Japanese Case Study: Language training for EDF Trading


Japanese Case Study: Cactus was approached by energy giant EDF Trading to develop a linguistic and cultural training programme for employees relocating to Japan, alongside multi-lingual training for its European traders.

1. The Client

EDF Trading (EDFT) is a major broker in energy trading and has been active in the international wholesale markets since 1999. The company buys and sells electricity, emissions, gas, coal, freight, biomass and oil.

2. The Challenge

  • Dealing in the international energy and money markets, EDFT has complex and ever-changing business language training needs. Its operations span a variety of different countries and employees need to negotiate deals in other languages, as well as understand cultural differences that impact the business.
  • EDFT requires a number of its senior employees to speak and understand Japanese to help progress major energy deals with companies based in Nagoya. Several members of staff have been relocated to Japan and have needed both Japanese lessons and cultural training to prepare them for their new roles.
  • In addition, EDFT’s European traders have required in-company classes in a number of languages to help them in negotiating deals on the company’s trading desks. English training has also been particularly important to bond multicultural teams together.

3. The Solution

By conducting a detailed needs analysis of EDFT’s language skills, Cactus was able to devise tailor-made solutions to tackle the company’s broad training needs. For the employees moving to Nagoya, Cactus developed a special course to help them adapt to relocation and their new social surroundings. The focus was placed on learning conversational techniques and general business etiquette to smooth working relationships.

For its traders, Cactus designed one-to-one language training sessions in German, Russian, French, English and Spanish to help them conduct deals confidently with their European counterparts. Vocabulary was specifically tailored in each language to real-life trading situations, enabling employees to get to grips with speaking and being easily understood. Lessons all took place in EDFT’s London offices.

4. The Outcome

Cactus has provided inspiring and enjoyable business language training which has had dramatic benefits. We have been able to develop major new contracts with Japanese energy companies and continue to build valuable relationships. Our traders are also confident that they can communicate in a number of languages. It’s proved to be invaluable.

Rebecca French, Head of HR at EDFT

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