Feeling lucky in a new country

Having started working in my thirteenth country, it made me reflect on what makes such a transition a productive, even a ‘happy’ one.

"It is the country doing you a favour by allowing you to work there. It is the organisation you work for giving you the opportunity to be part of something."
Tareq Mahmood, CEO Korea & MD GSG, IIB, ANZ

It is the same factors which impacts happy transition into a new company, and in many cases – a new friendship.

I will keep this simple and get to the point.

For me, in all my experience, what makes such a transition a happy one, is to always remember that 'I am the lucky one'.

It is the country doing you a favour by allowing you to work there. It is the organisation you work for giving you the opportunity to be part of something. It is the person you meet giving you the chance to get to know them.

That translates into the work you do: it is a new challenge, a revealing new culture, an interesting experience, a real opportunity – one which can bring you satisfaction and value for organisation.

How did I reach this conclusion? Here is one of the experiences I had…

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I was working in one emerging market a few years ago, and a new CEO arrived (from a competitor bank). A couple of weeks later, we arranged to meet for breakfast.

It was one of the most unpleasant meetings I have had in my career. This CEO spent 45 minutes telling me how lucky the country was to have him. How lucky his organisation was to have him. He was the one who made his organisation successful.

He probably thought I was lucky to have breakfast with him. He made me sick - and a little disturbed that such an ego could exist.

As you can imagine, his transition was pretty painful (although he may not realise it given his ego). It was clear engagement of his staff dropped significantly and the organisation he was running lost his way.

I know feeling you are the ‘lucky one’ is not always easy. Sometimes the role, the country, might not be one you have sought. It might be difficult, a hardship posting.

But I think if you are to succeed– and even come to enjoy the experience – a change in attitude is needed.

I believe if you don’t feel you are lucky then you should probably find something, someone or a country where you do!

I once had a marketing colleague who didn’t feel lucky in the job he was doing and spent a couple of precious years ‘battling’ away. He eventually left.

When I caught up with him 12 months later he had found a logistics role where he felt he was the luckiest man in the world (and looked the part!).

Let me know if you think I am way off the mark, or if you have any similar experiences.

Tareq Mahmood is CEO Korea & MD GSG, IIB at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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