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Old 18.05.2011, 16:36
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corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

Hi,

I am IT Software Professional willing to move from the UK to Switzerland.

Can you please tell me

1) if I can survive in Swiss IT Companies only with English?
2) How difficult is it to get-on in Switzerland without German/French/Italian knowledge
3) In what language the e-mails are written in IT companies?
4) In what language the IT project documents such as Requirements Document, Design Document are written?
5) What language is spoken in weekly team-meetings?
6) What language is spoken on Conference calls over the phones?


thanks
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  #2  
Old 18.05.2011, 16:40
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

1) if I can survive in Swiss IT Companies only with English?

Generally speaking No. Banks are an exception.

2) How difficult is it to get-on in Switzerland without German/French/Italian knowledge

In Zurich, quite easy. Making an effort to learn and speak makes things a lot easier.

3) In what language the e-mails are written in IT companies?

English is the business language of Banks. German emails are just as common.

4) In what language the IT project documents such as Requirements Document, Design Document are written?

Different from company to company. Banks are English, but all official languages are acceptable.

5) What language is spoken in weekly team-meetings?

Depends on the sector. Most likely German and English, even Swiss German.

6) What language is spoken on Conference calls over the phones?

See (5)


Dive in and learn German. Whether required or not. You will earn respect and stand out against your peers that refuse/can't/won't.
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  #3  
Old 18.05.2011, 18:38
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

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Dive in and learn German. Whether required or not. You will earn respect and stand out against your peers that refuse/can't/won't.
Though perhaps French might be more useful in Geneva or Lausanne...

English is spoken and is usually the written language of any of the multinationals - not just banks. You'll get by in English in most cities.
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Old 19.05.2011, 12:45
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

Generally if the job description calls for mandatory German then it must mean communication is German. I know for sure some swiss IT companies clearly specify in the job listing that their official language is german and ask you not to apply if you do not know German. Otherwise English is more than enough for the IT industry esp in the banks and other huge corporates.
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Old 19.05.2011, 13:21
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

Just a little personal side note on Up's list:

Though you might find a job as English speaking in a bank in Zürich, the common language can be German/ Swiss German.

A personal example: the company can refuse to speak anything else but Swiss German in a meeting, to complete disregard of English or German speakers with no Swiss German knowledge. Official emails are usually written in German, but emails directed to an English speaker might be in English, as a friendly colleague act.

It depends mostly on the company you are working for. You need to check the contract and the company expectations to avoid complications. In any case, most of the Americans working in the IT department of the specific bank I am talking about have learned German out of respect to their colleagues and it helped A LOT at work. Those who didn't, ended up ostracized.

If you are moving to a country which has a different official language, it’s not only polite but also very useful to make the effort of learning it, even if it is something difficult and horrendous (like German).

Last edited by Helm; 19.05.2011 at 13:55.
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Old 22.05.2011, 09:32
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

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Hi,

I am IT Software Professional willing to move from the UK to Switzerland.

Can you please tell me

1) if I can survive in Swiss IT Companies only with English?
2) How difficult is it to get-on in Switzerland without German/French/Italian knowledge
3) In what language the e-mails are written in IT companies?
4) In what language the IT project documents such as Requirements Document, Design Document are written?
5) What language is spoken in weekly team-meetings?
6) What language is spoken on Conference calls over the phones?


thanks
General rule of thumb...
1. Depends on their size and business area (e.g. international, I bet for e.g. IBM, Google and Microsoft, English is the defined business language)
2. No problem, once again depends on the company
3. See 1 (even though it's not that hard to translate today, and you may even learn a little)
4. See 1
5. Normally in a global company, they Swiss always ask 1. do you understand German? 2. you understand dialect?....they are quite flexible...(my experience)
6. See 5

If you do not speak any German I would highly suggest to start in a bigger international company, but I would very quickly dig into the wonderful world of the German language...you will miss a lot if you don't...
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Old 22.05.2011, 09:44
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

I only have one aquaintance in IT, and I've heard from him that people with English and German will be prefered even if there is not absolute need for German for the job. It's just because even if the official language is English, people remain German speaking and don't give up their language if they don't have to. However, there isn't enough bilingual candidates for everybody, so English only is second choices they have to make. I guess all that is irrelevant if the company allready has a large majority of English speakers, then, even small talk will be English.

Feel free to prove him wrong, I am just reporting. I can just say that when I have a IT problem I ask my questions in German.
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Old 24.05.2011, 12:15
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

english very difficult in swiss based IT company, german is always welcomed. But if you work for non-swiss IT company(IBM,accenture,others) then you can survive with english and very less compulsion in speaking german. you must also be aware of the fact that, swiss IT companies have really really small headcounts, they bank on specific customer and dont try much to expand business outside swiss(exceptions are there),,,
--best of luck in finding the best place to work...
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Old 24.05.2011, 12:43
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

I've moved this from Introductions as it really doesn't say much about the OP but gives info which might be useful to others looking for employment in the same field here.
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Old 24.05.2011, 13:04
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

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1) if I can survive in Swiss IT Companies only with English?
Yes. I work at a midsized and internationally oriented Swiss software house. While I speak German do I have plenty of colleagues who don't and get along perfectly. Only the higher management and customer facing roles have to speak German.

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2) How difficult is it to get-on in Switzerland without German/French/Italian knowledge
Easier than in France, worse than in the Netherlands...

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4) In what language the IT project documents such as Requirements Document, Design Document are written?
It doesn't matter, the code monkeys don't read it anyway. I usually try to draw pictures instead... I put some Rumantsch in the middle of my last requirements spec. Nobody found it.

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5) What language is spoken in weekly team-meetings?
6) What language is spoken on Conference calls over the phones?
Depends on who is in the meeting/on the phone.
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Old 24.05.2011, 13:18
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

I agree with what several others have said here - if you target the Swiss offices of international IT companies, you will be able to get by in English.

I worked for 13 years in an American software company in Neuchâtel and, although I already spoke French before I arrived here, many of my American/Irish/Italian/Czech/Indian/Spanish colleagues did not. All meetings, conference calls and emails were in English, as were the majority of informal coffee-machine conversations. With so many nationalities working together, English tends to take over...

In terms of general integration, I know a few people who have been here for five years or more and do not speak French beyond the minimum necessary to manage in shops and so on. They get by perfectly well, but I think it's a shame to live in a country and not learn the language, unless you know that it's going to be short term and you want to live exclusively in expat circles.
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Old 24.05.2011, 13:35
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

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Depends on who is in the meeting/on the phone.
The joke* in my previous company was;

8 French people in a meeting all speaking French
2 Swiss/Germans join. Everyone switches to German.
1 UK/US person joins. Everyone switches to English.




*I say joke. It was usually told in a bitter, meaningful way. But what the hell. I found it funny.
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Old 24.05.2011, 13:46
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Re: corporate Language in Swiss IT Companies

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The joke* in my previous company was;

8 French people in a meeting all speaking French
2 Swiss/Germans join. Everyone switches to German.
1 UK/US person joins. Everyone switches to English.




*I say joke. It was usually told in a bitter, meaningful way. But what the hell. I found it funny.

I am that english person

I work in Zurich, worked for a one of the main banks before and everything, EVERYTHING was in english

Now work for a largish SWISS company and everything again is in english, in all the time I have been here there has only been 1 meeting in german and that was because the external guy doing the presentation couldn't speak english.
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