Sofie’s Flite Mobility Blog
Sofie Haraké works for IPG Mediabrands Stockholm, and has spent 3 months working in the London office.
From snowy Stockholm I arrived in early February to London. The plane was delayed for a few hours from Arlanda airport, so it was already late in the evening when I jumped into a taxi and said; “Farringdon Road, please!” The driver took it upon himself to give me a guided tour as we passed through different areas and historical buildings, such as Kangaroo Valley and the National Museum. It was an exciting ride to say the least. Finally we got to the apartment and the travels were at an end after ten hours on the road.
Finding my way in new places has always been a challenge, but luckily I’ve visited the UK office once before so getting to work the next morning was very easy. However, it took me a few days to realize that on my first trip to the UK office there had been a detour from Farringdon Station to the office, when in fact it was just around the corner. But I never was a great map reader.
One thing that really got me was the weather, so mild you wouldn’t believe it was February, and daylight until seven or eight pm – it felt like fast forwarding the Swedish winter and going directly to early spring. It rained on the first day, but since then the sun has been shining almost every day. While writing this blog piece we’ve opened the windows to let fresh air and sunshine in. I am quite excited to get to experience twice the amount of spring this year. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore winter time with hard snow that glitters under your feet when walking, cold crisp air and that quiet darkness that comes with February being the coldest month of the year. But this year, winter can wait. I’m looking forward to enjoying the mild English weather and experiencing something new.
And London is something new. The culture in itself is not that different from Sweden, everything is almost the same yet, still different. From grocery stores and food brands, to driving on the left-hand side of the road (thank God for instructions where to look when crossing the street) there is a lot to experience. Luckily the new business team I’m assigned to during my stay has so kindly taken me in and we eat lunch out daily, trying new places and it has massively improved my local knowledge and orientation of where we are and where to go. They’ve shared lists of restaurants, things to do and really helped me get off to a flying start. One of them even helped me to join the local gym.
I’m still getting used to watching British news on the television and keeping up in normal conversations at work. I always thought of myself as quite fluent in the Queen’s English, but I’ve come to realise that with all the expressions being used and the sheer speed with which the native English speak, I still have a lot to learn. Hopefully I’ll adjust and improve my English whilst I’m here.
Requesting information from 70+ markets within a few days? No problem!
Jumping into another role in a whole other country has been an exciting adventure to say the least. Changing from Account Director and managing clients in Sweden, to coordinating EMEA and Global requests for the New Business team really took me back to basics. With whole new tasks, processes and routines it felt like being brand new to your job again, which is quite a special feeling.
Even though most of the things here almost feel like home, there are a few things that really stand out compared to my regular assignments back in Sweden:
- The sheer size of coordinating New Business is massive. However, the team has built up relationships with colleagues all over the world so it did not take long to make new pen pals in markets such as Italy, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and all the way to Mexico and Dubai. It’s really impressive how the New Biz team keep track of requests for all pitches, across all markets, over different time zones and people involved.
- The tools available are really a great support which saves times and helps getting the information needed to complete the tasks. And I must admit, some of them are quite cool. I’d never had imagined I would send emails to 70+ markets but in some ways the world seems a bit smaller here as everyone is, regardless of where in the world they are, within reach of emails, phone calls or texts. It’s quite a friendly feeling.
- The amount of people working in the UK office really differs from home, as the UK office has almost 7 times more people working here. You will find that there is a separate team for each and every assignment. Unlike at home where one person might do both New Business, Strategy, Planning, Project Manage and so on. Really nice to experience that, regardless of never having met the person before, everybody has been happy to help.
Luckily, after a few weeks everything started to fall into place and a pattern appeared. There are new challenges everyday, but all in all the requests tend to have something similar. Even communicating in a different language is starting to get easier and I’m starting to feel right at home.
Final blog entry to complete now and I’m thinking back on my three months here, I would say that the things I’ve picked up from this experience would be:
- How to manage and collect data and information from lots of different markets in a very short time. The task of keeping track of the different stages and who has done what really require firm organizing and project management skills. In face, to-do lists and maintaining databases does come in handy while coordinating markets.
- Having a historical references to the last 8-10 pitches is really beneficial and saves a lot of time, thus all submissions are saved on file and uploaded to the Equest database (which I didn’t know existed prior to coming here). However, having a few pitches fresh in the back of your mind really is a big help as the RFI submissions are often similar. So even if you understand the process, and the information is available on file, updated and fresh information you’ve worked on is key.
- Another thing that has been a somewhat new experience for me was the usage of “war rooms” during pitch processes, portrait usages of PowerPoint files, the extensive administration that goes in to coordination and also getting to new a lot of people here. I wouldn’t say I’ve had the opportunity to meet all of the colleagues, but really starting to get a hang of who does what and when. And you know what, the best thing about being here has probably been meeting and working with a bunch of new people and trying out different assignments.
- As far as bringing the experience home, how do you even start to capture three months into a specific object? Obviously, there are a few neat tips and tricks, mostly administrative timesavers such as templates that I’m definitely bringing home to work with. But to be honest the only thing I can really think of that I want to bring back is the experience itself and try to make use of it back at home. The new biz tasks aren’t 100 % applicable to my day to day job back home, but will try and bring as much knowledge back as possible.
And if anyone who is reading this is thinking about applying? Just go on and do it. You wont regret it. Even if the work assignments are completely new or perhaps not new at all, you will be meeting lots of people and getting a chance to live somewhere else for a short period of time, just the experience in itself – it will be worth it.
It’s been amazing! Thank you all!