Bringing a Touch of South Africa to Sweden

As a proud South African, I was excited to bring a bit of South Africa to Sweden when I got an opportunity to do a rotation abroad in Sweden.  My first rotation outside of my home unit was at Investor Relations at Saab’s office in Stockholm, Alvik. It was a great opportunity to learn something completely out of my comfort zone, coming from a background of political science, economics is something that stresses me out- but I found myself being more stressed out over being lost in cultural translation than anything else.

As I arrived I got invited to join a coffee club, my first response was YES I’m so excited, when does it start?

When the time came, I was called- Tanika its coffee club time! I jumped out of my chair overly excited, threw my original cup of coffee away- because I had already made one, but I was not going to miss my first coffee club moment! We made the coffee and then everyone disappeared back into their office and closed the door. I stood in the kitchen for a while deciding do I knock on the door and walk in- or did I just completely misinterpret coffee club time? I eventually realised that coffee club is not where you all get together and sit down and chat, it merely means you belong to a group who buys really nice coffee and you get turns in making it, and then return back to work.

My time abroad has been nothing short of incredible. Learning about investor relations broadened my overall business understanding of Saab, not just from a financial point of view, but understanding Saab’s commitment to constantly innovate and be at the forefront of technology.

Currently I am doing another rotation in Sweden at Market Network Management (MNM), learning about Saab’s commitment to anti-corruption and the detailed approach Saab takes to stay true to its commitment- a zero corruption policy.

Experiencing life and work outside of your home unit teaches you not only a new culture but how different cultures do business differently. I have brought a little bit of South Africa to Sweden- my colleagues now both say and understand “il see you now-now” and “ah shame”.

From left; Johanna, Tanika, Ebba

When you think an ordinary grocery visit couldn’t be that exciting- as a South African EVERYTHING is exciting! From buying yoghurt instead of milk, not once but twice (Because in Sweden you have so many different varieties and everything has the word mjölk in) to buying what you thought were refuse bags- but turned out to be an apron, my next challenge has to be to learn Swedish!

Our next team week for the Graduate Leadership Program will be in South Africa and I can’t wait to share a bit of South Africa with the team.

/ Tanika