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Global opportunities

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Simon

Simon Lance joined Hays in Western Australia in 2004 and by 2008 was Manager for Western Australia’s C&P division. In February 2012 he was appointed as Regional Director for Hays China, followed by promotion to Managing Director in 1st January 2015. Simon tells us about more about his new role, his past experiences, and the opportunities that are available with Hays …

What encouraged to you to take up this opportunity? 
I have had a strong interest in living and working in Asia for many years, and believe that the next decade will see incredible opportunities for Hays in the region. The rapidly emerging Asian economies are creating strong career development paths for Managers and Consultants, who all have the opportunity to shape Hays’ strategy for the region. I have also always liked the idea of combining work with travel and had been looking for an opportunity to transfer internationally with Hays for a few years before finally making the decision to relocate.

Why China?
I have followed China’s emergence as a major global power closely, particularly through the recent global economic turmoil, and believe that Hays has a truly unique opportunity to rapidly establish a large-scale, industry leading business. China’s slowing economic growth has been the topic of considerable debate and speculation but it really does not present any major barriers to our own growth and expansion. China’s strategic importance to multi-national companies will only increase and, along with many other service-industries, the recruitment market continues to go through a rapid expansion and transformation, creating some really unique and challenging opportunities.

How have you found working and living in China so far?
I actually found the transition really straight-forward. I don’t speak Mandarin but fortunately our staff all have high-levels of proficiency in English, making the professional transition very comfortable. Socially, China’s major cities all have large expatriate populations and I have found it really easy to make friends & contacts, from all corners of the globe. International travel links are great (and cheap), particularly within SE Asia so, although I miss the beaches of Australia, I’ve had the chance to explore some really interesting destinations.

How do you think your new role will differ from your previous one?
The geographical and logistical difficulties of managing a large team, based in four separate locations across an area the size of Australia, is definitely a new challenge. It also takes time to understand the Chinese business and culture. The fact that our business is relatively young, and the industry is going through such a rapid transformation, means that we are constantly looking to innovate and evolve to stay ahead of the competition. I find that working in China demands a much greater degree of autonomy & accountability at every level of seniority and, although it does present significant challenges & pressure, I really enjoy the different business culture and environment.

How has your past experience prepared you for this new challenge?
I have lived and worked in several different countries in my career and have managed multi-Specialism businesses, so was comfortable that I could adapt my management style to suit a different culture. I have also been involved in Hays businesses at different stages of growth (start-up vs. established; large vs. small;  boom market vs. declining market) and believe I have been able to build successful, productive teams in each situation. Overall though, I think best preparation was to approach the transfer with an open mind, seeking to pass on the knowledge I had acquired in my career while learning as much as I could from my staff and colleagues in China.

What will you be focusing on during your first few months?
My initial priority was to restructure the business, consolidate our core Specialisms and drive strong productivity increases, which we achieved successfully in a relatively short-space of time. The focus for the business is to continue driving productivity increases, while investing in our people and technology resources to develop a business of significant size & scale. I believe culture is at the core of our success, so we are also pretty focused on having a lot of fun along the way!

Do you have any tips for any colleagues thinking of moving abroad with Hays?
I think the best advice is to stop thinking about it, and just commit to a move! I have no hesitation in saying that it will probably be one of the best decisions you make in your career and life, so don’t hesitate - seize a good global opportunity and don’t look back. When it comes to relocation itself, keep an open mind, take every opportunity to learn from your colleagues while sharing your own knowledge and experience, and enjoy the experience of a new country & culture!

What are you most looking forward to in the future?
Overtaking Japan as Hays Asia’s largest business

Thilo

Thilo joined Hays Germany in 2004 where he helped to grow the IT and Engineering Contracting business and later successfully launched the Life Science and Construction & Property Temp business. Thilo has just relocated to the US as Division Director of IT and Life Sciences Contracting in New York.

What is it about recruitment and your role that you enjoy?
What I like about recruiting the Hays way, is the sporting spirit. It is about reaching the top of the league table and working even harder to stay there. Our business rewards great achievements. Not only through bonuses and career opportunities, but also by long lasting relationships with clients, which both consultants and the company benefit from.

