Adventures in South Korea

At the beginning of the Saab Graduate Leadership Programme (SGLP) I got the opportunity to travel to South Korea and our local office in Seoul. It was my first business trip abroad and I felt very excited. As I work with Project Management of Contract Logistic Support (CLS) for Surface Radars at EDS in Gothenburg, it was going to be very interesting to see the Radar systems at our customer’s locations and to meet our Local Support Team. The Radar systems are deployed along the border to North Korea and due to the proximity to Seoul they are a great safety to the 10,5 million inhabitants of the capital. I realised that the work that is done with the CLS to make sure the Radar systems work, actually save lives.

Previous to the departure to Seoul, my mentor Fredrik Sämfors, who is the Project Manager for CLS South Korea, cryptically handed me a book while I was working on my computer. It was a heavy book and it read: “Kiss, bow or shake hands”. It was a book about business etiquette throughout the world. I took the hint and realised that I had to prepare myself. So I did. During the SGLP we have had the opportunity to listen to many inspiring leaders in the organisation and one career advice that kept coming up was: “dare to make mistakes”. Well, in South Korea - I made some mistakes.

Three of my colleagues and I were going to a very important meeting with a few people in South Korea. I was feeling slightly nervous and I bet I did not even rest my back against the chair as I wanted to sit up straight. As we sat down in the conference room, Fredrik told me: “I just realised, judging from the order in which we are seated around the table, the Koreans think that you are my manager”. I felt no pressure at all… In addition, upon our departure from the Seoul office I was given a gift from the team. I started to open it, to suddenly stop myself as I remembered that the last thing you do when you receive a gift is to open it in the presence of the giver.

What I learned from this trip is how inspiring it is to work with something that is important to you and that no matter how well you prepare, you may still make mistakes. I hope that you will dare to make mistakes and that you will learn from them in order to develop.

/ Anna

 

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