{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Will the inability to speak the local language fluently in a country like Germany or Japan definitely impact utilization negatively below manager level?", "post_id": "5f2e40612692bd001cd14802", "reply_count": 32, "vote_count": 5, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting" }

Will the inability to speak the local language fluently in a country like Germany or Japan definitely impact utilization negatively below manager level?

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For Germany: Below Manager Lvl and with Deloitte it can be a real obstacle. If you do tech stuff for instance you’d swim in the pool with remote working resources form India (which are way cheaper than you). Generally speaking, the more senior you get the less important are German language skills. Source: German

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Would be an adventure. Depends on your current situation whether that’s an exciting risk or a dead-end. Plus if you have decent language-learning ability (learned another language, musical listening talent...). Japan also beginning to open up more for immigration. If someone wants to hire you there and knows what they’re doing, could be fun.

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In German it will be Hard without German - source: German

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There are language learning hacks. Its possible but took 2-3 hrs / day of effort

My very light experience would say Germans all seem to speak great English, but I wouldn’t expect the same in Japan.

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Out of advanced non-English speaking countries, Germany seems to have the highest level of English speaking and Japan the lowest based on my moderate travels in Europe and Asia.

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Also, of the “advanced non-English speaking country” with the most frequent/fluent speakers, Netherlands is ahead of Germany.

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I’d say Japan is extremely hard, if not impossible. Germany will be easier, but on average also hard. While everyone in your firm will speak English, as most senior clients, there may be plenty of operational folk at the client who are not fully fluent, or they may keep their docs in German. Also it kind of sucks if in a meeting with 10 folk they all need to switch to a language they are less conversant in because of 1 who doesn’t understand it, and that 1 isn’t the boss but a junior external consultant ... Your chances greatly increase if a partner is supporting you, and who has a client where they know it’s ok to run the whole affair in English

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Source: Stupid Me - Currently a Senior Manager Expat in Netherlands Don’t do it. It’s a small adventure, but you have an option to pick up a hard skill vs German or Dutch or Japanese or Spanish. I personally prioritize hard skills. Also, regardless of how much Dutch I picked up (regardless of what BCG1 said, I am personally currently at B1 level), it’s insanely hard to actually pull it off on an engagement. On my last M&A engagement, they dumped me with 600+ documents and companies don’t allow you to translate using a public cloud service (Google translate, deepL). Plus tables, diagrams don’t work. Translation is a nightmarish effort plus the spoken speed is a bit much to be able to handle during interviews. TLDR: it will take you at least 1-2 years before you can fully handle business level communication and lead engagements singlehandedly. I now act purely as SME on Dutch engagements. I can no longer lead them. That means at least 60% of the portfolio is closed off for you

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Actually, it has been the opposite. Consultants / Seniors constantly are under-utilized. In K, expat staff utilization in my practice is at 28% as of last week vs group at 62%. We have formed action committees to address some of these areas. As a Senior Manager, I have deep subject matter expertise which forces Partners to use me. Some openly don’t like using me, but I am the only one in the firm with that skillset and they are forced to. Personally, I am looking to get the hell out of here back to the US, but Covid caused me some hiccups plus I don’t know if US has spots for me now

Both countries require local language fluency for consulants typically, just because clients expect it - unless you have a skillset difficult to source

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Also you have a better proposition if you bring a knowledge or skill that is in demand and that may be short in the local staffing pool

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Thank you for all the answers so far. I might have a chance to be based in Tokyo full-time but frankly I'm afraid of low utilization (no relevant language skills whatsoever, no technical background). 100% committed to learn the language but reaching proficiency is likely to take 3-4 years I feel. Not sure if it's worth the risk.

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D3, do you see any benefit of becoming more proficient in the language over time (but not reaching business level) in terms of staffing opportunities or will the chances of working with Japanese clients always be equally low until you speak business level?

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