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15×15: Eindrücke eines Austausch-Kollegen

Im Rahmen unseres internen Mitarbeiter-Austauschprogramms hatten 15 Kollegen die Möglichkeit erhalten, eine Woche lang in ein anderes Land und Büro reinzuschnuppern, neue Kollegen, die Kultur und Arbeitsweise kennen zu lernen. Neben zwei Kollegen aus Deutschland durfte Yannick Gayama aus dem Büro in Montreal in frühlingshafte Deutschland nach Köln. Wir haben ihn gefragt “Wie war’s denn?”. Seine Antworten findet ihr im Folgenden. Viel Spaß beim Lesen!

Yannick, how about you just introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you do at Weber Shandwick?

Guten Tag! My name is Yannick Gayama. I’m an Account Supervisor at Weber Shandwick Canada, based in Montreal (Quebec – the only French-speaking market in North America). I’m officially part of the healthcare practice, but also work for a wide array of clients from the Corporate and Consumer practices. I like to think of myself as a General Practitioner given my ability to understand business models and issues, regardless of the industries. My roles are pretty varied, which is something that I really like. For instance, I’m a National Business Lead (NBL) with North American responsibilities (US and Canada) for one of our global network clients, while for others, I lead the deployment and management of nationwide communication programs or provide insights for strategic and tactical planning in French Canada.

 Why did you apply for the 15×15 program in the first place?

I applied to the 15×15 program for the same reason I chose to join Weber Shandwick about two years ago: to experience the power of a global network. Being connected to offices and minds across the world is a huge advantage compared to the boutique or national agencies I used to work for. As a globally-minded person, I’m constantly drawn to new cultures, different ways of viewing the world and finding solutions for common – but complex – issues. 15×15 represents one of the international opportunities I had always hoped for.

What were your expectations? Have they been fulfilled?

I took part in the program with an open mind and did not set any particular expectations. My goal was to breathe everything in and experience without conscious biases. I knew there would be interesting differences and similarities between Germany and Canada, but I did not want to make any assumptions, or remain blocked on the most obvious ones, such as language.

I can confidently say that my experience was very fulfilling. In addition to strolling through beautiful and historically rich streets of Cologne, the team was very generous with their time and walked me through some very inspiring and admirable work and accomplishments. Also, I was able to discuss with various practice leads and was lucky enough to be in town when the entire German leadership team flew in for a two-day meeting! 

From a working perspective, do Germans work differently compared to your co-workers in Canada?

Based on what I’ve seen during the week, I’m under the impression that our German colleagues work with more poise and a greater sense of functionality. In Canada, we’re used to things moving at a faster pace, which is good, but not all the time. For instance, to ensure greater quality of work, I believe it is important to be able to step back, take time to think and discuss ideas with colleagues rather than engaging in back-to-back tasks. I also felt that German colleagues are better at balancing work and personal life.

You were chosen to go to the Cologne office, how does it differ from the Montreal office?

First of all: the number of people! Unlike the Cologne office, the Montreal office isn’t the largest one in terms of head count. It is definitely something I did not expect, knowing that Cologne is the 4th largest city in Germany. For now, there are only five of us in Montreal (but we’re set to double in size by the end of the year).

Also, the work environment in Cologne is more open-spaced and seemed more conducive to spontaneous collaboration and up-to-date in terms of office ergonomics (I REALLY love the adjustable desks! I really do).

What did you enjoy most during your stay?

The people. The mix between work, entertainment and tourism.

Did you pick up some German words during your stay?

About 20 words to survive, but the most important ones: “Sprechen sie Englisch?” (luckily, “Ya” was often the answer). The least practical sentence I’ve learned was: “ Ich esse eine flascher.” Very difficult to plug in a normal conversation!

Last words for us?

For anyone travelling to Germany, I would definitely recommend Cologne as a must-see destination. The city has so much to offer in terms of culture, history and people. Hopefully, the next time I stop by will be during Karnval! 🙂 Thank you to everyone who took time to show me around, share meals, and just hang out. Your warm welcome was truly appreciated. I also hope to visit other German offices someday. 


Thank you, Yannick!