a half opened Coke Zero glas bottle which was stored in a paper back, which dripped all over the airport floor for at least 30 meters before he even notices what was going on. At least we were able to see the efficiency of the Dubai people at hand, since it did not even take five minutes till there was at least three “wet floor” shields place around the small debacle.

The Saudi Air flight to Rijadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, took us 2 hours. This went without any kind of problems and we all arrived safely at the airport. Just stepping out of the plane already displayed how vast some of the architecture structures are when we walked by the airport fountain.

While waiting for our taxis, several class mates tried to obtain some of the countries currency. Seemingly confused we thought that about 5000 Saudi-Riyal is worth 300 Swiss franc. So some decided it would be a good idea to get about 2500 each. A quick google search, of course after we already held the money in our hands, we realized that the 5000 combined are not CHF 300.- rather more than CHF 1200.-. Quickly using our learned skills during the EMBA classes, we mitigated our risks and sold some of the overstock in Saudi-Riyal bills to other members of the group.

Arriving at our hotel Al Khozama most of the people tried to get their room key quickly and take a quick nap and a shower. Our leader Khaldoun offered a museum visit at the National Museum for anybody who is interested. Most of the class participated. Seeing the museum showed again the grandeur of Saudi Arabia. The whole group gathered in front of it before entering:

For the quick people it easily took about 1 hours and 15 minutes to finish the whole tour. The last group, spearheaded by our dear Khaldoun itself, was for nearly 2 hours in there. If you are interested in Middle East culture and have the chance to visit Saudi Arabia, you surely have to drop by at the National Museum in Rijadh. I am sure every member of the class learned something about this country in there, that he did not know before. The range of information is huge. The following pictures show a set of details brochures which show the theme which was focused heavily in the different kind of sections at the museum.

The majority of the group is getting hungry and we were returning to the hotel to have a small feast around 19:00. Compared to the China study trip in October 2016, the buffet this restaurant provided was sufficient for every single person. I do not think that there was anybody not satisfied at the end of that dinner. Even though this gave a small energy boost, for most people it was not enough and a good night sleep is ahead of us for the interesting day 2.

We are looking forward to the visit of the two companies Alinma Bank and Alfanar Group.

Day 2

The second day of our study trip started with a nice breakfast buffet at the hotel and a short briefing from our host Mr. Larbi Elttari from the Embassy of Switzerland about the upcoming days in Riyadh.

We were picked up by a bus which brought us to our first company visit Alinma Bank. A young and innovative bank with a tremendous growth. We were hosted by the six very senior executives, including the CEO of one of their investment branches. Getting some very interesting insides about the banking system in Saudi Arabia itself and our hosts gave us also the chance to get some general information about economy and what kind of difference there is compared to the western world.

One of the major difference would be the sharia-compliance which have to be considered in their banking. For example: in Europe when we lend money, the bank receives interest to cover the risk and of course make a profit in the end. With the sharia-compliance, you are not allowed to take in interest in such a matter. Their lending system is more like leasing a car: they buy the product and you pay them back. In the end their risk management is different in that matter than ours, since they are not able to cover their losses through interest rates and they have to vet carefully with who they make their deals. In general the class was extremely surprised about the transparent communication and the openness on which we were received. We were able to ask any kind of questions. They also had strong sarcastic and humorous remarks in a very witty way. It was the perfect start for our study trip.

The second visit took place at the electric industrial manufacturer Alfanar. We had a very warm welcome with “Arabic coffee and sweets”. After a short company movie we were pleased to walk through their whole production line which they have in based in Riyadh. For our engineers that was a field day and they were comparing it to their own field and experience. Our ABB guy Marek assured us, that they have a strong focus on quality. It seems not only he was interested in the different kind of production sights.

Some of us found it even so interesting, it seemed they did not want to come back with us and almost missed the departure of the bus.

When we arrived back at their headquarters we were pleasantly surprised with a late lunch. Their employee dining room was set up nicely and we even received non-alcoholic wine. The food was tremendous:

We were split up in two small groups and one was able to talk with Larbi Ettari to get some more insights about Saudi Arabia and the other one sat with Kahldoun and also talked about the first two companies and how interesting both visits have been.

