January 28, 2019

Global Employee Exchange Program in the Philippines

Author: Odette Butzke

With the end of the year coming closer, it is always a good opportunity to reflect the year that will soon be left behind. When I look back at the year 2018, I feel fortunate.

My year’s highlight was Vistaprint’s G.E.E.P. – the Global Employee Exchange Program. It gives us the opportunity to be send to another Vistaprint site of choice. The goal of this program is to exchange knowledge, experience and culture as well as establish a connection or even friendship between colleagues of different sites.

On September 11th, I set off to Manila to find out, why it’s more fun in the Philippines.

On my first day in the office I received a very warm welcome and I was surprised that everyone seemed to know my name. I was told that Philippines are shy at the beginning, but I experienced quite the opposite – everybody was open and curious. One of the things I was asked the most was: Do you have snow in Germany?
The mood in the office was always cheerful, everybody smiled. There was always music in the office; either because someone was singing, playing guitar or just listening to music – and everybody loved it. Fridays are known as acoustic Fridays, so that’s when you find someone playing and singing somewhere in the office. Friday is also the day of the ceremonies, e.g. Graduation Day and Recognition Day. Graduation Day takes place after a training class has finished and on Recognition Day the best performing specialists get rewarded. Those days also include entertaining activities, for example a group performing a choreography, singing a song or playing a game.

My task was to support the recruiting team with interviews for German speaking specialists. Shortly after my arrival, the training for the German Specialists started and I was lucky enough to meet the new team members in person before working with them remotely from Germany. Besides that, I shadowed my colleagues and joined their meetings to find out what they do differently, to learn from them and get inspired.

At the weekends, I had time to explore Manila, which was not as easy as it is in Berlin. The traffic is crazy, and you basically always need a cab to get somewhere. Jeepneys, the typical Filipino mini busses, were not available in my part of town. Malls are very popular and a common meeting points for family dinners; the one close to my hotel was Venice themed and even offered gondola rides. Christmas season started very early for me this year because everything was already decorated, and Christmas songs were playing all day long.
I also visited the Taal Volcano with two of my colleagues. Walking up to the top was very exhausting for me – and I would probably have given up without my lovely colleague Jet, who kept convincing me that I will make it to the top. I’m so glad I did, because the view was fantastic!

After two weeks I cannot explain why but I can confirm that indeed everything is more fun in the Philippines and the people are as sweet as most of their food.

 

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