Name: Geoffrey Barranco
Age: 27 years old.
Nationality: French (Spanish father)
Degree and university: I graduated from Reims Management School (France) in 2001 with a Masters of Science Degree in Management with a specialization in International Business.
Work Title: After finishing the two year Wolseley European Graduate Programme, I started as a Strategic Planning Analyst. I am a member of the Group Finance department.
What do you actually do?
My main task is to communicate, transfer and appropriately apply the strategy from the Board down to the operations level. I am involved in several projects that enable Wolseley to leverage its size and international position. For example, we are currently working on building a harmonised global reporting structure thanks to the implementation of a new shared IT platform.
Were you always interested in working abroad?
I have to admit that I have not yet worked in my home country! Since the age of 12, my parents sent me abroad during the summer to improve my language skills. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make it a priority for my future career. I took all possible opportunities to gain experience abroad, including internships in Spain, the US and Germany. I also studied for one semester in Sweden. Since I joined Wolseley, I have lived in the UK and Austria. At the moment, I travel each week to Switzerland or/and the Czech Republic.
How did you find out about this particular job?
I was actively looking for the concept of a European Graduate Programme – several rotations in different countries with various projects – when I was contacted by a Graduate Headhunting Agency. Ironically, the Wolseley French subsidiary also contacted me later in relation to an application I had sent before the recruiting process had even started. I guess that is what people call destiny!
What difficulties have you encountered working away from your homeland?
The biggest challenge is probably finding the ability to switch your cultural mindset as quickly as possible. A classic example is the way in which you address people in each country: in France, ‘Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle’ is recommended, in the UK the first name is preferable, and in Austria ‘Herr/Frau’ is almost compulsory!
What do you like most about your job and are there any downsides?
Without doubt, it is the variety. I think that it is a privilege to be able to interact with people from different nationalities on various projects and from many locations in the world. In addition, I appreciate the exposure we have, particularly in my company, to senior management. I believe that the more you are in contact with good leaders the quicker you learn how to work effectively.
I know a lot of people find being far away from their family, friends and home challenging. It can also be difficult to spend more than two-thirds of my working time out of the office. But with the use of new communication tools this will always be less the case.
Are you considering returning home to work in the near future?
I am not excluding any possibilities. I love my home country and could imagine working there one day. However, I still consider myself young and therefore have a lot to discover. My company is encouraging me to take any opportunity that might arise on an international level and is always very supportive (e.g. help with the relocation process). I feel it is an advantage to gain experience abroad and I have not yet decided to stop, at least not for the time being.
What strengths do you need to make a success of working abroad?
I do not think there is one magic answer to being successful when working abroad, but being able to speak the local language and trying to adapt to the local culture can definitely help you to succeed.
What advice would you give graduates wishing to work abroad?
Be proactive. Very few companies offer jobs abroad to inexperienced graduates. My advice is therefore to look for any possible opportunities at career fares, recruitment events at universities or on corporate internet websites for international firms.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Starting a career abroad should not be a gamble. Once you have considered it, be prepared to commit and be sure of what your goal really is! When working abroad, making the extra effort will always be appreciated by the local people and could be a key factor in helping you to successfully integrate into the culture of the country where you live.