As a closure of the evening, we were heading to an all authentic Arabian restaurant. Luca Urech from the Swiss embassy was accompanying us again. He also brought somebody from the Alinma Bank with him (nobody from the mornings meeting). The dinner was served and the dining experience was a first for many.

The class in general agrees on one thing: this was a great start to the study trip and we all hope, that the visit continuous to be so inspiring and interesting in the coming days.

Thanks for reading.

Authors: Sabrina, Marek & Mike

 

 

Study Trip Brussels, Group 6

Image

During our study trip, we received the assignment to apply the concept of Contextual Intelligence in reference to Brussels. According to HBR, Contextual Intelligence can be described as:

“The ability to understand the limits of our knowledge to an environment different from the one in which it was developed.”

The following subtopics will allow the reader to comprehend the highly complex topic of Contextual Intelligence in a simplified and easily understandable way with five selected frequently occurring happenings.

Beer Glasses

Belgium has a historical beer tradition. This is noticeable as many pubs are offering a large variety of different beers. Interestingly, this displays the notion of being able to choose, which is important to Belgians. Often each beer has its own beer glass, and it’s regarded as a cultural faux pas to drink the beer out of the wrong glass.

Refugees / Homeless

Last year, Belgium granted refugee status to a record number of 12,197 asylum seekers, which is almost double the number of the year before. Further 3,281 asylum seekers were granted protection. Although this number is high for Belgium, other countries including Germany or Turkey have taken several hundred thousand resp. several million refugees since 2015. Also, homelessness in Brussels is a growing issue with a lot of Youngster between 16 and 18 living on the streets.

Architecture 

Looking at the Jubelpark arcade in Brussels there is a striking similarity to the Arc de Triomphe on Champs-Elysee in Paris or the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin. Although from an architectonical point of view the similarity cannot be dismissed the intention of the construction of the arcade is different. In contrast to its peers in Paris and Berlin does the Jubelpark arcade not resemble a demonstration of military superiority but merely a symbol of architectonical ingenuity.

Food

In contrast to our “Bürli and Bratwurst” Belgium people just love their seafood. Especially during the weekends the restaurant/market “Noordzee” is the place to be. Fresh fish, mussels, snails and everything a fish-lover would be looking for under the sea can be
found there – Bon appetite! 🙂

Chocolate

A big debate arises when Swiss and Belgians are asked about where the best chocolate comes from. Chocolate manufacturing has a long tradition in both countries and distinguishing which one is the better is a subjective assessment. The fact, however, that the founder of the most exclusive brand in Belgium is a Swiss, adds to the account of Swiss expertise in chocolate.

Conclusion

To sum up, Brussels is a beautiful city with its own very prestige customs and culture. Yet, one shall not forget that beyond the beer pubs, chocolate shops, and seafood restaurants also lays a Brussels is torn between past and future, Belgians and Refugees, poor and rich, EU and Brexit but the most important fact that will for always remain is:

The best Chocolate is from SWITZERLAND!

Group 2- Applied Contextual Intelligence

As contextual intelligence is an important part of the internationalization process, companies should not only rely on already available information on the Internet but also do their own research in order to gather first-hand information. Therefore, we conducted our own observation in Brussels. Exploring the city, we came across several interesting facts.

Atypical Street

Belgium has an atypical voting process when it comes to politics. Compared to other countries, every citizen is obliged to vote and therefore takes part in the elections. Those people who do not vote are subject to sanctions.

Beer

Beer is a tradition of Belgium and it also plays an important role in business. Many people for example, enjoy having a drink with their co-workers after a long day. Therefore, one should recognize the importance of beer culture.

Hierarchy

According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Belgium exhibits a high score in Power Distance, meaning that inequalities in the Belgian society is accepted and therefore, hierarchy is needed if not existential. The superiors, as you can see on the picture above, have privileges and are often inaccessible.

Terrorism

Terror threats have impacted the daily lives of Belgians and they are much more sensitive to it as a result. The security of the country, in particular of Brussels, is so essential as the headquarter of the EU is located there. Moreover, immigration has also affected the daily lives of Belgians.

