A family of
Sérgio Künzel at Volvo Trucks has moved from one side of the world to the other with his family – from Brazil, via northern Sweden, to Australia. “Being able to learn about so many different cultures and places through your job is a fantastic opportunity. You grow as an individual,” he says.
Six years ago, Global Magazine carried an article about Sérgio Künzel who was offered the chance to work at the Group’s northernmost plant, the cab plant in Umeå in Sweden. At that time, Sérgio had been working at Volvo Trucks in Curitiba, Brazil, for 18 years and he wanted to see what it was like to work in another country. He was even prepared
to move to a different continent.
The Künzel family, Sérgio, his wife, Ester, and their children, Pedro and Anna Carolina, then 14 and nine years of age, packed their bags and moved to Umeå. They left the heat of Brazil and arrived in the middle of winter, with cold, snow and ice.
“We have never been so cold,” Sérgio said at that time.
Despite differences in the way of life in Brazil and Sweden, their time in Umeå was very enjoyable. Sérgio Künzel was responsible for global product and production planning. The family were made to feel welcome and they made many new friends.
Just over two years later, the family was offered the chance to move to Australia and the plant in Brisbane and they all regarded it as an exciting challenge.
“We said, ‘Why not, let’s try something different’,” explains Sérgio.
One warm spring day, six years later, we therefore found the family walking beside the Brisbane River. Pedro is now 20 and Anna Carolina is 15. Sérgio is working as manufacturing engineering manager and is responsible for new products, among other things. One interesting difference compared with his job in Umeå is that he is now working with two brands, Volvo Trucks and Mack.
“On a normal day, I start work early in the morning with telephone meetings with my colleagues at Mack in the USA and I then hold discussions with Volvo Trucks in Sweden in the afternoon. It’s a creative mix of different business cultures and ways of thinking and solving problems.
It’s both inspiring and challenging,” he says.
When it comes to the weather and the heat, it was easier for a Brazilian to adapt to Australia rather than Sweden, according to Sérgio. It is also easier to learn Australian English than it was to learn Swedish.
“At the same time, the culture and the way of life differ and it takes time to adapt,” says Sergio and he goes on to explain why. “You need to have an open mind and be a skilled and sensitive observer, without ever losing your own identity,” he says.
Sérgio explains that both he and his family have grown as individuals. As he sees it, new experiences and new environments help people develop. The family has also been firmly welded together.
“We are a team that experience things. We shall take this with us for the rest of our lives. We have lived in three totally different cultures. We have travelled and met many different people and visited many places. This has strengthened our self-confidence. The world has become
a little smaller thanks to Volvo Trucks,” he says.
The difficult thing is the distance to friends and relatives – and the family has now also made friends in Sweden.
“Missing people is the worst thing. All four of us have different problems and practical things we have to deal with, but we support one another as much as we can,” he says and talks about something as straightforward and practical as driving a car.
“In Sweden, we had to learn to drive on snow and ice, whereas here in Australia we have had to learn to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. However, everything is possible if people just help one another,” he says.