5 things I understood after living and working in 5 different cities

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Written by: Ilias Jumadilov, Corporate Strategy Director at Schneider Electric

When you work in a global company, you get the opportunity to become a global person by working in different cities. In the past 17 years, I had the chance to visit my colleagues on 5 continents.

Selfie - Working in different cities

The only continent that I did not yet visit is Antarctica. We do not have Schneider Electric’s subsidiary there but we have a customer, the first zero-emission polar station equipped with our energy management solution. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to visit this customer.

Currently, I work in Hong Kong, a cosmopolitan city with the most skyscrapers in the world. Previously, my offices were in Grenoble, Moscow, Barcelona, and Almaty.

The country where I come from, Kyrgyzstan, is considered a country of nomads. I just put my nomad style at a different level and consider myself an international nomad.

So, what did I understand by living and working in 5 different places?

Each country believes it’s unique and different

Working in different cities

And yes, they are! In some essence, it is true as we have different cultures and backgrounds. By visiting so many different cities in the past years, I’ve heard from almost each sales rep that their country is unique and global processes can not be applied to them.

In the end, after a while, through customer visits and several interviews, we discovered that customer relations, sales reps approach, market segmentations are very similar worldwide. Global processes work, and they need limited customization by country.

Working in different cities is like working in different companies

We live in an era where it’s rare to work for the same company for over 15-20 years. When I was visiting Japan some years ago, I met some of my colleagues that worked in the same company for over 20 years. They could not change it as it was not well perceived. One of them was particularly not happy with what he was doing.

I can’t imagine myself working in the same place and position for many years unless I fall in love with what I do.  Over the past 17 years in Schneider, I changed 5 cities, and I considered that somehow I’ve changed 5 companies. Each time, being in a very different environment, culture, language, I am getting a completely new experience and that fresh, exciting anticipation of the unknown.

So I guess, if you feel stuck in the same company, changing geography is can be a good option.

Each time, being in a very different environment, culture, language, I am getting a completely new experience and that fresh, exciting anticipation of the unknown.

Changing cities is good for your salary and opens more opportunities

I know this topic is very much taboo, but changing the country as your new working location can be a great opportunity to discuss your current reward package. At the same time, it can open up many more potential positions for you.

The world is big and small at the same time

While you travel, you can see how globalized we have become. In fact, you will find again your lifestyle with minimum changes in any countries and cities. I could always find Starbucks at the corner to get my Chai Tea Latte or Massimo Dutti to buy a new shirt in each country I have worked. It is both good and bad, as every culture becomes less and less unique.

But the most striking thing is not our shopping or dining experience, but the omnipresence of global problems, such as climate change or poor air quality. Even by traveling to different cities, we can no longer avoid these problems. They are global, they are for all humans. And at some point, by being in so many places you’ll realize how fragile our planet is. In this case, we are not Kyrgyz, French, Russian, or Americans, we are humans, part of humanity that need to solve humanity’s problems.

Country is loved by you thanks to the emotions you experience in it rather than the country itself

If I recall which countries or cities I liked the most, I could not choose one at all. I realized it was always the people I met, the emotions I have experienced that make the place memorable.

When I say people, I meant roughly the 10 people that I met in different cities regularly. For sure, we know way more people during the 4-5 years stay in a foreign country. But what makes your stay special is the few people you have become soulmates and you truly love.
Although it may sound strange, it does not matter how many people are in that foreign country or how different they are from you. What matters is you find your 10 soulmates and enjoy your life.

Working in 5 different countries in 17 years

I think people that can discover this planet from different angles are the lucky ones, Yet, at the same time, they have the duty to make this world more connected, have less prejudice, and bridge people’s minds to solve global problems. I am profoundly grateful for what I have understood and could do during my 17 years of work in 5 cities.

Lastly, let me tell you a fun fact. Do you know that our body renews completely at cell level every 7 years? So I guess, I am partially Kyrgyz, Russian, French, Spanish, Kazakh, and Chinese now, not only mentally but also at a physical level.

You can join Schneider Electric all over the world! Visit our careers site and find a job opportunity and a location that suits you! www.se.com/careers We’re hiring!

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