Roman Catholicism

Roman Catholicism has shaped the country and kept it from being part of the Netherlands, therefore it holds an important symbolism for the country.

Work-life balance

Belgians like to enjoy work-life balance and will spend good money to do so. According to the guide, Belgians do not have a strong national binding due to its history, which included a large political involvement of its neighbouring countries. Therefore, Belgians rely on themselves, enjoying life and being united over food. In business it is important to observe and realize this important ritual. Doing so will help open many doors.

Altogether, it is important to spin a web of knowledge through thorough observation to look beyond a country’s culture and approach locals and experts if needed.

Msc IB Study Trip Bruxelles – Team 1

“Contextual Intelligence is a concept and a way to discern what is going on around you in real time. It is a way to be adaptive and responsive to unexpected, unforeseen change which is constantly around us. For a manager, it is critically important to stay ahead of those changes and maybe even be the implementer of change. Contextual intelligence is a way to do that. Contextual intelligence is being able to understand the world we live in. When we change environment, being able to adapt to this situational change is what contextual intelligence does.” – Dr.Matt Kutz, P.h.D in Global Leadership, author of the book “Contextual Intelligence” (2015).

Dr. Matthew Kutz’s Contextual Intelligence Profile describes a requirement of reframing ones thinking. Three aspects need to be integrated into your thinking; 1) starting to react to the world as a complex world and not a complicated world, 2) synchronicity: making meaning out of apparently irrelevant experiences/memories, 3) tacit knowledge: making use of the things we know to be true, but we don’t know why we know that (non- measurable knowledge) as opposed to explicit knowledge. Furthermore, Kutz defines 12 specific behavior in order to become a successful, contextual intelligent leader.

Our group would like to point out these 12 significant behaviors and visualized them with pictures from Bruxelles. The pictures are used as methaphors, the description is always below the picture: Enjoy!

1) Diagnoses context ‒ describes the awareness of and identification of the different variables that contribute to subtle or dramatic shifts in your surroundings.

The following photograph depicts Tintin and captain Haddock diagnosing a situation in order to take appropriate actions. This is comparable to an individual who has the ability to analyze his surrounding and adapt his actions behavior to the context.

2) Consensus builder‒ defines the articulation of the value of conflicting ideas, convinces people to see common benefit of different points of view.

Individuals who display these characteristics function as peacemakers such as on the photograph.

3) Change agent ‒ defines the identification of behaviors and attitudes that contribute toward maintaining the status quo and is able to address them in a nonthreatening manner.

Our group functioned as change agents as we encouraged this man to transfer his communication to a digital channel. In order to be more ecofriendly and increase his communication reach.

4) Effective use of influence ‒ describes projection of a desirable persona based on an accurate awareness of how others perceive you. Is aware of how your own actions affect and how others perceive you.

This homeless man’s begging appealed to our empathy so that our group had the feeling that we must donate something in order to be perceived in a positive way.

5) Multicultural leadership ‒ builds rapport by seeking to understand the values and motives of individuals and groups with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

This light and dark skinned hand represent multiculturalism and intercultural understanding.

6) Mission minded ‒ can identify your own behaviors and attitudes that influence how others perceive a group or organization you are representing.

This picture shows our group being ready for the mission ! 🙂

7) Influencer – Uses interpersonal skills to ethically  and non-coercively affect the actions and decisions of others.

The religion should be a symbol for having an influence on ones ethical behavior.

8) Culturally sensitive – Promotes diversity in multiple contexts and aligns diverse individuals by  creating and facilitating diversity and provides  opportunities for diverse members to interact in non-discriminatory manner.

This pictures is a methaphor for diversity, if female or male, European or Amerian, everybody is different.

9) Communitarian – Expresses concern about social trends  and issues (encourages legislation and policy when appropriate) and volunteers  in social  and community activities.

This picture illustrates a community, such as the chinese community carrying their own social trends, cultures and values

10) Future minded – Has a forward-looking mentality and sense of  direction and concern for where the organization should be in the future.

The arrow shows the future –> dont look back, look ahead!!  🙂

11) Critical thinker – Cognitive ability to make connections, integrate, and make  practical application of different actions, opinions, and information.

