‘My FLITE to London’- Maren Augestad
When October finally came, my London adventure had begun. I packed my bags got on a plane and made my way to London. I was ready, excited and also a bit nervous (to be honest).
Although I have been travelling before, I have never travelled alone for so long and neither have I travelled all by myself to a city as big as London. So, I must admit that it all felt a bit overwhelming when I got off the train at Paddington. Standing there with my two oversized bags, I tried figure out the best way to walk towards what was to become my new home for the next three months. I was a bit nervous, very excited but 100 % sure that it was going to be great.
I have been here for three weeks and I can most certainly say that “the big smoke” has delivered to be more than I expected. Apart from the time I have spent at the office, I have used as much time as possible exploring the city and the best way to do so is by walking. I have spent 6 hours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday walking around the city, people watching and looking for new places to go and things to do. Having this in mind, I should know my way around by now but I am grateful to have Google maps. I have been, what feels like “all over the place“ but I’m still discovering new places to visit every day. This also includes my own neighbourhood, I must admit to the fact that I have gotten myself lost more than once and I started to wonder how people managed to navigate using the underground so much, which I think makes you lose your sense of direction. When I discovered that even Londoners use Google Maps when getting around it was reassuring to know that I am not the only one who needs help. But all considered, I think I’m getting the hang of it.
While walking around London I have been able to experience everything from the historic buildings to the marvellous parks, not to forget the thousands of people who call themselves Londoners.
The thing I like most about London is the multicultural vibe you get everywhere you go. You can meet people from all over the world when visiting this city and if they are real Londoners they appear with an inviting smile and a ‘how are you?’ as long as you stand on the right side of the escalator in the underground. I love it!
When talking to friends and family at home, I always get asked if I have been shopping yet, which I have! I’ve love vintage clothing and have been caught by the “vintage wave” with all the shops in London I have died and gone to heaven. I might have to take an extra suitcase when I fly home, because I have already discovered a lot of the many vintage stores. I must remember to also buy some Christmas presents before the I blow my budget on clothes for myself.
Next to my passion of vintage shopping have I discovered that London is also a good place for me to pursue my new hobby eating out. It’s really a big thing to go out and eat in London. There are so many nice restaurants everywhere you go in London and if it is lunch or dinner you are looking for you can eat for a fairly good price. My favourite night here so far was the evening we went “all in“. My boyfriend came to visit me from Norway and we decided to go for the full London experience, we went to dinner and attended one of London’s prestigious musicals ‘Les Misérables’. The musical is just as amazing as everyone says, I am so happy I went. We had dinner at one of many popular Indian restaurants in the city. We knew it was good because there was a massive queue. The food was amazing and the service even better. I now understand what people mean when they say, you haven’t had a proper Indian until you try an Indian in London.
The UM team welcomed me into the London office. As a part of the UM team, I am supporting the planning teams. It has been fun to learn about how the UK market works and how the local team manage it. There are more similarities than differences between the UK and Norway, especially in the channel choices and channel possibilities, as well as the way my colleagues work to plan and execute the strategies from an agency point of view.
However, the part that differs the most from Norway is the structure of the agency and the work processes with in the office. In the Norwegian office there are 60 people in total, which is far smaller than just half of one floor in the UK office.
This means that in terms of the work process every day tasks differ from what people do in their day-to-day job in London. When you work as a media planner in Norway your job is to do the planning, buying, and reporting for all of your clients. In the UK, planners and buyers work together to solve the same task. Understanding how it works here will be very useful for future cooperation when going back to Norway.
In addition to working with the UM team, I been lucky enough to support the EMEA strategy team during some of the pitches. This time I were supposed to help the local teams in the Nordic. Lucky for me this also turned out to be a good experience, and a very much educational. It was fun to see how they worked with the strategy development from a central perspective to then implement it across the local markets. Normally I’m on the other end of this process and am responsible for developing a strategy that was given to me by the local team.
Everyone has asked me if it is better to work in London or Norway but to be honest I have found this question difficult to answer. The reality is that they are both great and both different, but the type of people they employ are very similar. It makes sense when you think about it as the HR teams are looking for employees with similar qualities all over the world. Which again, makes us pretty comprehensive as an agency if you look at it form an international perspective. It must benefit us when working with all our international clients. In Norway our CEO says that “It is the people that make the difference”, I really agree with that. When people ask me what I will miss the most when going back home, I think it must be my new colleagues. Luckily we are only an email apart and hopefully will be able to work together on some international clients. The experience I’ve had here has been brilliant and I am so pleased that I took part in this program, I would recommend it to everyone.
Earlier this year, IPG Mediabrands EMEA announced the launch of the first talent mobility programme, FLITE Mobility. 90 staff members applied from 15 countries and 16 agencies for the chance to work in one of our diverse markets for up to 3 months. We have been closely following the 10 outstanding employees chosen, and it’s proving to be a great opportunity for not only professional development, but also personal growth.