The residency in Panama was a life changing experience as I had the chance to get more insights on work culture. Some of the insights include the etiquette of Panama such as the way of passing greetings, the mode of dressing of the people and how the people address each other in a different setting. It was more convincing to be part of the community and experience the culture of the citizens as well as observing some norms that otherwise could not be identified on rare view. For instance, from a general perspective, Panama has learned individuals in different professions. However, unless one stays with the people for some time, it is hard to note that these people address each other using titles such as a teacher being referred to as a professor.
Before departure, I had individual opinions about Panama that changed while others did not. I had the perception that since Panama is near the border of South Africa and America, it will have a diverse population. I was right as when I arrived in Panama; I learned that the place is a commercial transit point and it has a large number of immigrants from China, India, some parts of Europe and Africa. The existence of diverse groups is an indication that Panama is a multinational work environment. I also had the view that since Panama seems to be a country that has a lot of natives; the number of women in employment and leadership would not measure up with that of men. Shockingly, there is an increased drive for females to take up managerial positions as the outdated attitudes towards women that they cannot take up leadership positions still exists. Concerning employment, women work in different occupations, but the only difference is that a few of them hold leadership positions. I also did not expect that the community has a culture where when a business person has a visitor, during dining time the guest is supposed to sit at one end of the table while the host is meant to sit on the other end. Some of
The most beneficial thing about the residency was learning about the beliefs and attitudes of employees in different organizations in Panama. I find it intriguing to understand how work culture plays a significant function in extracting the best out of employees and making them stay with the company longer. We all understand the importance of employees retention. Many businesses aim at retaining talent. It does not only help a company to save time and resources that would have been used in recruiting and training new employees, but it enables a company to gain competitive advantage. When an employee stays for long in business, it means that they are being treated right. As a result, when an employee feels he or she is valued, they put more efforts in their work.
The most impactful site visit was the visit at Manzanillo International Terminal. It is because the working environment is multinational as it serves people from a diverse background; it is under the influence of international enterprises like the SSA Marine, and it has brought change on the work status of local women. A brief history of MTI is that it was first built on the former US Naval base. It was previously utilized for storage and distribution center for vehicles for Latin America. However, in the recent past, the terminal has advanced and become a full logistic complex which includes a first world container port that also stores large containers, act as a logistic park and also a multimodal platform that links maritime, ground, railroad and air transportation services.
From the visit to the company and after talking to a few people, I observed that the business has employees from a diverse background. That is, I could see both Blacks, Whites and even some Indians and Hispanics. However, despite the employees coming from different origin, I noticed that all staffs were dressed officially and when approached, they would respond politely without minding a persons age. Besides, being an international terminal, MTI serves both local and international people thus it is under the influence of a global enterprise. It means that the company has a common belief and values that in which they operate under to ensure that employees work together as a team regardless of their nationality, sex or age. The company also works closely with local women. It is the most appealing thing about Manzanillo International Terminal. As stated earlier, Panama is a country that has been trying to encourage women to participate more in leadership positions as currently it is being dominated by men. MTI shares the value with the community through employing women with several of them holding managerial positions. One of the managers told me that to ensure that new employees fit into the company culture when hiring new candidates; they mostly look for a personality that could be aligned to the already existing team. Typically, they hire individuals with transferable skills.
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