Adidas’ hunt for worldwide talent
adidas is hungry for international talent. “Make your move” is adidas’ campaign to attract expatriates for their global headquarter in Germany.
ImmigrantSpirit interviewed adidas about the skills they are looking for, benefits for expatriates and their love for sport.
Vicki Ng (25) is Assistant Manager Global Mobility at adidas Group and in charge of the “Make your move” Campaign by adidas to attract international talent.
Interview by Chris Pyak for ImmigrantSpirit.de
ImmigrantSpirit: Can you tell us – what is the idea behind „Make your Move“?
Vicki Ng: Because our global headquarter is located in the small town of Herzogenaurach, where founder Adi Dassler started the company, it is sometimes challenging to attract talent to come here.
Often people aren’t aware where we are in Germany. They are kind of cautious moving to a small town.
Thankfully we’re a large brand, well known around the world and so we’ve been able to attract really great talent to come here, but we don’t take that for granted. One of the reasons why we have „Make your move“ is to continuously ensure that we have the tools to bring talent from all over the world to our global headquarters.
ImmigrantSpirit.de: adidas is kind of spearheading a movement here – if you look at the demoscopic in Germany – what are adidas’ plans for the future – will international talent become more important?
Vicki Ng: International experience will be a big focus for us. We have about 1.200 employees who count officially as international employees – but we have a lot more in the company – and we see that number growing.
That could be short term assignments where we send people for 3-12 months abroad working for different locations so that they gain that experience or hiring externally to ensure that we always have new talent and new experiences coming from abroad to global headquarters.
For specific functions we see a larger need for international talent. For example in design, in global operations and sourcing, marketing and so on. There will be always a need for international talent – and it’s growing.
ImmigrantSpirit.de: You have a wide range of jobs on offer at the website – currently there are 12 pages with open positions. Tell us about the main qualities that adidas is looking for in a candidate? What makes the „adidas attitude“?
Vicki Ng: In general it is someone with a passion for sport. Because we are a sport brand, we really look for people who are passionate about sports.
We’are are looking for someone with a culture fit. We don’t have a formal dress code, We have a big focus on work/life balance. If you’re passionate about sport – which a lot of us are here – you can go running at lunchtime, play football, basketball whatever it is…
Vicki Ng: Yes that’s the Adi Dassler Sportplatz. Its a huge, fully equipped stadium that is not only used by us but also by international sport clubs. During the world cup 2006 the Argentinean teams was practicing here.
ImmigrantSpirit: My guess would be that adidas recruits mostly from the inside – how do you support outside talent that might be interested to work for adidas in Germany? For example designers from India, US or UK?
Vicki Ng: Over half of our international employees are external hires and the rest are internal transfers. For us it is very important to ensure that there is movement inside our internal population. But we are also open to hire external talent.
ImmigrantSpirit.de:There are usually 3 areas that concern expats: visa requirements, cultural differences and – trailing spouses – in what way does adidas support expats here?
Vicki Ng: We offer a basic set of benefits to employees that we hire from abroad. One that you mentioned is the visa, which is pretty standard for us. We are giving full visa support for employees and their families. We basically cover the full relocation.
Depending on the family status and how senior you are, we offer different relocation packages. But at the minimum we will cover travel costs and transportation of goods.
We also have an international school, the franconian international school here. So if you bring over a family we do our very best to place your kids in the school.
We also over a cultural training service from one of our external vendors, In these training they get a feeling what to expect when they come here, what the standards in Business are and other important things.
We also have partnerships with destination service providers; these people are helping hand in hand new employees and their families settling in. They are one of the best resources that we have to help people culturally adapt.
For spouses, we just signed on with a new vendor, to support them with their job search, support, networks – for example the International Woman’s Group which was founded by the wives of adidas’ employees already quite a while ago.
ImmigrantSpirit.de: I noticed that you also offer a lot of internships at adidas – is this a realistic option for a student from abroad who would like to get international experience on his resume?
Vicki Ng: Yes, absolutely – actually I started as an intern here. I came from Canada. If I can do it… (laughs). I met a lot of students from all over the world during my internship. We had students from Brazil, Sweden, France, the UK, the US, China, anywhere…
ImmigrantSpirit.de: You mentioned already that you came from Canada to Germany. When you moved here – when was the first time that you felt: OK, now I am in Germany?
Vicki Ng: Probably when I first arrived at the airport with my luggage. It was in January, it was snow up to my knees and I didn’t see sunshine for about 3 weeks.
But before the internship i had a change to travel around Europe and I also had close friends in Germany and parts of my family live in Nuernberg, so it was a bit easier to settle in. Still it is a big culture shock and I think the language is a big factor in terms of feeling that you’re in a foreign country.
ImmigrantSpirit.de: What were your biggest challenges in settling down in Germany?
Vicki Ng: There is a lot of positives about living in Europe and Germany and there are things that you miss about home. The things that I really appreciate about living in Germany is that I feel there is more freedom. In terms of being able to have a beer outside and not having your ID checked or bars closing at 5am.
And there are some things you miss. In Vancouver you say „hi“ to everyone and you smile – and here you don’t neccessarily say „Good Morning“ to everyone you pass by on the street.
But you start to adapt to when you live in a country for so long. I usually have a reverse culture shock when I go home. I see the cars and I think „The cars and the roads are so big. There is parking space everywhere. Why do the cars have so much consumption in North America“ (laughs) I like that it’s kind of „back to your roots“ and not so consumer focused in Europe.
ImmigrantSpirit.de: Herzogenaurach is a tiny town with 23.000 people. How do the Germans interact with the internationals in adidas? What is your experience?
Vicki Ng: Adidas is not the only international company here. We have Puma across the street. They have international employees as well. And Ina Schaeffler which is the largest company here with 8.000 employees.
Our headquarter is a former army base. So for the locals it’s nothing new to have international people in the town. The city is kind of international. For example the bakery – if they hire new people they ask if they can speak English.
The city is kind of international. The kindergarten is bilingual (German and English). These are things which show that Herzogenaurach is pretty open to the world.
ImmigrantSpirit.de: Thank you for the interview.
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