MBA Class of 2008 dinner
Boston, MA, USA
Boston, MA, USA
The first big move I made for my career was in 2005 when I decided to take two years out, to study for a full-time MBA in the USA. I hoped to work in the USA for a few years afterwards and get some good experience there.
If you gain a Master's degree in the US, you can work there for one year afterwards. Often foreign graduates are then 'sponsored' by their employer company to continue working in the USA with an H1B work visa.
I got a scholarship and a part-time job in the Marketing Department at Northeastern University - Office of Corporate Programs. So that also helped financially.
Returning from Boston to move back to London, 10 years later (2015), was a far bigger and more complicated affair. I was now married, with a 6-year-old son, with disabilities (ADHD and Dyspraxia) and a 9-year-old daughter.
My wife, Catherine, born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, had always wanted to live in the UK. She was running College recruiting at her company, Akamai, in 2015, when she was offered the chance to go to London, to run EMEA recruiting there, managing a team of twenty-five recruiters.
I found a great job too, setting up Lead generation in the UK and Europe, for a little-known Cybersecurity start-up called Zscaler, founded in 2008. It has since had an IPO and is now valued at twenty-three billion US dollars on The NASDAQ.
This brings me to my next point:
1. Paperwork: Other than the usual challenges of getting an MBA; Taking The GMAT, making the applications, writing the application essays, interviewing for the schools, and finding the money to go; I'd say getting the Visa sorted out was the hardest part.
It required me to complete a lot of complicated paperwork. Further down the road, when I finally got my US Permanent resident card ('Green Card'), it was even more problematic. There were so many hoops to jump through that I eventually had to hire an Immigration lawyer at considerable expense to expedite it.
Equally important, though not as hard; after two years of living in the country, I had to pass my US driving license - many years after passing my British driving test. Ironically I passed my UK driver's license the first time. But for my US one, I had to take it twice!
Help, Where's my car? I need to get to work!
2. The Weather; My second shock was rather more prosaic; I was just not prepared for Boston's weather. In the winter, it gets down to -25 C. You also have big snowstorms.
For example, the last winter I was in Boston, in 2015, over 14 feet (4 meters) of snow fell in the city. In the summer, you need air conditioning in your apartment. It gets up to 40 degrees centigrade.
3. Get help: Make sure you employ all the services you can. For this, we used a corporate relocation company to manage our move. Moreover, we used an army of staff, from childcare professionals to cleaners.
Corporate relocations have experienced a paradigm shift in the last fifty years. In the twentieth century, the husband usually worked, and the wife, who did not, would manage a lot of the move.
Today, more often than not, you are dealing with 2 parents, who both have to manage demanding jobs. Consequently, anything that will save you time is an absolute necessity.
My son, Jack, in our dining room in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
4. Make sure you employ technology to your advantage. We live in a digital world for a reason. It's fast and efficient. Everything from using DocuSign to sign all our documents (including the sale of our house in Boston) to Skype or teams for all those international calls, to using video surveying tools to track where all our furniture was.
5. The importance of having flexible work. There is no way We would have managed this move so effectively without remote working.
I had two weeks of training in Austen, Texas, and I travelled back to Europe several times to run conferences there. Just after the move, I had to go from England to a Sales kick-off in Las Vegas.
During this time, I was partially renovating and selling our house. We were unhappy with our real estate agent, so we had to switch agents mid-way.
Throughout this, Zscaler allowed me to work remotely for the UK office, from Boston, USA, for almost four months. Zscaler's and Akamai's flexibility made a big difference to Catherine and me.