Walking through Interra’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia on any given day, you are very likely to hear at least five languages, and maybe as many as fourteen. In the break room, you’ll hear them too—people converse in whatever language they feel comfortable with. We talk to customers, suppliers, and others all over the world, often in their own language, but more importantly, familiar with their culture. The Golden Rule is a great place to start but “Treat others as you want to be treated” reaches its limit when you find you must actually treat a person the way that person wants to be treated! An easy example: perhaps I don’t mind when someone calls me by my first name, but that doesn’t mean everyone takes informality as friendliness. At Interra we adapt ourselves to work with different people and don’t expect the world to conform to American ways of communicating. Our people, conversant in different cultures, help “translate” the language and/or needs of our partners to find the best solutions.
The contributions of each employee—from 25 countries at last count—all come together in the Interra culture. We hire people who fit into our Interra values – Insisting on Integrity, Promoting the Family, Striving for Excellence, and Fostering Cooperation – no matter where they’re from. We promote people based on merit and we consider the success of one of us to be success for all of us.
Anyone in this business can tell you that there are problems every day. But we’re great at solving them and each person comes to the table with different experiences and ideas. We welcome a fresh perspective and are always looking for innovation.
Are there misunderstandings at times? Of course. Sometimes you think you know what someone meant but you get it wrong. It takes patience, curiosity, and understanding. It means effort from everyone, both assuming the good intentions of each other and apologizing when you cause offense, even if unintentional. Most importantly, it starts with appreciating the specialness of each person. Everyone at Interra is considered part of “the family”.
We also have the most amazing potlucks, where everyone brings a dish that reminds them of their home. When you experience the sights and smells of dishes from all over the world, you realize the true value of taking the best of all worlds!