Making their move
For each of the “Zühlkees”, the impetus to move came from a slightly different place. For Abbie Ng, a recruiter now based in Hamburg, the excitement of living in new places is a drive in and of itself. She’s from the UK originally, and spent some time in our Hong Kong office but knew she wasn’t quite ready to head home, so she moved to Germany after learning of an opportunity there. “I love travelling – I hadn’t visited Germany before I decided to take the plunge and relocate – it seemed like an interesting next step,” she says.
For Milos Andrejic, a Staffing Lead for UK markets, the decision to move to London from Serbia was all about opportunity, both in his career and for his family. Vladimir Radzivil, a Principal Consultant, comes at it from yet another angle: He loves to be a part of building new teams and moving from the UK to Singapore first, and then on to set up our new office in Vietnam gave him the chance to do just that.
Managing the transition
There are any number of hurdles to overcome in setting yourself up in another country, whether it’s short or long term. Bureaucracy comes up as a big bugbear, for one. But logistical hiccups aside, integrating into a new professional community and social scene can also be difficult. All three say that it’s been worth the effort, however. “This hasn’t been easy, but I like challenges and getting out of my comfort zone, so it’s been great for me professionally and personally,” Milos says. What struck him was how familiar it was working with a new Zühlke team too. “It was a huge change resettling in a different country but I immediately felt at home,” he explains.
Integration comes more easily to some people than others. Vladimir, for one, is a natural networker and finding plenty of ways to build connections in Vietnam. He gave the example of a recent ice skating event he had organised. It’s not something anyone in the team had done before, but by the end of the hour, they were all getting around the rink just fine and getting to know each other while they were at it. He’s also a person generally inclined to exploring the city he’s in. “When I was in Singapore, my colleagues were amazed at the places I found myself in – they hadn’t even been to some of them,” he laughs.
Challenges when working abroad: Navigating different cultures
Even working in the same organization, there can be cultural differences which need to be navigated as part of acclimatising. Abbie spoke of learning to get used to the famous German frankness and plain-talking, for example. Speaking about these kinds of local quirks also reminded Vladimir of a highlight of his experience so far: a session Zühlke organised on intercultural training. “You think any differences are going to be obvious, but they’re not, and some of the things I learned have been critical in helping me to live and work here successfully,” he explains.
Everyone we spoke to said they’d recommend this kind of move to others. When asked for their advice to people who wanted to explore global mobility, each had something different to share. For Milos, the important thing is to approach it intentionally. “Be open about it, speak to your manager and put it into your career goals,” he says. Abbie on the other hand, emphasised the need to do your homework beforehand. “I’d also make sure to actually visit the country and potential colleagues in real life,” she laughs, having moved to Germany without doing either.
International exposure. Personal growth.
One thing that all three interviewees could agree on was that their moves have been integral to their personal development. Milos, for example, originally considered relocation to the London location because his office in Serbia didn’t have a sales function and he wanted to get more involved in that side of the business. “I better understand how all of the different processes and operations work now. I learned and grew so much in a year and I really didn’t expect it to happen so quickly,” he says.
Abbie, on the other hand, highlights the personal development she’s experienced in this process. She says the experience has made her more independent and confident. “Making new friends as an adult isn’t easy, but even I surprised myself at how social I could be in these new situations,” she says. Reflecting on his journey, Vladimir concludes that the opportunity to build his network has been the major benefit to him. “I’ve learned that the world is actually quite a small place, and with good connections you can achieve whatever you need,” he explains.
The benefits of thinking international
Global mobility is a win-win approach for Zühlke. People benefit, but so does the organisation as a whole. One of the ways this shows up is in the strengthening of networks between the locations. Vladimir explained that he’d seen it opening new opportunities for work and building trust in clients too, exposing them to different offices. He also highlighted the sharing of knowledge as being a major upside. “If we have a best practice in one location, we can expose others to it so it can become the standard,” he says. That’s a sentiment Milos echoes too. “When I came to the UK, the office was growing rapidly and I’d already navigated that situation in Serbia, so I could share what we’d experienced there and how we’d approached the challenges that come with it,” he says.
To Abbie, the global mobility opportunities are a great way to keep talented individuals in the organization. When people want to experience something new, they can make a move within Zühlke for their personal development. “I personally felt very seen and heard when I expressed an interest in moving, even though I’d only been with the company for three months,” she says.