When distance and age are just numbers: the story of Orlin & Bruno

Spanning over 8,000 kilometers and bridging a gap of 30 years in age, here lies the proof that the finest ideas spring from diverse backgrounds. This is the essence of innovation, where distance and time are mere numbers. Meet Bruno Fernandez and Orlin Saradjov.

When distance and age are just numbers: the story of Orlin & Bruno

Orlin Saradjov joined Melexis in 2000 and works in Sofia as an Advanced Customer Solutions Manager. His – 34 years younger – colleague Bruno Fernandez has been with Melexis since 2014 and serves as a Senior Engineer in Advanced Customer Solutions in our Shanghai offices. Despite being from a different generation and working in separate locations, the two have collaborated closely since 2018 and have built a strong relationship both personally and professionally.

Orlin Saradjov - Melexis

Being part of a worldwide team, what do you like the most?

Orlin says with full enthusiasm: “At Melexis, the needs of customers in each international market are different. Understanding those needs and bridging cultural differences is crucial. Innovation isn't merely about creating new solutions; it's also about effective implementation. In this way, I get the chance to contribute to a diverse range of innovations within the semiconductor industry worldwide."

Bruno, who initially started his career at Melexis in Sofia but now works from our site in Shanghai, nods in agreement: "It's truly a unique opportunity to work for the same company from different locations. It's fascinating to experience the differences in culture and observe how we learn from each other to achieve the best results.”

How does Melexis encourage diversity and intercultural exchange?

For Orlin, who has witnessed Melexis' globalization up close, diversity and cultural exchange are inherent. "As we expanded globally over the years, our focus on cultural diversity naturally intensified, encouraged by our management. This is sometimes reflected in small things, such as avoiding scheduling meetings on Friday mornings in Indonesia to accommodate colleagues' morning prayers."

Bruno underscores the importance of respecting and valuing each other’s differences: "When I applied to Melexis, I was evaluated on my level of openness. Being receptive to new ideas, different perspectives, and intercultural collaboration are significant aspects here. These aspects particularly appealed to me when I joined the Fresh Graduate Program after completing my studies."

What’s the benefit of working in a diverse team?

Bruno Fernandez - Melexis

According to Orlin, optimal outcomes often result from blending different perspectives. “We encounter a constant influx of knowledge, viewpoints, and focus elements from different countries. This forces us to continuously learn. However, geographical diversity is not the only one to add to a more complete perspective; age also plays a role.’

"Generationally, I notice differences in our approaches between Bruno and myself. Coming from different generations, I tend to have a more theoretical approach to work, whereas Bruno embraces a more modern mindset, often more to the point", Orlin admits with a laugh.

At a cultural level, Bruno also experienced an eye-opener when he started working in Shanghai. "A nice practical example is how my Japanese colleagues inspect objects for defects, such as scratches or blemishes. In situations where errors or imperfections are often subjectively judged, the Japanese apply a highly objective approach. They suggest: that if in doubt, inspect from a distance of 30 cm with the naked eye. Subsequently, if a potentially defective area is identified, move the object to a distance of 60 cm. If the defect becomes imperceptible, it's deemed acceptable. It’s so pragmatic!"

How does diversity contribute to the innovation process at Melexis?

Orlin proudly explains: "As we've expanded globally as a company, we've gained a mix of viewpoints. For example, in Europe, we're keen on safety and quality, whereas in China, the initial focus tends to be on cost-effective solutions. It's not like quality takes a backseat there; it's just a different angle. Bringing these different perspectives together helps us meet the needs of diverse markets. Typically, the process goes: learning, generalizing, problem-solving."

And what’s making it more difficult?

Bruno adds that diversity presents challenges, particularly in communication. "Even though we mostly communicate in English at Melexis, misunderstandings can still arise within this 'universal language' due to word nuances. For example, while the English language offers various words to explain certain processes, other languages are more limited in vocabulary. This results in colleagues who are not native English using terms as synonyms where they actually slightly differ. To deal with that, we employ general rules and assembly guidelines, but it still happens sometimes and that leads to funny situations", Bruno grins.

How does diversity contribute to our company culture?

Orlin: "Having been with Melexis for 24 years, I've witnessed significant strides in bridging cultural differences. As the company has grown over the years, it’s important to stay on our feet and encourage autonomy, entrepreneurship, and fast decision-making. Fortunately, at Melexis, we encourage a culture of 'trial and error,' allowing colleagues the freedom to experiment and innovate."

Bruno nodes: "Our entrepreneurial spirit is what sets us apart. With passionate engineers and technicians all over the globe, we're great at spotting opportunities, even if it means going off the usual track. I'm sure it's because we're open to different viewpoints and we really support each other's talents.”

In those 6 years of working together, what lesson have you learned from one another?

Bruno starts laughing: "One lesson I've learned from Orlin is to never make assumptions and to base actions and decisions on facts. When I started my career after graduation, there was much to learn. Orlin taught me a lot, and I’m still learning from him. He keeps me sharp when I overlook details."

Orlin also learns a lot from his younger colleague. He concludes: "My motto is 'never stop learning,' and Bruno often reminds me of that. Being from a younger generation, he offers a fresh, innovative perspective on matters. Regardless of one's level of experience, it's crucial to remain open to new ideas. To my belief, this open mindset is the essence of successful innovation.”