Posted: 26 Jun. 2023

We are very happy to be working in a project team that has a nice mix of different backgrounds and ideas. It’s fun and very productive.

Cahide, Donika & Oliver all grew up in different cultures and talk about how their background shaped them in their different areas of life – personally and professionally. A little teaser: it’s a huge enrichment!

Diversity is our superpower and cyber unites us!
We empower each other. We accelerate growth. We shape the future.
How? With our common passion for topics related to cyber and, much more important, with our diversity in cultures!

We are very happy to be working in a project team that has a nice mix of different backgrounds and ideas. It’s fun and very productive.

Hello everyone, you are all part of Deloitte’s cyber team and were brought up inculturally different backgrounds. What are your roots and how do you identify yourself?
Cahide: My mother is half Turkish, half Georgian. In the 1990s, she migrated to Germany as the daughter of a guest worker. My father is a second generation migrant of a Turkish guest worker, born and raised in Germany. I identify myself as a Turkish-German woman.

Donika: I was born in Kosovo and raised in Germany. I identify myself as an Albanian-German woman.

Oliver: My parents are Lebanese, I was born and raised in Germany, and studied in the UK. I grew up in a suburban environment and learned very early that I was different from most of my classmates and friends. During my rebellious teenage phase, I struggled a lot with my cultural background. Fortunately, one day a friend of my parents, an American-Lebanese professor, helped me when he told me not to try to be one or the other, but to think of myself as an international person. Since then, I no longer identify as one or the other.

Did you grow up in contact with multiple cultures? If so, what do you all like most about your multiculturalism?
Cahide: I was born in Germany but couldn’t speak a single word German until I joined kindergarten – my parents valued teaching me Turkish first. Consequently, in my parents’ household the Turkish culture was dominant. However, the cultural influence of living in a little village in Bavaria with a small percentage of migrants was obviously enormous. Growing up in two rather different environments helped me to develop the ability to adapt quickly and effectively to different situations and contexts.

Donika: What I like about having grown up in multiple cultures is being able to understand different cultural aspects by heart and mediate between them, if necessary. About Albanian culture I especially like the music, history, and of course the food. I am glad that I was taught the Albanian language by my parents at a very young age as it has its own stem and therefore does not resemble any other language. The German language I learned in kindergarten by being exposed to the German-speaking environment. As a child, it is way easier to learn a new language, that’s why I am thankful to have learnt both languages from an early age on.

Oliver: As someone who has experienced and continues to experience different cultures, I enjoy many things. From the obvious things such as knowing different cuisines by heart (Lebanese food is fantastic, but so is Bavarian and even British food 😉) to understanding that different cultures have different preferences when it comes to communication (indirect vs. direct), family values, and so on. All of this enriches my life and interactions. I think I'm sensitive to the differences between people and how everything is relative depending on where you come from. One book that has helped me understand these differences is "The Culture Map" by Erin Meyer. She describes this phenomenon very well.

Different cultural backgrounds enrich diversity and often a wide range of values, mindsets, ideas and much more. What do you think are positive effects on your team, collaboration and performance?
Cahide: By growing up in two very different cultures, I have developed a great capacity for empathy. Empathy is an important skill that increases retention, drives innovation, and supports team members’ wellbeing.

Donika: Diverse cultures bring value. Each culture has its own strengths. The fact that our cultures are so different makes collaborations ideal as we can bring our strengths together and learn from one another. This fosters innovation in the best possible way!

Oliver: It’s a bit cliché but I know it is very true: diverse people come up with diverse ideas and thus diverse solutions to problems. I am very happy to be working in a project team that has a nice mix of different backgrounds and ideas. It’s fun and very productive.

Do you all raise awareness or even advocate for cultural diversity at Deloitte and if so, to what extent?
Cahide: I only recently decided to put on the headscarf for religious reasons. Wearing a hijab automatically stands for diversity, not necessarily in a cultural context, but in a religious one. At this point, I think it is important to mention that my decision was mainly influenced by the fact that diversity in all its forms is part of Deloitte. I knew that the piece of cloth on my head would not be an obstacle to pursuing my passion in cyber.

Donika: It is clear to see that our team is as diverse as it can be: from a rising number of women to people of color and to various age ranges. Our team has an initiative called "Cyber ALL IN" that works hard to promote and celebrate this diversity and to foster an inclusive work environment for ALL members of the cyber team. The initiative provides mentoring programs for women, inclusive cooking events, and acts as a contact point for questions. We, together in on our team, can make a real difference and foster a more diverse world, while enhancing our cyber culture and inspiring each other.

Oliver: Yes, I do. I think we need to increase diversity within our team. Let’s look at women in cyber, for instance. Our ratio doesn't reflect the 50% that women make up in our society. I believe, and the research backs this up very clearly, that we need more diversity, including women and people from different cultural backgrounds on our leadership team. This would combat the proximity bias and would be a powerful symbol and role model for young women and cultural minorities. We all need to feel represented at the top. And we all want to feel understood by people who have similar backgrounds. Therefore, I try to coach and connect people to others who have similar backgrounds and to recruit people from different backgrounds to join our amazing team.

