June 12, 2014   //   International   //   By Alex Krog

My continued quest to take over the world thru the media just got a boost!!  My giant head (getting bigger by the day, did you see how big it was in the last post?) is in a picture on the cover of the current CPAmerica International bulletin that goes to CPAmerica International firms from the German-American Summit that we had in April.  I’d like to thank my parents for making me so handsome and for giving me the capability to somehow have three different colors in my beard.

The dozens (and dozens!) of my loyal readers have demanded that I continue to write about different topics as I continue my stay here in Germany.  Since I have received exactly one question to write about, I will skip the mailbag and maybe comeback with a mailbag before I leave to go back home.  Send your questions here (akrog@muellercpa.com), I promise not to spam you back!

I will have a lot to write about my last month here (I’ve been here for two months already?!?!) because of that biggest soccer tournament in the world (I don’t know if I can call it by its real name.  Nobody can call that big football game by its real name because of trademarking, so it’s easier to avoid it…) but feel free to ask me anything!

Anyway, on to that one question.

This question came from our Marketing Director, my fantastic translator who takes whatever I type and somehow makes it into a coherent thought, Mary Augustine.  She asked:  What are some of the differences between work habits, processes, and office set up (among other things) between where I am working (Kleeberg) in Germany and where I will be forced to go back to in a month (please note, this was not a direct quote of her question)?

I actually had to think about this for a little while because a month ago this would’ve been easier to answer than it is now as I have become accustomed to things here.  The biggest thing that sticks out to me is the amount of paper they use.  Mueller claims to be a ‘paperless office’ which is true as far as we keep all of our files electronically and not in folders.  They keep everything in paper form in these giant binders.  I’ve written more the last two months than I have in the last four years prior to coming to Germany.  When we went to a client this past week, we brought a box with us that had 10 binders, a printer, paper, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  This was in addition to our computers that were packed separately.  This box we brought was bigger than the luggage that I brought over here for three months.

They get more days off here.  Like, a lot more.  First, they all get 28 days vacation and they also have 15 more days in holidays.  (The more I think about it, why am I coming back to America?)

Everyone is encouraged to leave early on Friday to enjoy their weekend.  I have told them about our busy season from the end of January thru April 15th where we work an average of 55-60 hours and work Saturdays, and their eyes almost pop out of their head.

I believe processes are relatively the same, as I have not gotten very involved in that.

Office set up is considerably different from our office as everyone has their own room (some have two or three in a room depending on the size).  We have an open layout, where you can hear pretty much every conversation occurring in your department if you’d like to listen in.  In America, doors are pretty much open. If an office door is closed the only way you open that door to say something is if the building is on fire.  In Germany it is very normal for the door to be closed and you just knock.  It seems like there is more talking in the German office than there is in ours, as well.

As for some quick hitting random pop culture…

  • Handball is a nationally followed sport over here.
  •  Here is one of the top songs in the country right now (it’s in English): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiqAiWGdZGA
  • Helene Fischer is probably their most famous singer.
  • You don’t realize how fat America is until you come to Europe. Don’t worry; I’m representing our roundness well!
  • There aren’t a lot of buildings with air conditioning.  It was 90 degrees the other day.  This could explain why everyone is so skinny.  They have continuous sweat going.

Biggest Thing I Am Missing

One of my best friends from college, Kellen Kafka, is getting married this weekend to his pretty awesome soon to be wife Brooke Brandenburg.  I was asked to be an usher at his wedding and had to decline due to me being here in Germany.  I wish nothing but the best for you two and I hope and look forward to a lifetime of happiness (Glück) for both of you.  I can’t wait to be in your position someday.

Unfortunately, now I have to buy them a better gift.

Enjoy the soccer!

Alex Krog, CPA is an Audit Associate and participant in Mueller’s Global Employee Exchange Program.