Your career is mainly your responsibility. You should be the one who navigate your own career journey. Every single one of you surely have your own aspirations on how you want your career to progress or what you want to become in three, five or ten years from now.
As motivating as the aspirations might seem, they mean nothing more than a pipe dream if you only keep it in your head. When you aspire something, share it; your boss and the other support system will help you to land your dream.
This is what has happened consistently in these three Jaguarians’ story on how they got their international assignment.
Meet Aldi, Jurizka, and Winton, three Danoners who had the opportunity to explore other countries through their jobs.
Aldi Ramadhika currently works in our Specialized Nutrition’s Human Resource Department. He has moved into seven different roles during his eight years at Danone. Since 2017, Aldi has told his manager and HR Director about his aspiration to look for an international assignment. A few months later, they offered him the opportunity to join Jaguar, Danone’s talent exchange program that accommodates Danoner’s eagerness to gain international exposure. After six months of preparation and alignment, Aldi went to Shanghai, China, to begin his international assignment as an Organizational Development Manager.
Similar story happened to Winton, who has shared his career goal to be a global marketer since the beginning. Every year, he had a conversation with his manager about his readiness to get an international assignment and so he was nominated for a talent exchange and was assigned to a role in Danone’s headquarter in Paris, France. He was involved in the Manifesto Innovation Acceleration (MIA), a pilot project that launches product innovations outside of Danone’s portfolio.
As for Jurizka Jhamastri, it’s a pleasant surprise to get offered an opportunity to work as a Packaging Project Leader at Danone’s office in Auckland, New Zealand, reporting to the person who she had already been working with. Jurizka remembered being so excited when she was informed about the opportunity that she almost said YES! right away. But, as a newly married couple, she needed to secure the support from her husband and family first. She has long expressed her dream to work overseas to her husband. Not someone to back off from an opportunity to grow, she was elated when she got the full support from her husband and family. She immediately accepted the offer and went to New Zealand in August 2018.
Aim High, Prepare for the Worst
Living in a foreign country and learning new culture can be challenging, let alone having to do them while having a responsibility at work. Aldi, Winton, and Jurizka faced their own challenges presented by the different cultures of each country. Before coming to Shanghai, Aldi has been well informed by the previous colleague who had just returned from an assignment to China, especially about the language barriers and the social media restrictions. Being prepared for that, he took a Mandarin lesson before coming to Shanghai. At work, communication with the locals was not that difficult. While the meetings are normally conducted in Chinese language, whenever Aldi participated in the meeting, they quickly change the communication into English, which made him feel included. However, while verbal communication is somehow manageable, the written communication is a different story. Having to work with excel sheets written in Mandarin was not something he was prepared to face :). Fortunately, he was helped by an intern to translate the documents.
Jurizka was lucky because she did not have to worry about the language barriers, but she had been worried about being “different”; being a Muslim Asian woman in a Western country. Upon arriving, her worries evaporated. She immediately felt relieved and excited to see that New Zealand is actually a very diverse and multicultural nation and the same diversity is reflected in the office. She instantly felt like she was no different than her other co-workers and could really appreciate the inclusive behavior shown by her colleagues. She let the team know that she will ‘disappear’ at certain times for 15 minutes each to go to the mosque, which located just 2 mins driving from the office. Everyone accepted this without any judgement and some even took some interest in her praying routine and keen to know more.
Being an ambivert, Winton felt a little out of sort when he began his journey in France. He immediately noted the difference between the work culture there and in Indonesia. In terms of his role, which had the pace of a startup but with the scope of a multinational company, Winton also had to hone his agility while adapting to the new culture of his team. The language barrier was there, too. Fortunately, his co-workers were very inclusive and even adjusted their ways of working to make Winton feel more comfortable. Meetings were also conducted in English to accommodate the non-French speaking team members. Outside his team, he needed to connect and communicate with the locals. He braved himself to engage with people outside his circle and learned to navigate the language barriers to fully immerse in the fascinating French culture.
Surprises Along the Way
How often do you get asked to send a calendar invite to have a lunch with a colleague? Being used to how easy it is to ask or join a colleague for lunch in Indonesia, Aldi was surprised to be asked to send a calendar invite to plan a casual lunch. He quickly learns that his Chinese colleagues are very committed in every thing they do and to anyone they have given their promise to, even if it’s something as simple as lunch. But, he was also surprised with the recognition shown by some of leaders he worked with. Once, a Quality Director visited his desk and commented on how well he arranged his session.
“I immediately felt appreciated and included.”
On another part of the world, an unfortunate surprise happened to Winton. His boss, who had been his mentor and who interviewed him before coming to Paris, got assigned to another position merely a few weeks after Winton started his international assignment. Thus, he had to re-introduce himself to his new boss and make some adaptation, while learning to manage the project by himself. One of the biggest challenges he learns to adapt is the very fast pace nature of his team, where any slight changes mean they have to be reintegrated very quickly.
“Adjusting to MIA’s start-up approach & ways of working (go fast, just do it & try) was a huge shift for someone like me who prefer to assess, clarify, and take a calculated risk. But, once I embraced the change, I was able to see the beauty of it.”
Be Brave to Take the Risk to Grow
The international assignment had taught them many things.
“To make your dream happen, you have to let others know. Do your best and show your interest, because your boss is not a mind reader.”
When the opportunities presented to you, say yes and be brave to take the risk.
For Winton, it changed his mind and stretches his leadership skills: to not be afraid to challenge himself and other people also to have a critical thinking. This experience shaped him to have the capability to challenge ideas and its objective in order for it to deliver the best results. It also made him more appreciative towards the friendship Indonesians have and not to take it for granted.
Being accustomed to going home rather late back in Indonesia, one thing Jurizka learns from her international exposure is that work life balance is something that you have to create. It’s about creating a schedule that works for you. It is more about having the flexibility to get things done in your professional life while still having time and energy to enjoy your personal life and fulfill your commitment to your family. She thought that it is such a precious lesson that she would not get if she had not been brave enough to accept her international assignment.
Personal growth comes through different routes. Successful personal growth requires motivation, the desire to improve, and the willingness to strive to make changes. These three Danoners show that when you are willing to get out of your comfort zone, and sometimes, do things that are uncomfortable, the journey will take you to new heights.
“Collect your courage and be brave. Our fear is only in our brain.”