With a population of over 43,000, Weinheim is definitely not the smallest town in Germany. But if, like Naman Jolly, you come from Delhi, the “city of two castles” must seem a pretty sleepy place. Delhi has a population of over eleven million and is the second largest city in India. But nevertheless Jolly felt drawn to Weinheim. He has been working for the Freudenberg Group since October 2010 and now talks about his life in Germany.
“I’ll never forget the first time I drove my wife in Germany,” Jolly recalls. “She yelled at me not to brake when the traffic light turned amber. And she was scared when I hit 160 km/h on the highway.” You have to fight every meter of the way on Indian roads, so there is little opportunity to drive at the kind of speeds that are common on German highways. But Jolly has also come to appreciate the more relaxed atmosphere in Germany, something he discovered at the region’s many summer festivals and fairs. “You have to get out and about – that’s so important for understanding and adapting to a new culture.” Jolly also relished his favorite German food at these events – bratwurst and schnitzel are something special given that pork is much less common in India than it is in Germany. But he still hasn’t developed a taste for sauerkraut.
The road to Germany
At Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, Jolly is currently working on new growth strategies for seals and vibration control products in India and Australia under the “Young People Program”. This is an 18-month trainee program where participants get to know various divisions and locations in the company. Freudenberg isn’t Jolly’s first encounter with Germany, though. While studying for his bachelor’s degree in India he already spent four months working in production at a food manufacturer in the summer of 2001. Although he attended a German course at the Goethe-Institut in Delhi before he left, there were still communication problems. “My colleagues all spoke a dialect,” says Jolly with a grin. “Not many of them could speak English. I often found it difficult to understand them.” Jolly spent several years in China and the USA after completing his degree. He did not return to Germany until 2009, once he had decided to study for an MBA. “That was when I learnt quite a bit about German punctuality,” Jolly remembers. “If you don’t hear to the contrary, you keep the appointment at the arranged time in Germany. In India, you only know for sure the meeting will take place if you confirm it just before its scheduled time – and even then you might have to factor in an hour’s wait.”
Freudenberg believes in cultural diversity
Naman Jolly particularly appreciates the cultural diversity at Freudenberg, where teams of associates from many different countries pool their skills. That not only enriches the corporate culture, it also broadens personal horizons. “I found it really easy to integrate at Freudenberg thanks to my colleagues,” Jolly reports. “Together with the other trainees, we regularly met up after work.” Jolly’s daughter was born in spring this year. She’ll be growing up in a multicultural world, too. Her parents talk English and Hindi with her, and when she’s old enough they hope she will find a place in a German kindergarten. Looking to the future, Jolly can imagine working in yet another country – he finds Asia especially attractive. For now, though, he’s enjoying his time in Germany. There is plenty of sightseeing he wants to do with his family. Trips to Lake Constance and to Dresden are right at the top of his list.