Many cultures, one company: Linde Global Services

Linde Global Services (LGS) is the shared services organisation of The Linde Group. From finance and procurement to customer support and data management, the services provided by these international hubs are essential to the daily running of the company. With centres in Romania, the Philippines and other locations around the world – not to mention a central team in Germany – they mean it when they say global. We spoke to representatives from three of the offices to learn more.

The office that never sleeps – Manila, Philippines

Lawrence “Lucky” Toledo has been working for Linde for 15 years. He has a background in engineering as well as extensive experience in sales, marketing and customer service. Today, he heads up the LGS team responsible for Order-to-Cash North America – the first region outside of Asia to be migrated to the centre in Manila. 

A “typical day” for Lucky and his team should probably be called a “typical night”. With the East Coast of the United States exactly 12 hours behind the Philippines, they arrive in the office at 9pm. And yet, they are not alone. As Lucky explains, Manila is home to service hubs for companies around the world, meaning such shifts are the norm. Throughout the night, lights flicker in buildings across the city, while nearby restaurants stay open for “lunch”. From 4am, the South Pacific department starts to arrive.  

Lucky’s team of 23 primarily manages the Order-to-Cash process – aka the steps involved in purchasing Linde gases, from order management, billing and asset management, through to collections and payment application. Asking which qualities he looks for when recruiting, he says it varies according to key responsibilities. For customer-facing roles (order to credit), soft skills are essential, whereas financial management positions (credit to cash) require accuracy and a strong attention to detail.  

“Our centre is very international,” he explains, “we have around 15 different nationalities working here.” The modern industrial-style office space – a real highlight for many employees – is designed to promote an open culture and communication, with a large shared balcony, a common kitchen area and no individual cubicles around desks. There are also regular events and parties to bring all the staff (around 420 people) together – in just one time zone!

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Lucky Toledo from LGS Manila
The new LGS office in Manila

A melting pot of cultures – Timisoara, Romania

The centre in Timisoara takes care of customers and processes in Russia, Turkey and much of Europe – employing over 170 people in total. Petros Terzis leads the team responsible for Greece. With approximately 18,000 active customers in the county, they certainly have their work cut out: on average the team responds to almost 100 calls a day and processes 7,500 invoices a month. 

Petros is half-Romanian, half-Greek, meaning the role perfectly fits his background. “Our whole office is a mix of nations – all working side by side,” he describes, “you learn a lot about different people and different cultures.” Describing Timisoara as a “mini Vienna”, he says the city provides a perfect location for the primarily young staff, offering a good nightlife and many opportunities to travel.

For Petros, strong interpersonal skills are essential for a job at LGS in Romania. He says these are often harder to teach than the necessary knowledge of computer programs and systems. “We always deal directly with customers,” he says, “they know our names, they know us and, most importantly, they trust us.” The importance of this familiarity was particularly evident during the Greek Financial Crisis: “Dealing with people who were having trouble paying their bills required a new approach,” he explains, “it called for greater understanding and sensitivity.” 

Having started out as an operator, Petros is now an operations manager. “There are many possibilities to develop skills and advance your career here,” he tells us. He is currently enrolled in the Future Manager Programme, for example, a modular course (offered globally within Linde) that helps young leaders take on greater responsibility. “I always look forward to going to work. I know I have something to offer and know my voice will be heard – I feel I can help the centre grow.”

Petros Terzis from LGS Timisoara
Monika Purrucker from the LGS team in Germany

The mothership – Munich, Germany

The central node of the global services network is the office in Munich – also home to Linde’s headquarters. Monika Purrucker has been working for Linde for 12 years and specifically for LGS since 2013. Initially involved in the transition of services from individual countries to the global hubs, today she is part of a team working with one of LGS’s exciting new service offerings: Robotic Process Automation (RPA). 

“We are constantly looking for ways to optimise, harmonise and standardise processes,” she explains. The team is keen to leverage the potential of automation to bring new efficiencies and greater accuracy to areas where there is a high repetitiveness of tasks. “We have developers building software robots to assist with transactional and other frequently recurring tasks – and are gaining more and more experience of RPA,” she says. “My role is to offer our approach and expertise to all Linde organisations outside of LGS, leveraging the learnings from our own centres.”

LGS first explored RPA opportunities internally and soon found that freeing up resources from internal processes doesn’t only boost efficiency; it also allows staff to focus on more complex queries and tasks that require greater human interaction. Now, under Monika’s leadership, LGS is helping internal customers to take their first steps with process automation.  

There is a constant drive to be better that keeps the German team on its toes. “The job requires an ability to work flexibly and keep multiple balls in the air at one time,” Monika explains. Strong project management skills and knowledge of Linde processes are also an asset, not to mention – even though it probably goes without saying – international experience.

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