Jim, our controller here at Weleda North America, recently came back from a six-month stint working at Weleda in Germany. I recently sat down with him to get the scoop on the differences between Weleda Germany and Weleda North America, and here is a snapshot of our conversation.
Me: In a nutshell, how would you best summarize your trip to Germany?
Jim: Living and working in Germany was definitely an enriching experience in every way. I learned a lot—both culturally and personally, and also with regard to my job at Weleda. I would say I had a great time!
Me: How was working for Weleda in Germany different than working for Weleda North America?
Jim: First of all, Weleda Germany is a lot bigger than Weleda North America, both in terms of size and the number of employees. I worked with a lot more people on projects, and the job functions are more defined and specified. Business culture is different, too. The German “handshake,” for example, takes some getting used to. But, in general, the two aren’t that much different. I was still working for the same company, Weleda, which cares immensely about its employees.
Me: How is Weleda perceived in Germany?
Jim: Weleda is deeply rooted in Germany, and everybody is familiar with the brand—it’s known for its high-standards and long tradition. Many people are emotionally attached to the brand and appreciate that the products have been around since they were little kids, since even their parents were little kids! But once people in the U.S. and Canada get to know Weleda, they inevitably develop the same kind of attachment that the people in Germany have for it.
Me: Is there anything you learned about Weleda you had not known before?
Jim: I didn’t necessarily learn anything new about the brand itself, but my stay was certainly a reinforcement of what I have already come to know: namely, that Weleda is an amazing company! It was great to see what it’s all about, visit the Biodynamic® gardens, eat in the certified-organic Weleda restaurant and experience eco-friendliness first hand.
Me: What was your personal high?
Jim: Besides the great working environment, and an office right next to a green turtle pond, one of the things I enjoyed most was living in downtown Stuttgart, a great city. I especially enjoyed the “Fruehlingsfest,” Stuttgart’s annual springtime fair, and watching the World Cup. Everything seemed to stop during the games, and afterwards, the city was full of happy, celebrating people. It was an amazing experience. Last but not least, I quite enjoyed driving 155 mph on the Autobahn every now and then. :-)
Me: What did you take back home with you?
Jim: Actually, my punctuality improved a lot after my stay in Germany. I know it’s a stereotype, but it’s also true. The Germans are always on time! I wish I could have taken some food back with me. I loved the typical “Swabian” kitchen in South Germany, especially the currywurst, spaetzle and maultaschen. They're German classics, just like Weleda.