Bridging Cultures: from Madrid to Zurich and Beyond

Bridging Cultures: from Madrid to Zurich and Beyond

SIX offers an 18-month International Graduate Program for graduates with a degree in business, economics, IT, or communications. The program involves graduates working in four different business units – one of which is located abroad. Nadja Tungprasert went to Madrid. Marina Mendicute Alza traveled to Zurich. They share their impressions and experiences in interview below.

Nadja, Marina, you’ve both completed the International Graduate Program at SIX. As part of this program, you’ve worked in Spain, and Switzerland respectively. In your experience, what are the biggest differences between the two countries?

Nadja Tungprasert (NT): For me, the biggest difference was the time shift in the daily working rhythm. In Spain, the work day starts later, and meal times get shifted back accordingly. I had to get used to that at first. But afterward, I really liked it.

Marina Mendicute Alza (MMA): For me, it was exactly the same, but reversed. This small difference alters the entire course of the day. I quickly learned that it’s not a good idea to schedule a meeting for noon.

What did you come to appreciate most in the culture of your host country?

MMA: I was amazed how environmentally conscious the Swiss are. Swiss people integrate nature into how they live. I find that very admirable.

NT: For me, it was the openness and frankness of the Spanish. They say what they think, and are warm-hearted and down-to-earth at the same time. That made me feel very welcome in Madrid.

In addition to the national culture, you also became familiar with the SIX working culture. Where do you see its strengths in Spain and Switzerland?

NT: Two things really struck me: The first is the high degree of loyalty the BME employees have toward the company, and the other is the strong focus on, and great expertise in, the growth markets in Latin America. As it relates to the work culture in Switzerland, I value the flat hierarchies.

MMA: I find that work and communication culture in Switzerland very direct and transparent. There’s a very goal-oriented approach in order to reach a consensus. This approach also strengthens respect in dealing with each other, and also diversity. In Spain, we highly value personal relationships and social interaction. This also fosters a cooperative working atmosphere.

You’re now familiar with both working cultures: What can Switzerland and Spain learn from each other?

MMA: Switzerland can learn from the Spanish style of social interaction. Spain could take a page from the Swiss book in terms of efficient workplace communication.

NT: I would say that Switzerland can learn from Spain, especially when it comes to direct communication, in order to make processes more straightforward and be able to make decisions more quickly.

Your careers with SIX continue now that you’ve completed your time in the International Graduate Program. How will you apply the skills you developed there in your future roles?

NT: Working in Madrid gave me a better understanding of different cultures. I also provide valuable insights into the Spanish and Latin American financial markets. Both will benefit me in my future career path.

MMA: Having worked in a number of business units in Zurich, I was able to develop my flexibility in particular. I’m coming away from my time in the Exchanges business unit with a variety of experiences and numerous newly acquired sills – particularly a 360-degree perspective of the business activities of SIX.