How do you bring your culture closer to your colleagues so that they can get to know it better and maybe be inspired?
Cahide: To be honest, this usually happens quite spontaneously in the course of everyday work. For example, our team recently decided to eat together in an authentic Turkish restaurant. It was my pleasure to make a reservation at my favorite place and show my colleagues my favorite foods. 😊

Donika: A pleasant way to bring cultures closer together is to talk about food. Food is something that connects us all and that often comes up in casual situations like during lunch breaks with colleagues. I often talk about how an Albanian national dish called “flia” is made by baking crêpe-like layers of batter with a spherical metal lid called “saq”. It is put on an open fire pit to heat up, and then placed above each layer – an elaborate effort, but worth every second. Another humorous way to bring cultures closer together is to share idioms. This can also happen in certain work situations. From time to time, I translate their meaning and may or may not confuse German and Albanian idioms. This also allows to learn something about other cultures and brings us closer together in a chucklesome way.

Oliver: I live in Berlin where we have a big Arabic and Lebanese community. So, my cultural background is nothing too special in this case. The Arabic language has already made it into the slang of our young colleagues who I spend a lot of time with. Words like “Inshallah, Wallah or Habibi” are not uncommon within my office when joking around. It is a fun way to get in touch with the culture. And from time to time, it leads to more serious discussions because people are curious and want to know more about Lebanon.

Donika, you have Albanian roots but grew up in Germany. Are there any skills that you would attribute to the influences you experienced growing up?
Donika: As I mentioned before, I see myself as a mediator between different cultures. Since I grew up with two cultures, I always had to switch between them. I always have two points of view. For example, Germans are said to be punctual and reliable, while Albanians are said to use a lot of gestures and mimics. Of course, these are stereotypes, but either way: I try to get the best out of each culture and combine them in the most useful way possible. I am always happy to add further skills.

Cahide, you also grew up in Germany but have Turkish roots. How do you combine these two cultures in your daily life?
Cahide: Like Donika, I also try to combine the best of both worlds. I am efficient, but temperamental. For lunch I eat Käsespätzle and for dinner I have a delicious traditional Turkish lentil soup. Saturdays are spent visiting extended family, but Sundays are spent relaxing, after all it's a “Ruhetag”.

Oliver, you grew up ineven more than two cultures. How does that help you to successfully work in an international team like the Deloitte cyber team?
Oliver: I understand different worlds and have picked out my favorite traits from each culture. For example, I am very punctual and get straight to the point – both traits would be considered as typically German. However, I also aspire to be warm and generous – traits that are closer to Lebanese culture. I think that mixing up cultures like this helps with social interactions.

Despite or even because of different cultural backgrounds within your cyber team, there is one thing that unites you all: your passion for cyber topics! In what way does this passion express itself in you?
Cahide: I guess it expresses in me noticing that time is seeming to pass so quickly. When you pursue a passion, you do not notice how fast time goes by because you’re so engaged with the topics you’re working on.

Donika: Especially as a woman who works in a predominantly STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) environment, I would like to motivate other people to put out their feelers in this area. Especially in private life, you realize how important it is to protect your data. You hear about cyber issues in the news all the time, often in connection with hacking and sensitive information. While working in our cyber practice, I have the chance to dive in deep into cyber related topics and gain knowledge on this rapidly increasing and important field. It is a great opportunity to be part of the spectrum of issues that are trying to make the world a safer place. A diverse team like Deloitte continues to show that this is what drives innovation. I'm excited to see what the future holds, but one thing is for sure: cyber will remain a big part of it!

Oliver: What I enjoy most is working with the people in the cyber area. I've met a lot of great people - at Deloitte as well as at our clients. It's just a lot of fun to work with them on very trendy topics.

We are happy to share a lot more inspiring stories of our colleagues about the diversity in Deloitte’s cyber team with you – check it out!

Furthermore, you’re very welcome to get to know more about your career opportunities in the cyber team and to learn more about our cyber services.

Become part of Deloitte’s cyber team!

With just one click to all open positions. 

Your talent team

We will be happy to help you

Sven Schulz

Sven Schulz

Employer Branding Manager

Sven ist seit 2018 im Team Employer Branding & Personalmarketing bei Deloitte Deutschland tätig. Dort verantwortet er unter anderem Employer Branding Kampagnen mit Fokus auf berufserfahrene Talente.  Im Deloitte Karriere Blog berichtet Sven über aktuelle Karrierethemen und relevante Business Entwicklungen, die Karrieremöglichkeiten für die unterschiedlichsten Profile bereithalten.

Jennifer Koschel

Jennifer Koschel

Associate Manager | Employer Branding

Jennifer ist seit 2019 Teil des Teams Employer Branding & Talent Attraction von Deloitte in Deutschland. Sie verantwortet nicht nur den Karriere-Blog, sondern auch Employer Branding-Kampagnen für verschiedene Businesses und Zielgruppen.