Today, Harald Kruithof is BBi Communications’s Group CEO. Coming from the Netherlands, he has been in the language education business for many years. Hans Dahlin, our Group Manager for Mergers and Acquisitions, has also been involved in the language industry for some time. As both have always strived to stay up-to-date about increasing globalisation impacts our lives, they were quick to recognise the strong need for effective intercultural communication (IC). Their work within the language field offered nuanced experiences which clearly demonstrated how with a combination of culture and language training, multicultural teams can establish strong benefits, creating business advantages.
“Organisational development and personal development go hand in hand. It’s all too easy to focus just on one, It’s the balance between them where the magic happens.” – Harald Kruithof
In 2012, BBi Communication Netherlands, then known as Language Partners, was looking for a partner in order to help a client operating in both markets. Thus the initial connection was established. During a trip to Stockholm, Harald met Hans over a beer. With them was Language Partner’s and now BBi Communication’s Commercial Director, Cintha Roersma and BBi Communication’s Global Training Manager, Jenny Kimming. After some food and another drink or two, they started recognizing that they held a shared vision on language learning as well as personal and professional development. From then they had regular contact, continuing to share ideas and insights, further developing their appreciation for the developing need of intercultural competence. Language Partners and BBi Communication merged in December of 2022, allowing us to serve more people, in more places.
Now that we’ve settled down after the merger, we thought it would be a good idea to take a moment and sit down with two of our leaders who are responsible for guiding BBI Communication to where it is today. In our chat we were able to pick their brain about, understanding where they’ve come from, how we have gotten to where we are, and what they think the future holds.
What about Intercultural Communication and Language excites you the most?
“It’s not the products, but the possibility to build the organisation and people within, and the challenges that come with that.” – Hans Dahlin
For Harald, creating cutting edge training programs are a highlight. That is only boosted by contributing to the creation of lasting behaviour change, with the least amount of effort for our students. This plays right into Hans’ love of creating impact that supports organisation development through the personal and professional development of those within it. Both enjoy the unique challenges that each individual, team and organisation face when engaging in successful and mindful management of multicultural and/or multilingual teams.
What challenges do you see the Language and Intercultural Communication market facing?
Hans and Harald are aligned here, as they see organisations facing the ‘war for talent’. Labour shortages are forcing new approaches to recruitment and retention efforts. Multicultural environments have become commonplace, so much so that even in homogenous cultures, professionals would find it difficult to not interact with another culture. Organisations are starting to see the benefits that come from being multicultural themselves. However, they are often slow to recognise the changes they must make to create a successful and sustainable multicultural team. Often, measurability is a key to this understanding. Convincing lagging organisations that multicultural teams create measurable benefits such as increases in innovation, collaboration and both employee and client satisfaction, is not always easy.
“…a company’s culture should be rooted in the corporate strategy and will be shaped and changed by intercultural communication and competence.” – Harald Kruithoff
What opportunities do you see coming to the language and Intercultural Communication market?
Both enjoy helping organisations develop. Included in that is the capacity to develop diversity within organisations, while supporting the establishment and maintenance of a unique inclusive culture. Such a culture has the ability to support the fluctuating needs of its stakeholders, while allowing everyone the opportunity to grow. Alongside of this is the excitement that comes with offering impactful language services.
“Language is very important for the future, for any industry. You have to be able to communicate, it’s like food, you will always need a kitchen – you will always need language.” – Hans Dahlin
As countries, cultures and industries continue to become more interconnected than ever, the ability to help people establish mutually-beneficial connections, through shared language, is a stimulating opportunity. Building on the capacity for engagement with the development of Intercultural competence offers a strong sense of purpose for our work.
What does success look like to you?
Part of what made Han’s and Harald’s partnership work is mutual agreement here. They feel that if, in about 10 years, we are able to look back and see thousands of employees and employers who we’ve been able to help earn a high level of happiness with both their personal and organisation development. That is success. Working with clients to understand and overcome the issues they face due to labour market changes and multicultural environments, is success as well. Pride is found, and earned, when the people we serve show us a happy face.
We’ll end with some last thoughts on what we are uniquely capable of, what sets us apart. Our long experience in education has allowed us to have an established and effective approach to lasting behavioural change. Our nuanced social learning approach to language combined with state-of-the-art intercultural communication training can be aligned to corporate strategy, while contributing to the establishment and maintenance of the right and unique company culture.