The group thinks not once, but twice! 🙂 Is the main square really made with gold????

12) Intentional leader – Assesses and evaluates own leadership performance and is aware of strengths and weaknesses.  Takes intentional action  toward continuous improvement of leadership ability.  Has  an action guide and delineated goals for achieving personal best.

Thank you!

Group 1

 

 

 

 

 

The Capital of Europe: From the Gutters to the Palace

Contextual Intelligence: How do Belgium and Switzerland differ?

While walking through the streets in the capital of Europe, it is clearly visible that not everything is like it seems to be. Homeless people, lonely children, rubbish and a high police presence dominate the centrum of the city. Nevertheless, enormous buildings like the palace of the king or the whole EU commission area enlighten the city. The following pictures illustrate the contextual intelligence between the capital of Europe and the neutral not-eu member Switzerland. 

Homeless Family:

This pictures illustrates the high discrepancy between the european elite who meet and live in the exclusive residences and the ones who lives with nothing. 

Rubbish on the Streets:

As seen in the picture, rubbish dominantes the streets. Contrary to Switzerland where streets are spotless and clear. 

Dunks and playing Children:

As the drunk men is sleeping on the playground kids are playing around him not realizing the gravity. 

Big Brother Brussels:

In the last decade the number of surveillance cameras increased to a total of 1365 spread all over the city. This illustrates the high level of anxiety in the country. 

Seafood instead of Bratwurst:

Despite the reason terror attacks, people in brussels are still enjoying life on the streets – drinking beer and eating traditional seafood dishes.

To summarise, it is not as shiny as you would expect from the so called capital of Europe. Brussels is a great illustration of all the problems the EU has to deal with, immigration, wealth gap and terror threat. Nevertheless, it impresses also with its rich culture and history influence by all big powers of Europe. Furthermore, the citizens still enjoy life despite the problems they face everyday in their daily life. 

Contextual Intelligence in Brussels- Group 8

Churches

Even though only 5% of the Catholic population attend the church, the importance of Catholicism is to a certain extent inherent in the Belgian society and it is demonstrated in values, beliefs, rituals, traditions and practices, hence, it should be taken into account when doing business in that country. It is worth mentioning that the Catholic church played an important role during the Belgian Revolution (1830-1831), which later led to the independence of Belgium.

Belgian Pride

Even though the country is separated by two cultures: Flemish and French, they come together when it comes to food. They are proud of their Belgian beer, chocolate and among others, the national football team.

Languages

The Kingdom of Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. Of the inhabitants of Belgium, roughly 59% belong to the Flemish Community, 40% to the French Community and 1% to the German-speaking Community.

As an attempt to integrate the Belgian community, signals and products are translated to the two most spoken languages in Belgium: Flemish and French. Foreign language competence is generally typical of educated Belgians, more so in the case of the Flemish than the French speakers. This reflects the fact that the country lies on a linguistic fault-line and has also had to negotiate and trade with other countries in order to survive. Thus, international negotiations in Belgium are generally conducted in English, although French may be an option.

Food culture

Through food, the Belgian people not only come together, but it also is a way of socializing which is a very important part of their culture. It is so important that it even influences the way Belgians integrate and it helps to keep them united. As for the business culture, having a meeting at a coffee bar and discussing business issues is not unusual in Belgium.

Strikes

When doing business in Belgium, particularly in Brussels, companies need to bear in mind the fact that strikes take place on a daily basis. Brussels is the capital of the EU, which is why important institutions, such as the European Commission and the European Parliament are located in that city. In order to be heard, political activists who oppose to certain decisions from the mentioned institutions, organize demonstrations and strikes frequently. Hence, companies might be affected as well when employees participate in strikes.

Customer needs

Belgium had been a colonial power between the 19th and 20th century. The legacy of the colonial time is still visible nowadays when looking at the population of the country. Some people stemming from former colonies were granted the Belgian citizenship. Belgians with Congolese roots, for instance, do not have the same preferences, customer needs and purchasing behaviour, thus, companies need to address the customer needs and wants accordingly.

 

Authors:

Erika Arcos

Julia Kessler

Milos Mihajlovic

Hüseyin Coban

Merve Yasaroglu