Susanna Hess-Kalcher – Although originally from Cologne, she loves her second home in Bavaria, where she grew up, but her heart also beats for Central and South America. Since finishing her studies 25 years ago, she has lived with her husband and son on the continent – after completing business trips to 6 different Latin American countries. There are many things that fascinate her about the region and especially Mexico: the friendly and open people, the scenery, the impressive culture, the climate with 360 days of sun and, of course, delicious tacos. Susanna Hess-Kalcher has guts and likes to leave well-trodden paths – even while riding her enduro over rough terrain.
The graduate of political science and ethnology has been consulting German companies and governments in Latin America for 25 years. Most recently, she acted as Managing Director of German Centre Mexico, a subsidiary of Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. Before this, she worked for GIZ as a government advisor for the state modernization program in Chile. She headed the foreign offices of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Chile and Paraguay, where she managed consulting projects on environmental, judicial and rule of law reforms. As Managing Director at Staufen Americas she wants to successfully establish Lean philosophy in the “Americas” as the path to the future along with her Managing Director colleague Arturo Medellín.
Susanna Hess-Kalcher has accompanied many German companies entering the Central and South American market and knows that they have an excellent reputation, because “Made in Germany“ is still a benchmark. “But if you want to be successful, you need to consider many things. This does not necessarily mean growing worried when something does not go well. Because Central and South Americans are masters at improvisation.” To be successful here networks are essential, “know-who” is sometimes more effective than “know-how”.
The Intercultural Manager
In Central and South America, Germans sometimes easily put their foot in their mouths. This includes, for example, their direct way of communicating. “The fact that we always blurt things out does not really suit people here,“ says Susanna Hess- Kalcher. In fact, there are crucial cultural differences that must be considered in the job, especially when you are in a leadership position. “Learning the language and cultural empathy when preparing for a job is a must.”