Deloitte Netherlands is a very international company, with cultures from all over the world. Each culture has its own wonderful contribution. Not to mention the Third Culture Kids, who not only inherited the culture of their parents, but also that of the country they grew up in. Alissa Cao, Product Owner/Project Manager IT Cloud, and Laurens Braas, Business Analyst Financial Services at Deloitte, can tell us all about it.

‘I am Norwegian, but also Chinese and Vietnamese’, Alissa (25) explains. ‘My parents were refugees who came to Norway because of the Vietnam war. What being a Third Culture Kid means to me? I am happy to identify with a bunch of different cultures. I can speak Norwegian, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Mandarin, French, English and Dutch. But when I am in Asia, I am too Western to be Asian. And in Norway, I am too Asian to be Western.’ Seven years ago, Alissa came to the Netherlands and fell in love with the country. ‘I like the culture, the Dutch snacks and the fact that Central Europe is so close to everything. But what appeals to me the most is the diversity. In Rotterdam you can eat authentic Japanese, Surinamese or Indonesian food without having to travel to Tokyo, Paramaribo or Jakarta. The whole world is at your doorstep.’

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The international kid

Laurens (24) was born in Venezuela and lived in Oman, Egypt, Dubai and Australia before moving to the Netherlands to study economics. ‘My parents are both Dutch and we visited the Netherlands every summer holiday, so I felt Dutch. But when I moved to Groningen when I was 18 years old, it was a bigger culture shock than I expected. I was the international kid. It then dawned on me that culture is in the little things. It’s in the videos you see online when you grow up, the food you eat or the jokes you crack. I went to high school in Australia and those years shape you the most, so I guess that I felt Australian too.’ Being a Third Culture Kid has its pros and cons, according to Laurens. ‘You sometimes feel as if you’re in between cultures. But it also expands your view and gives you a broader sense of culture. I am comfortable with all different kinds of cultures and that is a big benefit to have in your life.’

Alissa - As a Third Culture Kid, I am happy to identify with a bunch of different cultures.

Bringing different perspectives

Alissa and Laurens both started working at Deloitte at the beginning of this year. ‘I had already worked at big corporates’, Alissa says. ‘But what attracted me to Deloitte, is the diversity. As a Product Owner/Project Manager I take care of the IT Cloud team, setting the overall scope of a new project or demand. Our team is very international with colleagues coming from South Korea, Pakistan, the US and India. I am a goal setter and I like our fast-paced working environment. We come from different cultures and we bring different perspectives to the table, but we all have the same goals.’

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Laurens is part of a new traineeship program within Financial Advisory, which is called the Financial Services Industry Traineeship. ‘In the duration of 8 months, we have 3 rotations within teams related to financial services’, he explains. ‘I now work with the Forensic Team, which is focused on making companies better at protecting and detecting fraud and money laundering. The work is still new to me, but the open, inclusive atmosphere already made a big impression. People are very approachable and there is a huge diversity in everyone’s background.’

Laurens - At Deloitte, everyone is free to be themselves and share elements from their culture.

Be yourself

‘Because Deloitte is so diversified, you can see that there is a lot of respect for different cultures’, Laurens continues. ‘Awareness is key and Deloitte is committed to making people aware. Recently, I joined the iftar event Deloitte hosted for Muslim colleagues and sympathizers, which is a very good way to dive into the meaning of Ramadan together.’ Alissa: ‘We also celebrated Holi, the Indian festival of colors, love and spring, dancing and wearing traditional cloths. Public holidays can be switched, which is a small but important gesture. Everybody is included.’ Laurens concludes: ‘At Deloitte, everyone is free to be themselves and share elements from their culture. It is accepted, encouraged and appreciated by people in the organization.’

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