You started out in Germany and have recently relocated to New York, what brought the move about?
It was the huge opportunity as well as management’s vision of growing our business in the world’s largest economy. There was no way I could miss out on the opportunity. Also New York has always been one of my favourite cities.

You began working for Hays in 2004, how has the company evolved during this time?
When I joined Hays in GSC (German speaking countries), we had roughly 180 consultants on board and about 1,200 contractors. Now there are over 1,000 consultants and over 10,000 contractors. During that time our brand awareness grew immensely, especially in the IT contracting industry, which opened up opportunities for us to work with big clients more strategically. The business in Germany is now able to open up new business fields very quickly.

You will be leading the Contract division (IT & Life Sciences) in New York, what challenges are you expecting that may differ to what you have experienced before in Germany?
Let’s face it, the competition is going to be very tough in the US. We need to invest a lot of energy and patience to ensure we gain market share through our unique sales proposition. But I’m sure, once the clients experience our service level and values, we will have a very good chance to grow the business quickly.

Was there an attraction to working in what will be a new market for Hays?
Being a pioneer for Hays is a reward itself, as you can see the effects and successes of your work straight away.

What’s been your highlight, or your proudest moment, working for Hays?
There have been several. It is always nice to be rewarded by the board for great sales efforts, but seeing clients and teams you have built from scratch grow is a very rewarding feeling. Also positive feedback from a client or candidate still gives me goose bumps after ten years in the profession.

What excites you most about the future?
Being part of the success story we will be creating in North America.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about relocating?
If you like the idea, the country and the business you are going to be in, just do it! Don’t worry about the moving process itself, there will be unexpected bumps for sure but focus on the chances and not the challenges!

Justine

Justine started working for Hays in our Kingston office in the UK and she now works in Mexico.

You started out in our Kingston office in C & P as a trainee running the Architecture perm desk. What attracted you to Mexico?
From my beginnings as a trainee I had thought of taking advantage of our International Operations. In my fifth year with Hays I took a sabbatical and spent some time in Mexico and once I returned to the UK I decided it was time to really benefit from our global reach. After seeing that we had established offices here in 2011, I had no doubt that it was what I wanted next in my career.

What are the differences between the businesses in England and Mexico?
They really are worlds apart. The UK business is huge with a massive network of established offices, consultants and a database that has been fed for decades! In Mexico we are only just making our mark in the market really and as a little-known brand/service we are working hard to build our reputation, our database and our team. It’s a big challenge, it can be hard at times but good fun as well.

Was it a difficult decision to leave the England and what do you miss?
Leaving home was definitely a big decision but not all that difficult in the end. Once I saw the opportunity we had in Mexico it was just a question of working up the courage to make the move. I miss the usual things you would expect- friends, family, banter, food (despite the popular opinion here that British Food isn´t “good”)

What are the main challenges you face when relocating?
My situation was relatively easy in comparison to many. I haven´t got a family to uproot and drag around the world so I arrived with a couple of suitcases and that was it. So the challenge was really deciding to leave all I know and love and arrive in a new country/continent with a new language/culture and a new team/challenge. Of all those challenges, the language/culture was the hardest for me.

What has your move taught you?
That a good consultant can take what they know and apply it in ways they hadn´t even thought of. And that I am a sucker for spicy food!

Lisa

Lisa began her career with Hays nine years ago in Ireland before relocating to Dubai and more recently to Australia where she has worked in Perth and Melbourne, Lisa is currently the Business Manager in Human Resources Melbourne.

What is it about recruitment and your role that you enjoy?
The constant interaction with clients, candidates and my colleagues would have to be up there and you can’t beat the high you get when you fill a job or beat the competition. The thing I love most though, and in particular working for Hays, is the variety of my job. I’ve worked in three countries with Hays, in four separate industries and each role has been completely different from the last. I like being kept on my toes, being challenged and having the opportunity to learn and develop.

You started out in Ireland and have since worked in UAE and now Australia, what made you choose these countries?
Before I started working at Hays I took a year out to travel the world. When I came home to Ireland I still had the travel bug but I was torn between travelling and finding a decent career. Fortunately working for Hays allowed me to do both.
I had previously worked in the States and Australia so the UAE was something completely different. Four of us transferred from Ireland together at the same time and it was like having family over there. Moving to the Middle East allowed me to continue to travel to new countries like India, Sri Lanka, Oman and we even went to a hen party in Beirut, which was an experience I’ll never forget!
Australia on the other hand was an easy choice for me. I had worked in Sydney before and I had always wanted to return. The standard of living here is the best I’ve experienced. It’s a very outdoors and laid back lifestyle and the climate is pretty hard to beat. The Perth office is a profitable business and has a great working environment. We have a very multi-cultural office and everyone here creates a positive, collaborative and fun environment.

