mercoledì 15 febbraio 2012

Through foreigners eyes: Hetty de Vogel (I)

Next post Friday Feb 17th

Hetty loves Italy, and she talks about our country in her blog, that you can find in her website fully dedicated to the pleasure of Italian gourmandizes, like olive oil, wine and so on.
You’ll fine a short bio, better say her story at the end of this intriguing interview that is aimed to share what Italy appears to be when seen through “foreigners eyes”.
Since the interview is very detailed and therefore quite long, we will publish it in two separate post.
We would like to thank Hetty for her courtesy and warmly recommend you to visit her website!
How came you were based in Italy?
Actually, I'm not based in Italy, not anymore. I've been living in Italy for about 12 years and now I'm living in Paris. I'm Dutch, I accomplished my studies in the Netherlands and after my graduation I left  for Italy.
Why Italy? Because I've always loved Italy.  Since my childhood, when I went every summer holiday with my parents to Italy.

What do you honestly think of Italy?
It is difficult to answer this question in one sentence. As I said before you can imagine that I'm not very objective. I adore Italy, the Italian people, the culture, its history, the nature, the way of living and of course its food. I can really say that I feel at home in Italy. Anyway, being Dutch with a Dutch education and having lived and worked in Italy and having travelled a lot, I don't close my eyes and I can see some more negative sides of this country.
For example the malfunctioning of the public services, the low salaries in comparison to the Northern European ones, the difficulties for young people to start an independent life without support from their parents

How do you see the future of this country?
In the current unstable economical situation the whole world is in nowadays, it is very hard to tell how the future of Italy will be. I'm not an expert, so it's difficult to make any predictions.
I sincerely believe that Italy and Italian companies have a very great potential and they have such a lot of sources, of culture, creativity and ideas that they can really exploit all.  I'm not only talking about the small and average companies,/industries, but also about individual young people having good ideas and being creative. I think that for one reason or another they don't take advantage enough of everything they have and of all the possibilities there are to create jobs and business. For example internet, internet marketing for the promotion of Italian companies, small and bigger ones, still isn't very much used. 

Which are your hints and suggestions for foreigners willing to make business with Italy and Italian people? and specifically
            a) what to avoid?
            b) what to consider?
Having worked in Italy as an export manager and import manager and now trading with Italy, I can suggest to foreigners who want to start a collaboration with an Italian company to slow down and take their time. I will try to explain my opinion: If foreigners want to work with Italian companies and people, but not only Italy, I believe more generally, when you want to work with a foreign country, you have to know and learn about there habits and most of all adapt yourself to it and respect them.
This means in Italy you have to take your time. Things don't go as fast and quick as they may go in Northern Europe. Business discussions and deals often take place during long "relaxed" lunches rather then from an office. Often stories about their city and region (Italians are proud about there roots), about their family, their holidays abroad, are discussed before getting into the real business.
Italian companies may seem less organized or maybe are organized "the Italian way", but is is just a way of decipher there way of dealing. For example "delivery next week" means maybe next week, but it might be the week after. "There is no way of an early delivery"; just ask again and then they will pick up the phone and do there upmost to speed up things. 
Even if things are changing a bit, Italians don't speak very well foreign languages. The communication might be a bit difficult in the beginning. But with their creativity they find their way of expressing themselves. 
If you realize this and if you take this into account, working with Italy and Italians becomes really pleasant, stimulating and interesting.

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