Eduard Lopez: Bringing cultures together
Since its foundation in 2002, Foxconn Global Services Division (FGSD) has been a melting pot of nationalities, cultures and managerial approaches. Diversity served FGSD well: when working with global customers one needs to know how to build on diversity and turn it into a competitive advantage. One of the newest members of the FGSD management team joined the company precisely a year ago. Eduard Lopez, the account operations manager for the FGSD Mobile Repair Center (MRC) is a Spanish native who returned to work to the Czech Republic after an eight-year loop in Romania, a managerial experience that enriched him and opened his horizons, he says.
Eduard, 53, comes from Valencia, the third largest city of Spain. “It’s a region with mild, warm winters and quite hot summer, so close to the sea that you can feel the breeze pretty much anytime,” he says. After graduating university, Eduard turned to technology. He joined IBM in 1989, a time when communist regimes were falling apart in Eastern Europe and a whole new era was opening up for technology companies operating on the Old Continent. Focused on the new possibilities, IBM left Valencia in 1995 after selling its assets to MSL. Six years later, a new company, Celestica, took over the electronic manufacturing operations from MSL. It is with Celestica that Eduard’s international career truly started.
“I had been asking my managers for an assignment abroad for years. So when such an assignment came for the Czech Republic in 2006 I took it on the spot. Like many Spaniards I didn’t know much about the Czech Republic at that time. But I was open to learn, so of course I said yes,” he says. Eduard moved to Kladno, in Central Bohemia. One year later, Celestica needed him in Brno, so he moved further to the Moravian capital. From Brno, following Celestica’s decision to leave the Czech Republic, Eduard moved to Romania, a country much closer culturally to his own background, he admits. “Initially I was supposed to be there for one year. I ended up in Romania for almost eight years. If you’re in one specific country, you don’t know much about the rest. When you move around and you start working with different people and different countries, you learn a lot. Overall it has been a very positive experience.”
Back to the Czech Republic
Following the closure of his mandate with Celestica in Romania at the end of 2015, Eduard returned to Spain. When the opportunity came from Foxconn to return to the Czech Republic in early 2016, he took it both hands. Eduard joined FGSD in March 2016 as an account operations manager for the new Mobile Repair Center (MRC). “The idea for us was to start building a mobile repair business that is fully aligned with the market. We are now in a new business environment for Foxconn and we are competing with companies that have been doing this for years. While we are new, our competitors have skills, experience, processes and they understand the market very well. We need to respect that, but also to develop our own people and processes. The challenge these days is to keep growing our business. We already have a very good team of engineers and technicians whom we are developing. The idea is to keep this steady grow in business while increasing our market knowledge,” he describes his current main challenges.
Asked what is specific about the Spanish way of doing business, Eduard says that, in general, Latin cultures are more flexible when looking for solutions. “On the other hand we are also more disorganized and less precise. I was very positively surprised to see how precise the Czech culture is. When you solve something here, you must do it properly. On the other hand I sometimes feel that I’m about to lose my temper when something takes too long because you must fix it in a certain way and there is no flexibility about how to go around things,” he says with a smile. “What people should know about me is that I appreciate very much people when being honest and open. My office is open anytime to anyone willing to come and discuss any issue. What makes me rather nervous is when people are complaining without doing anything about the issue, or when people are interrupting when someone is talking. This comes across to me like a lack of respect and it makes me feel uncomfortable,” he reflects on his values. How does this attitude about interrupting goes hand in hand with his Latin origin, given that Latin people are known for their preference of speaking loud and at the same time? “I guess I have some DNA that is not Latino, particularly when it regards work or business discussions,” he laughs.
Sweet sunny Valencia – with a plate of paella
Asked on some more specifics about his place of origin, Eduard offers an intriguing detail. Near Valencia there is a large lake – Pobles del Sud – which harbors water eels. “We love eating these eels; it’s one of the famous dishes in Valencia. Our most famous dish is, of course, paella, which is rice cooked with different ingredients such as chicken and seafood,” he says.
Moving from the kitchen back to business, Eduard reflects to the future economic perspectives for his homeland. “Spain has improved a bit after the economic crisis, but there is still a long way to go. The main source of income is tourism and this was badly hurt during the crisis. In Spain most of the industrial and technological network disappeared; everything went to China. Now it is very hard to recover from that point. The key for Spain will be to innovate and to sell the creative solutions they will come up with. If there is no investment on creating something new in order to attract investments, it will be difficult for the Spanish economy in the future,” he concludes.
Author: Cristina Muntean, Integrated Communications Manager, FGSD