Diego first came to Czech Republic as an employee of Embraer, a Brazilian airplane manufacturer cooperating with Aero. When he got a job offer from our company, he moved to Czech Republic with his family. In Aero, his job is to oversee continuous improvement of the quality and effectivity of individual processes.
Yes, I am the Director of Business Excellence and my responsibility is to drive all continuous improvement activities as well as activities increasing our effectivity. It means we work better and produce more with the same amount of resources that we have today. Specifically, it means increasing the productivity and efficiency. That is a quick summary of my role here in Aero.
I came here initially when I was an Embraer employee in 2012 to run a continuous improvement workshop. I am still practicing them here in Aero as “Kaizen weeks”. Embraer’s policy is to apply this methodology with their suppliers, because they see their suppliers as an extension of the company. As well as improving their internal processes, they understand that to be successful their suppliers need to improve as well. They have these activities that promote the continuous improvement activities internally and with suppliers.
The first time I came here, we ran two very successful projects and by coincidence Aero was looking for someone with my knowledge and skills at that time. The leadership of Aero agreed I was a good fit for this role. They mentioned that they are looking for someone to fill the role that I am in right now. For the first time, they raised the idea as a joke but then it started to become a reality.
I then returned to Brazil but then later I was again back hosting a workshop in Czech Republic. The workshop was again very successful and I think by that time the leaders of Aero were evaluating my contribution. I then received an offer and I went to my wife and we discussed it. We always planned to look for an opportunity with international experience. We have never lived outside Brazil before. Then suddenly there was this opportunity to leave for Europe and work here. Prague and Czech Republic are both very attractive. In my opinion because it is in the center of Europe it is a very safe country, the cost of living here is not so high, the resources and infrastructure are good because you have a good health system and public transportation - so the life style is good. The only issue so far was getting used to the weather, which was difficult at the beginnin. It was a little bit colder than in Brazil. But the main attraction remained.
In addition I wanted to be in a leadership role and my dream was to implement a big programme of continuous improvement as part of the transformation of a company – the culture and the efficiency. Basically I wanted to lead a programme very similar to that in Embraer in which I was fortunate to participate in from 2008 - I have seen the huge transformation of Embraer, so I know it works. They were facing a lot of problems concerning profitability, credibility with their customers and also the efficiency and productivity of the company in my view was too low. By the time the new President arrived in Embraer in 2007 and took over the company, his first words were “We have to do something different” and he and his colleagues decided on the lean philosophy. They started a programme of continuous improvement that transformed completely the company into a very efficient one. So this was also one of my goals – to be able to lead this huge implementation in a company like Aero. I have a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Hence I was attracted into a company such as Aero, which has a long history of successful manufacturing. This all contributed to me moving here.
There is a cultural difference between Brazilian culture and European. I am not talking only about Czechs. Of course when we are talking about Europeans we have some Latin countries and non-Latin countries. In the Latin countries, including Brazil, we are more festive, friendly, open and we speak loud. People from countries like Germany, Czech Republic and UK are in comparison a little bit shy and cold in terms of relations, I realize that the Czech people are different but also very nice. At the beginning of our relations it felt a bit cold but when you get their confidence you can also be very good friends. The Czech culture or mentality wants everything to be on the proper place. On the other hand, some Latins do not have this detail oriented approach. Of course sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not. Flexibility is very high in Brazil but sometimes we need to also follow some rules and that can be a little bit of a weak point. These cultural changes were of course difficult at the beginning. Eventually we got used to the changes and differences… The big problem is the language.
Yes but Czech language is very difficult to learn because the grammar is very complex. For Brazilians it is very difficult because there is nothing in our language related to your grammar system. Of course because I from Latin country and Czech language is Slavic, the vocabulary is very different. The last problem is that in the leadership roles in Aero we use English every day and thus we are not practicing Czech.
I think Aero is on the same level as many other Aerospace company in terms of business relations because we are suppliers to the most important OEMs in the world – Airbus, Sikorsky, Embraer, Bombardier... That means we are not “second level”, we are working with some of the most advanced technologies. Also we are building our own aircraft which have to be competitive with the market. So when you go to Aero you do not go to a small company behind the times. In fact you are going to a company which is highly competitive with the biggest aerospace companies in the world. It also means you are going to be in a very competitive environment and it could bring you a lot of experience and challenges that will improve you.