COMING TOGETHER, CONTINUALLY LEARNING, AND RESPECTING OUR DIFFERENCES IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD

  • Saskia Schäfer
  • Published: 04 November 2020


When I was eight years old, I had a truly life-changing experience. My father received a job posting to Slovakia, and the whole family went with him.  

I was sent to an American international school in Bratislava, and for the first time in my life, I found myself part of a culturally diverse community. In addition to learning about the nuances between German and Slovakian culture, and entering an American school system, I made friends with children who were from completely different backgrounds to my own and were from all around the globe. My best friend had Moroccan roots, and I had other friends who were Japanese, Chinese, American, Swedish, Norwegian. They have all influenced who I am today. 

When I look back on this time, it never felt strange spending evenings and weekends with these families who had very different cultures and habits to my own. It came to be quite natural to do things differently when I was at someone else’s home. Furthermore, my parents were thrilled I had quickly formed new friendships and was getting a great education inside and outside of the school gates.  

I now take this ‘When in Rome’ mentality wherever I go in life. After seven fantastic years in Slovakia, my family returned to Germany. Returning to the German school system at this point in my education was challenging. I had to brush up my German quickly and learn new ways of applying my knowledge. I remember the horror of receiving my paper back from first mathematics test. There was so much red pen on those pages! While in many cases, the answers were correct, the method I had used was unfamiliar to my new teacher, and I had lost marks. Just as in my international school, I needed to embrace change and adapt quickly.  

I believe my early interactions with a variety of cultures and ways of thinking provided good grounding for a consulting career, as a willingness to continuously adapt and learn are also essential in the changing world of financial services! It is our differences that make us special and who we are in life! Each and every one of us is better when we work together, and when we bring in different perspectives and support each other! 

I knew several Capco consultants before joining the firm through my project work. I had always admired their team spirit and liked that they were an international group of individuals. When I was seeking a new challenge in 2017, I remembered these qualities and decided to be apply for a role at Capco. It turned out to be an excellent cultural fit for me. In Capco AGS today, we have more than 25 nationalities working together, and we often collaborate with Capco offices around the world.  

I was proud to be nominated as the new leader of Capco AGS’ Be Yourself at Work (BYAW) network in my first year of joining the firm. By the end of 2019, we realized that we could leverage a whole lot more by merging our BYAW and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. Today, I am happy to be able to work with an amazing team, comprising our women’s network, CSR, and diversity and inclusion, and are making a far greater impact by bringing new and unique perspectives to our initiatives. 

I am hopeful of the day when we no longer need D&I networks, as helping and supporting each other, no matter how different our backgrounds or experiences may be, should be the norm. As world events have shown in 2020, we are certainly not there yet.  Coming together, continually learning, and respecting our differences is the only way forward. It is amazing to be a part of a firm that embodies and promotes these values too.