24 February 2023

Learnlight Success Stories: Yuri Kurta On Culture Immersion & Learning Mandarin

As we celebrate the last 15 years of Learnlight, we’re reflecting on some of our clients’ biggest wins. Big wins don’t necessarily need to mean a language mastered or fluency achieved. To us, it means making step-by-step progress, pushing yourself, and flexing those language skills at every opportunity you’re given. And we think Yuri Kurta is a perfect example of that. 

We recently sat down with Yuri, who’s the Commercial Tower Lead at Imperial Brands. He’s been with the company for 22 years, and currently is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.  

Yuri is no stranger to living abroad. He began his journey with Imperial working in his native Ukraine for nine years. From there, he moved on to servicing other markets in various countries around the world. 

“It has been an exciting journey for me as I worked in Marketing, Sales and Group Brand Marketing functions, lived in five countries and managed 11 markets,” said Yuri. “It also gave me a great opportunity to work with absolutely fantastic teams and to experience different cultures.” 

As part of his role in Taiwan, Yuri leverages the Learnlight Mandarin Chinese program to possess a firm grasp of the language. But he’s not doing it alone; his family, who moved with him to Taiwan, are also learning Mandarin through Learnlight. 

Yuri said that learning Mandarin is a golden opportunity to immerse himself in Taiwanese culture. 

“It is a very rich culture with lots of nuances and unwritten rules, which I believe are reflected in the language,” he said. “Better understanding of the language helps to better understand those cultural nuances and provides a higher chance to have more engaging communication, both at and outside of work.” 

Learning the language, however, has proven a considerable healthy challenge. 

Learnlight Helps Talent Achieve Their Language Learning Goals  

“Honestly, I imagined how difficult the Mandarin language could be to learn to speak – and not to mention to write,” he told us. “My primary goal was to learn some basic spoken Mandarin in order to be able to navigate through my daily life situations in Taiwan. I also wanted to make my communication with my potential contacts in Taiwan more personal, inviting, and warm using phrases in the local language.” 

Reaching that goal, he said, has been a steady work in progress. But without Learnlight, Yuri said he wouldn’t be meeting milestones quite at the pace he is now. 

The supportive environment and structure of the program, he noted, have helped him make more progress than he’d initially expected. “I can always go back to my earlier lessons and to review what I learnt or what mistakes I made,” he said. Yuri added that Learnlight is a safe environment to make those mistakes and that the program’s cultural insights helped him better understand the local culture and people’s behaviors. 

Language Skills: Great For In & Outside Of The Office 

Given the diversity of the groups he collaborates with in his current role, the common language spoken is English. But in his previous roles, speaking Mandarin helped him break the ice multiple times while engaging with his team members – and even with total strangers on the street. 

“I managed to surprise them a couple of times when I suddenly threw in some phrases in Mandarin, which always was very welcomed and appreciated,” he said.  

“My personal experience with Learnlight has been positive,” he added. “It keeps my hope alive that I can and will speak better Mandarin!” 

Further reading

Learnlight Success Stories: Laura Monge On Being Empowered To Lead International Teams

Introducing: The Learnlight Success Stories Series

Learnlight Success Stories: Borja González On Building Language Confidence With Learnlight

About Learnlight 

Learnlight is an EdTech company that helps Global Mobility Specialists reduce the risk of assignment failure through language, intercultural, and communication skills training for assignees and their families. 

Having worked with some of the leading relocation companies from around the world, our award-winning platform allows assignees to learn whenever and wherever they want through purely digital, traditional face-to-face, live-virtual, or truly blended programs – depending on their needs. 

To find out more about Learnlight and our solutions, request a demo today. 

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