Residential

From the Rocky Mountains to the French Alps

Ed Jarvis, Thought Leadership Manager for Power Systems, grew up in Minnesota and Colorado. “A writer at heart,” he loves traveling the world with his wife. He joined Schneider through an acquisition of the company he was working for in 2011. Since that day, Ed stayed with the company but left the U.S. to make a home in France.

Natalia Pachón: How has your career evolved since the day you joined the company?

Ed Jarvis: I was working for a much smaller company that was acquired by Schneider Electric. I began there as a Technical Writer on a product development team that made software for utility companies. Shortly after the acquisition, Schneider’s leadership team visited us in Fort Collins, Colorado. They had a series of interesting messages to share, including that within this multinational organization, “all things were possible,” including a strong internal mobility program.

This was music to my ears because as much as I treasure the Colorado lifestyle, my wife and I love traveling. We had often discussed how we could one day work abroad, in order to be closer to the many places on our long list of must-visit destinations.

After gaining access to Schneider’s vast internal job network, I discovered some attractive openings and applied for one in France. That’s how it started.

I took a different type of role on a marketing communications team in Grenoble, France, in the heart of the Alps, in which I was responsible for the content development and editorial content management for one of our global business units. After serveral years in that position, I accepted a new challenge, also in France: Managing the thought leadership activities for our Power Systems division. What does that mean? It’s a fun combination of storytelling, message crafting, planning our editorial communication strategy, and press, analyst, and influencer relations.

NP: So far, two countries. Do you have a favorite?

EJ: Apples and oranges. What’s more interesting is understanding the context. One thing living abroad has taught me is that you sometimes don’t realize the extent to which you belong to your own culture until you’re away from it for a long time.

Coming to deeply know how your own culture and set of experiences affects the way you perceive everything, how you react to things, how you set expectations. Learning to adapt means you have to adjust habits and make room in your brain for dealing with change. I like the flexibility that this requires you to develop. It’s not always easy, but it’s good exercise.

One thing that’s eased the transition for me is the similarity between Grenoble and the Colorado Front Range: outdoor lifestyle, environmentally-minded attitudes, an abundance of universities, and a strong focus on engineering and technology.

NP: What is the first thing that you do when you move into a new home?

EJ: I’m a project-oriented, ‘DIY-ish’ kind of guy so I make sure there’s a good space for what I like to do. The other high priority is light. The right atmosphere is essential.

Learning to adapt means you have to adjust habits and make room in your brain for dealing with change. I like the flexibility that this requires you to develop. It’s not always easy, but it’s good exercise.

NP: What are some of your favorite moments of your career?

EJ: My colleagues will tell you that I’m obsessed with quality, so when I see something we’ve built have the right effect on a target audience, I find that rewarding. Maybe that’s the popularity of a new white paper, or maybe it’s the strong engagement of experts in a panel discussion, or the applause following an executive presentation, or interested journalists asking the right questions after a press conference, or good coverage in a magazine or an industry report. I also enjoy seeing the measurable impact my work has across our large organization and the way it cascades from our global team to our country organizations, where it’s probably even more important.

NP: What are some of your fondest memories of growing up?

EJ: My favorite things were our family canoe trips we took every summer in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota, and visiting my grandparents’ farm on weekends and holidays. Riding bikes with friends all over our suburban-Minneapolis town and beyond for the entire summer (the only rule was to be home by dark).

Another vivid and favorite memory is the first time I saw the Rocky Mountains when I moved from Minnesota to Colorado as a teenager. That made a powerful impression and only expanded my love of the outdoors.

NP: What does home mean to you?

EJ: To me, home is an idea, it is a concept that means relaxation and comfort. It is the place where you have those relationships that mean the most. I’ve only been living abroad for six years or so, so to some extent home is also still a place for me because I do miss Colorado from time to time.

To me, home is an idea, it is a concept that means relaxation and comfort. It is the place where you have those relationships that mean the most.

NP: At the end of the day, do you have a place at home where you always feel more at home?

EJ: At the end of the day, that’s being in my living room with my wife and my dog and a good book. Or even a bad book that I’m hoping will get better in the next chapter.

NP: What do you normally do for Christmas?

EJ: Once nice thing about living in France is that many people like to visit. I find that Americans are especially enamored of this place. We’ve happily entertained a regular stream of friends and family over the years, spending most Christmases together. Some years, however, my wife and I do ‘opt out’ entirely and head for a new destination. Last year, for example we finally visited Jordan, including Petra and the strikingly beautiful desert of Wadi Rum.

NP: What do you want for Christmas?

EJ: Another year of good health for my family, myself, and my little cocker spaniel – that fine animal.

…you have tremendous opportunities for professional growth…If you dedicate yourself, decide on a direction, and set goals, then you have a real chance of getting there.

NP: If I would ask you to choose three words to define what it is like to work at Schneider, what words would you choose and why?

EJ: For me, the three words would be possibilities, ownership, and community. I say ‘possibilities’ because at Schneider, you have tremendous opportunities for professional growth, which I have experienced myself.

If you dedicate yourself, decide on a direction, and set goals, then you have a real chance of getting there.

The second is ‘ownership.’ One motto we have is to ‘act like owners.’ These are not hollow words. You feel that sense of ownership every day, and it’s rewarded. You have a true stake, which you can often shape, plus you see others acting like owners, which sets a positive tone. In the end it means better quality, better work, and a better work environment.

The third is ‘community.’ Excellent people work here. My relationships and interactions with colleagues and the larger Schneider community are the single best part of my job. I have some truly wonderful coworkers who make me laugh. As a team we accomplish a great deal.

NP: Do you have any cravings from back home? Any guilty pleasures?

EJ: Oh, yes. It’s the little things. Like for many expats, it’s the food you miss. Or in my case the junk food. American candy: cinnamon fire jolly ranchers, blow pops, hot tamales. My dentist loves me. And Mexican food. The French interpretation of Mexican food is not among those contextual adjustments I’ve successfully made, and I’m afraid there’s little hope.

This blog post is part of  the series ‘What Does ‘Home’ Mean to You?’, created to understand the concept of home and its meaning by discovering the unique stories of expatriate employees located in China, France and the United States. They all have left their native countries to start a life in foreign lands and to build a home outside their own. To know more about the series, visit the other entries below:


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