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Tea and Talk: Should you should consider moving abroad to progress your career?

Date: 20 March 2019

At Phaidon International, we are passionate about nurturing the next generation of talent in our business. The majority of our current leadership started out at entry level with us, so we know that our youngest employees will be our leaders of tomorrow. Monthly, we host Tea and Talk, a series of panel discussions, workshops and informal drop-ins for our employees on the ground floor to learn directly from our more senior people. 

On International Women's Day, we ran a special edition of Tea and Talk to engage our staff with all things #BalanceforBetter. Collectively, our panel have a wealth of experience from the recruitment industry. Cara, Clare, Dawn, Gail and Jack shared their personal challenges and experiences, how they think the industry has changed to be more gender balanced in recent years, and what we can all do to drive diversity and inclusion.


ZACH STAMP: What would your top five tips be for someone considering relocating abroad? There’re some pretty obvious choices here to answer that so, Cara why don’t we start with you?

CARA: I haven’t got five, but I’ve got one really big one. Think about why you want to move abroad. If it’s because of a lifestyle choice, definitely pick somewhere depending on what you can do there. But actually, think about where you want to get to your career as well. Are you moving abroad because you can get to director faster than if you can if you stay? Particularly at Phaidon International, where we’re growing quickly and opening more offices, you may have more opportunity by moving to a less developed office. For me, when I moved to New York, I went to visit it beforehand to see what it was like. I absolutely hated it. I hated everything about New York. [Laughs] I must be the only person in the world to say that, but it’s true. In the end, I loved it. But originally, I knew if I moved there I could progress my career much more quickly. But yeah, think hard why you want to move.

JACK TRUDEAU: I would say do it. [Audience laughs] It’s such a learning experience to sample a culture. Harry came to me and said, “Do you want to move to New York?” I said, “No, all my business is here. Don’t know anyone there. Went there when I was like 10 and I wasn’t that into it. But I went out there with my friends for a weekend. All my friends said, “Why wouldn’t you move out there?” London will be exactly the same when you get back. Go for a few years, it looks great on your resume. I’m pleased I took their advice. I’ve been there six years now and I’m not coming back. It’s the best decision I’ve made and I’m so glad I listened to those people on the weekend.

CLARE COOPER: My experience is a bit different. You guys came at it from a recruitment perspective. My advice would just be, embrace it! I remember when I moved to San Francisco, I knew nobody. It was different from Jack going out there with the boys. I used to go on nights out by myself. Seriously! You have to do that. It’s the same people I see who relocated office globally, they just hang out with expats. You have to put yourself out there. Sometimes it’s a bit awkward and lonely. You really miss your family and your friends. But I literally threw myself into it. It’s like when you’re at university, in that first week you have to make friends with people you don’t really want to be friends with. It’s all a bit uncomfortable, but yeah that would be my recommendation. Don’t just get stuck in expat life. Make friends with people from there. Do things you wouldn’t normally do. In the end, you’ll have the best experience.

CARA MYERS: Especially if you’re British and living in America. Someone’s going to start talking to you.

ZACH STAMP: Gail, Dawn – you’ve both had people in your team go off and relocate to other parts of the business. What advice would you give to people thinking about relocating?

GAIL BROWN: I’d say the same: do it. I remember two and a half years ago having a conversation with Harry about moving to New York. I said, “Could I go?” and he said, “Absolutely.” Unfortunately, I come with a husband so things were a little bit more difficult. I think if I had been six or seven years earlier in my career I definitely would have moved. I’ll say it to my team now, if anyone wants to go, I’ll back it.

CLARE COOPER: You can always come back.

Clare Cooper speaks to a crowd during Tea and Talk

ZACH STAMP: That idea of throwing yourself into an opportunity, or moving abroad, that takes a lot of confidence. How have you built your confidence over time, in terms of daily actions like actions, habits and beliefs that’s help you build your character? Or like you were saying about relocating, Clare, is there an element of 'fake it to you make it?'

GAIL BROWN: So, I am confident in my understanding of stuff, so I feel like this comes across.

ZACH STAMP: For some context here, Gail is somebody who really pushed the boundaries on these things. You have championed a lot of the diversity here at Phaidon. A few years back, I remember we had our annual sales meeting where we had a discussion about it afterwards and you really took the baton on that and have pushed things forward. And I think that’s an important point to make, having the confidence, if you want to make a change, go for it, push the agenda. This year’s ASM, you were up there, and I know before hand, it was your first time doing something like that in front of the entire business. It takes guts to do that, it takes guts first of all to put yourself up to it and it certainly takes guts to deliver it. So have confidence.

CARA MYERS: Yeah, I would sort of echo that. Checking in on your team. I manage teams across six offices, and we support hiring across eleven so actually that can be quite overwhelming to understand what’s going on all of the time. But actually, if your asked the difficult question from someone at the top. Like what is happening in Charlotte right now, what’s happening in Boston, even though I am not there, it is really important that you know. So, for me it was just about knowing your business inside out. So, when you do get asked difficult questions by your manager or your client, you can answer that and push back if you need to as well.

ZACH STAMP: Yes Matt, did you want to add something? [hands the mic to a member of the audience]

MATT MONAGHAN: I just wanted to add that I think when you look at someone like Clare Cooper, Jack Trudeau, and people that are leaders in the business, they are confident, they are driving forward from the top. But I think it is difficult to realise that it hasn’t always been the way for them and it hasn’t been the way for anyone in a senior position. Look at Zach, Matt Wood, anyone, probably Steve and Alex Small can say themselves that they have had the lows, they have had dips and I think it is very important to understand that recruitment will always be like that. And it’s important to be confident, but it is also important to know that that doesn’t have to be all the time. It is okay to have bad days, it’s okay to have a bad week and realise that you can still come back up from that.