Meet AIMS International Switzerland’s new team member based in South Africa
This article is part of a series that will showcase the journey Nadja Pentz embarked on, how she joined the AIMS family in November last year, both physically and on her career path, showcasing the true meaning of local & global.
One of the many things that drew me to the world of HR consulting and executive search is the myriad of cultures and leadership styles one is exposed to. Thus, the opportunity to work and live in Switzerland while learning about executive search in preparation to support the Swiss team from South Africa, my home country, was like a dream come true personally and career-wise.
The AIMS organisation consists of offices in over 50+ different countries and the opportunity to work with so many cultures can be both exciting and daunting. I was born and raised in South Africa. Our people are often referred to as the Rainbow Nation due to the melting pot of different cultures with no less than 11 official languages. Living in this environment as part of the ‘born free’ generation (born after the end of the Apartheid era), I was aware of the importance of being open-minded and flexible. Spending time in Switzerland underscored the importance of being open-minded and broadened my horizon, adding to my understanding of international business cultures and leadership styles.
While working closely with the team I was able to get used to working from a home office and really gain a deeper understanding what it means to be an HR Consultant as my mentors are seasoned assessment, coaching, direct search and business advisors to their diverse client base. While we did not realise it at the time, we were in effect also preparing for distance work. This has made the current global crises more bearable as the team is able to work from home and has been set-up to do so very effectively.
Switzerland has amazing forests and of course lakes, which made the time spent there well worth the visit from a tourist’s perspective. However, what I found most intriguing, was the stark political and social differences between Switzerland and South Africa. The social security creates a space were people seem free to pursue careers that interest them and not necessarily those that may be the most profitable. While of course this does not apply to absolutely everyone, it is an interesting phenomenon that very few people in developing countries experience.
The ideological differences I could experience due to a completely different set of social-economic circumstances to my home country, made this experience invaluable. While I have engaged with a variety of cultures and people in my own country, I have never experienced a different economic nor political landscape for such an extended period. These differences in environment shape the way people make career choices as well as life choices.
In executive search the aim is to match the client and vacancy with the best suited candidate in a sustainable way, for both parties to achieve their long-term goals. This valuable opportunity made me acutely aware of the importance of culture – understanding what drives it and the behaviours and actions which are the results of a particular culture. Not only in different countries, religions and backgrounds, but also in organisations. I have found that AIMS International is synonymous with flexibility and strength, which stem from diversity and trust built up over many years of close collaboration. A healthy and robust environment to springboard my career!
Nadja Pentz was born and raised in South Africa. She completed her Bachelor’s in Social Dynamics with a Major in Psychology and went on to do her honours in Business History. She currently works for AIMS Switzerland from South Africa, supporting the team with their daily tasks.