What are the differences between the businesses in Ireland, UAE and Australia?
Each country is so different and each Hays office mirrors their environment. Ireland is very small, with a population of 4.5 million in the Republic. Hays have a good presence there and I had the opportunity to run a fantastic office in Cork. They were recently voted one of Ireland’s Great places to work so they’re making headlines for all the right reasons.
Dubai is a pretty young recruitment market. The Middle East and North African region is obviously huge and I was dealing with clients from Abu Dhabi to Saudi, Libya and Egypt. A client visit could take hours to get to. The main differences though were cultural. It really was an eye opener and a massive learning curve, but a fantastic opportunity and I learned a great deal.
I moved to Perth last September. This office is one of the most profitable in the business globally with a unique mining industry that any country would relish. The Hays Branding in Australia is very strong which gives us a huge competitive advantage. We’re larger than our three biggest competitors combined in Western Australia and that’s saying something. This is the biggest office I have worked in, circa 160 strong.

Was it a difficult decision to leave Ireland and what do you miss?
Yes, I promised my mum I wouldn’t leave again so that was a difficult conversation. Eeeeek! I miss my family and friends but I go home once a year and they make an effort to visit. Plus with Skype and Viber now it’s far easier to stay in touch than it used to be.

What are the main challenges you face when relocating?
I came over to manage the IT business so the technical side of IT was challenging at first but I’m at a stage now where I understand it and am enjoying it. Logistically it’s far easier the second time around. Hays took care of everything and settling into Perth was easy.

What have the moves to UAE and Australia taught you?

  1. To think outside the box
  2. Work life balance is important.
  3. People are nice everywhere you go.
  4. I’m lucky English is my first language and I can relocate easily!

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about relocating?
Take advantage of the Hays transfer support. It’s better to think I can’t believe I did that than look back and think I wish I did it.

Claire

Claire, Senior Consultant, Construction and Property took the chance to move from her home town in New Zealand to the chillier climes of Sweden. Here we find out what prompted this move and how she feels about those dramatic temperature shifts!

Hi Claire, you have been in Sweden quite a while now. It must be a massive change in scenery. Can you tell us how this came about?
Yes, it certainly is a change. Luckily I lived in the UK for a couple of years when I was younger so the long dark days are not as much of a shock to the system (they are longer and darker in Sweden though). I moved because my boyfriend is Swedish and I thought why not. It was an added bonus that Hays were looking for people when I was considering moving.

How does your role differ from the one you held in the Queensland office?
My role here in the Stockholm office is different, primarily because I am recruiting for different professionals. In Queensland, I recruited for Office Support. I am also managing a larger team, which is very rewarding.

Is there any difference in office environment?
There are lots of differences. I guess the most prominent is that we were a pretty noisy bunch in Queensland. I recall having to take calls under my desk some days, it’s not quite like that here. There is a different kind of buzz here.

How do you take advantage of living in such a stunning and diverse country?

I actually took a few months to do some exploring when I first moved here before starting in the position, a decision I am glad to have made. I’m lucky to have my own personal tour guide (boyfriend) so that comes in handy to know the best places to visit. I really love the countryside here it is beautiful as is the Archipelago.

What advice would you give to someone looking to move abroad?

Think very carefully about why you want to move and of course the destination. Do your research and speak with as many people who have made a similar move, if possible visit the country. You need to be aware of the cultural differences, which of course impact not only your life in a social setting but also in the workplace and the way of conducting business. For example it's a bad idea to start a conversation with "Well that's not that way it should be done", a better way would be to say "Well that's interesting, that is not the way it is done where I am from, I'm interested to learn more from you about....let's have a coffee so I can understand more". From my experience if you are not prepared to accept and embrace the cultural differences you will find it very hard to assimilate. Plus that's a big part of the adventure, learning about the nation you have relocated to.