As our London office embarked on an expansion program this year, Caroline, Jowita and Nicole, three members of our Client Management team, were selected for the opportunity to temporarily relocate to our London office to support our growing EMEA team and contribute to creating a vibrant office culture. Learn more about them and their experience midway through their journey.
Tell me about your start with Coleman. What were you doing prior to joining?
Caroline – Coleman was my first job out of college. I moved from CT to NC and joined Coleman as an Analyst in August 2016. My first year was spent on one of our consulting teams.
Jowita – Prior to joining Coleman, I worked as an Order Management Specialist at Thomson Reuters for a bit over 1.5 years. Before that, I ran my own school of foreign languages which I’d started soon after graduating from university. I’ve been working at Coleman since March 2016.
Nicole – I found the job at my university job fair (Wake Forest University). After graduating, I moved to Raleigh (after only visiting once for the interview) and started as an Analyst in June 2016.
Why were you interested in taking advantage of the opportunity in London?
C- I studied abroad in college and knew I wanted to live/work abroad again at some point in my life. Professionally, I hoped that transferring to London would give me greater exposure to the business and more opportunities to build my leadership skills. I was also intrigued by London because there is no language barrier here.
J – I never did a semester abroad when I was a student (although I did a month in Russia during summer holidays) and I really wanted to experience living and working outside my home country.
N – I had never been to London before and was excited by the idea of a new adventure. I have always enjoyed traveling so I thought this would be a great fit! Additionally, I really enjoy working with new hires and have found this to be an excellent way to share my Coleman advice and experience with new hires and build the Coleman fundamentals from the beginning.
How has your day-to-day changed?
C- Rather than driving, I take the tube to work every morning. Instead of making weekly hauls at Target, I stop by the grocery store every other night and take what I can carry. But the biggest change overall is having a jam-packed itinerary for every weekend. I am never bored!
N – Outside of work, commuting has been the biggest change. I had never lived in a big city before, so it took some getting used to taking the tube every day to work. Within the job day-to-day, since I am now on the global fulfillment team, the workflow has changed a bit. The biggest difference was going from working on only consulting projects in Raleigh to working on projects from all different types of clients in APAC and the US here in London.
What have you enjoyed most about living in London? Least?
C- I am really enjoying the holiday spirit here, the lights and decorations are so beautiful. Overall though, we’ve made a huge effort to take advantage of everything that London offers. It’s so easy to go to a play after work, support a local football team, visit new markets on the weekend, or walk all over town and see the sights. What I don’t like about London is the temperature. It’s a bit too cold for my liking!
J – What I’ve enjoyed most is the never-ending list of exciting things to do. I’ve seen so much of London, it almost feels like I’ve been here forever! It was also great to travel to Paris by Eurostar – in a bit over two hours you find yourself in the capital of another European country! The biggest downside of living in a big city is the large crowds and having to queue up for anything anywhere!
Has anything about your experience surprised you?
J – It still surprises me how a train that seemed unbearably packed back in Gdansk now feels almost empty.
N – I have really been surprised at how international of a city London is. There are so many people from so many different areas that really influence the culture, food, etc.
What’s been the most challenging part of being a transplant?
C – General immigration challenges. Setting up a bank account, applying for national insurance, registering for a GP, learning how to perform simple tasks here (like turning on our heat), setting up wifi (which took a month), etc. It was also hard to look for a flat in the beginning when we really didn’t know the city well at all. I have a much greater appreciation for those who leave their country in pursuit of making a new home elsewhere. It isn’t easy but it’s very fulfilling to experience such a move.
J – Having to leave my new flat that I’d just moved into and change it for a room in a house shared with 3 other people.
Can you provide some insight into the growing London office?
C – This office has great energy. The new hires are very smart, keen to learn, and working on improving their speed. Everybody is so motivated and excited to be climbing up in the ranks. We are also really enjoying WeWork (including the adorable puppies that work here too).
N – This is an exciting time for the Coleman office in London. The five new hires who started in September have been a fantastic addition to the team. They have brought great energy and comradery to the office! We have a new class starting in December as well and we look forward to welcoming them to Coleman!
Have you been able to explore London or England? What’s your favorite spot? Any exciting travel plans?
J – I’ve been exploring London quite a lot with Nicole and Caroline – who by the way are making the experience so much more enjoyable! We’ve also had a chance to see a bit of England already but I want to see more and, perhaps, a few other European cities too! My favorite spot in London is anywhere along the river – the views are stunning (Houses of Parliament, The Eye, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and many more) and it’s not so crowded.
N – A highlight was doing a tour called “England in a Day”. While we didn’t see all of England, by the end of the day we had seen Stonehenge, Bath, the Cotswolds, and Stratford-Upon-Avon (where Shakespeare was born). Looking forward to visiting Copenhagen, where I have many memories of studying abroad, in a few weeks to see all the Christmas markets!
Do you feel like this experience will change your long-term career goals? If so, how?
C- Absolutely. I’d love to stay in an international company throughout my career, as I think it is great fun working with colleagues around the world. This experience has certainly kept me hungry for new challenges, that’s for sure!
N – Gaining international business experience will be a great addition to whatever I want to do next with my career. I think the biggest thing that I have learned is the importance of communication when you are working across different countries/ time zones etc.
Do you have any advice for future participants in a similar transfer program between offices?
C – Home will always be there for you but chances to travel and live in a new country don’t come around every day. Go for it and have a blast!
J – Take the chance and use the experience you’re given to the fullest. Explore and enjoy!
N – Come in with an open mind! Be ready to share your tips and experience but also be open to adapting to a different workflow.