Inspired by a colleague’s positive experience, Georgie Fitch applied to participate in our secondment program after a year as an Account Executive with Publitek North America. Here’s what she learned during her time on secondment in the UK and Germany.
“Building positive working relationships is so important in marketing consultancy,” says Georgie. “My most motivating and enjoyable accounts are the ones where I feel supported by my team, and I believe that getting to know my co-workers is the best way to establish strong teams.”
So, what made secondment at Publitek so appealing?
“I saw that once previous secondees’ returned they felt closer to their global teammates and gained confidence in themselves within their accounts. They’d learned in-depth how each office operates and experenced different areas of work they wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see if it weren’t for their trip.”
Publitek’s secondment program therefore offered an ideal opportunity for Georgie to forge new friendships and learn more about our clients. Publitek has offices in Portland, North America, Hamburg in Germany, and Luton and Bath in the UK. But for Georgie, being seconded to just one other office was not enough!
“I applied to visit all of Publitek’s European locations because I work with someone at every office in one way or another. Essentially, I just wanted to meet everyone I possibly could!”
Applications can be made in any format, encouraging potential secondees to be creative. Says Georgie: “I’m a runner, so I decided to map out a run in the shape of ‘Publitek’ through the streets of Portland. I then created a video tracing the route and added short notes throughout explaining why I wanted to be chosen for the secondment program.”
How did the secondment measure up to expectations?
“I expected to learn about slight cultural differences and working practices that I could take back and relay to the US team to be more inclusive. Actually, I became fully engrained because everyone was so welcoming and learnt way more about how each office varies than I even anticipated.”
Secondment does require a degree of independence and Georgie did encounter some obstacles. “The main challenge I faced personally was traveling alone for the first time. I overcame that during the three weeks in Europe and the UK, especially as I had to navigate the trains, buses and flights alone. We don’t really rely on public transport in America.
“From a working perspective, switching time zones raised some issues. Having to work on UK / German hours and time my interactions with the US so I could obtain and provide answers on time to meet deadlines was something that I wasn’t used to at all, but I managed to adjust.”
Challenges aside, what does Georgie think the overall impact of the secondment has been for her career progression and future opportunities within the company?
“I feel so much more confident in myself and my work after coming back from my secondment. I think breaking the norm was great for me to see my role from almost an outsider’s perspective. I also feel like you often don’t realize how much you know until you’re asked to apply your knowledge.
“I am certainly more comfortable operating within the global team now. Having knowledge of the cultural norms, how the different offices operate and what everyone expects from each other has helped me understand how I can be more helpful to my global teammates, and I’m sure the opposite is true too.
“I understand more now how important it is that we have a global team. We’re all able to share valuable knowledge with each other and it makes operations so much quicker and smoother. A task can be completed in half the time when it’s started in one geo and completed overnight in another.”
What are the three most important things you have learned?
- “The relationships that we build within the workplace are just as important as the work that we do every day.
- “Always keep in mind the potential of cultural differences.
- “I’m capable of much more than I initially think!”
What improvements or additions would you suggest to improve the Publitek secondment program for future participants?
“I think I struggled the most with the train system! America doesn’t have a reliable train system at all so that was a big jump for me to rely on. Public transport at least in Portland isn’t as common so any extra guidance would be great for US secondment participants.”
What advice would you give to a colleague considering secondment?
“Take it day by day and don’t let the thought of three weeks away overwhelm you! You’ll adjust to the different work patterns just fine.”
What do you like most about your role?
“I enjoy that every day in my role is different. I get to work on a wide variety of projects, with multiple teams that include co-workers from around the globe and I’m constantly able to learn more every day in my role.”