Rania Oraby – ‘I Want to Take the Business Forward’

25 Egyptian executives from the middle and upper management levels participated in a one-month Training Programme in Cologne and Berlin in early 2013 organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the Industrial Training Council (ITC) and the Carl Duisberg Centres (CDC). In an interview, Programme participant Ranja Oraby describes her experiences in Germany.

What were your expectations for your stay in Germany?
We, i.e. the other participants and I, had already had contact with Germans through our work. At the same time, my head was filled with questions; for example: what lay behind the cool smile? Was it really meant to be so cool or was that just my interpretation? Did Germans always have such a resolute manner? And what is the secret of this country’s success? Especially against the background of our Arabian culture with its customs and traditions, these were interesting questions with which I set off for Germany.

What answers have you found to your questions?
I was quite astonished; the people in Germany turned out to be very friendly and hospitable. Naturally, not the same as in Egypt, but in their own way − perhaps Germans are just not as easily approachable as Egyptians. The Programme offered a good opportunity to gain deeper insight into the German profile and German culture. We were surprised at the successes, innovation and progressiveness.That is why I definitely wanted to participate in the Programme.

What were your experiences with the Programme?
First of all, the coaches from the Carl Duisberg Centres were very helpful and wonderful to work with. Then, the information and learning materials had been selected carefully, so that my colleagues and I were able to improve several of our management skills. Great importance was generally placed on the acquisition of intercultural values and competencies, which would make dealing with the German culture and German business world easier for us. I had the opportunity to meet Germans at some business meetings and also benefited from that. I was proud to work professionally, leave a good impression and achieve results, which previously would have been out of my reach and which amazed my colleagues and superiors.

Were you able to apply what you had learned when you arrived back in Egypt?
I returned with many ideas and theories, but also with pleasant memories. It was very surprising to see how well some of my ideas were accepted, considering how difficult the implementation is, particularly in view of the differences in the general framework of economic policy. But with determination, perseverance and a strategic plan, conditions and circumstances can be changed step by step.

What exactly did you do during training?
I really benefited a lot from the visits to companies from different sectors. They seem to have found the secret ingredients of success and to be able to maintain this success by creating favourable conditions. They utilise the strengths and motivation of their employees and their resources. The most important aspects are clear rules in everyday work, good time management and giving employees a sense of belonging to the company. I was able to discover how family companies can be consistently successful over generations, irrespective of how small and humble they were at the start; Remondis Recycling is a good example. I also belong to a family-owned business, which was established by my grandfather and continued by my father, Magdy Oraby. I want to take the business forward. With the support of the CDC team, especially of my lecturer Jörg Kalmbach, I was able to establish business contacts with a number of companies. Altogether, I visited more than ten companies with which I have signed cooperation agreements and which are considered throughout Germany and Europe to be leaders in their specialist fields. Our strategic aim is cooperation in the form of joint ventures. However, the current situation in Egypt makes it very difficult to take such a step.

What is your summary of your stay?
I was particularly fascinated by the beauty, character and architecture of the historical buildings in the many German cities that I sawand experiencedwithin the scope of the Programme. It also impressed me that such importance is placed on the protection of historical monuments. Altogether, the training was very helpful, and I benefited a lot from it. The Programme provided answers to the questions that had been in my mind for a long time, enabling me to improve my personal and practical skills. But what is more important is the human aspect: I have gained friends and got to know cities I fell in love with. Cologne, for example!

Thank you for the interview!