When you think of adidas as an employer, you probably have an international environment and exciting opportunities in mind. If that is the case, we have something in common.
As a recruiter, I am in touch with people from different backgrounds on a daily basis to hear their stories – be it about inspiring travels, extraordinary hobbies, or exciting career paths.
I spend a lot of time understanding business challenges and finding the right talents to tackle them. One of these challenges is grasping the complexities of working across various countries. This topic awakened my interest: What is so special about it? How do people benefit from knowing what (working) life is like in different parts of the world? I wanted to understand. More than that: I wanted the real experience!
And so my mind started wandering: I already saw myself watching a basketball match in New York or sipping sangria by the beach in Portugal and got more and more excited about the whole idea. Soon afterwards my manager asked me: “So… what do you think about working in Dubai?”
I really wasn’t sure what to expect at first. But I knew I wanted to get out and explore, so the decision was easy. Two weeks later, the adventure of a three-month assignment in Dubai began. That was different for sure, but I got used to it quicker than I thought.
Jumping into the unknown
Dubai is a great city, and I had a lot of fun. My personal highlight was a skydive over the famous Palm Jumeirah. But was I out of my comfort zone? Hell, yeah. I found myself in a completely different work environment to what I was used to – new colleagues and business partners, unfamiliar areas to recruit for, new office location and, of course, culture.
At adidas we are passionate about diversity. It cannot get more diverse than the Middle East: With over 80 percent of expats in the United Arab Emirates alone, it is a true melting pot of nationalities and cultures.
Many things took me by surprise: For example, in Dubai, the clocks tick differently than in Germany: The Emirati culture is more relaxed and timetables are not as important. As a response to a meeting request, you might hear “en shallah,” which translates to “if God wills.”
Starting from scratch
One of the challenges the team and I had was supporting the opening of our adidas office in Morocco. It was all brand new – the building did not even have electricity yet when we kicked off with the basics: hiring the first management assistant, facilities specialist, and accountant. We also worked on ground on employer branding and engaging our new retail staff.
Our recruitment strategy for this new location was quite experimental. We had to find our own way of making it work – and we did! It was fun, not least as I had an amazing team of smart and enthusiastic people around me. It could not have been a better learning experience.
Richer for the experience
During this period, I got a feeling for how a market office works and what kind of local challenges people face. I was pleased to see that, despite all the differences, you could still feel our distinct adidas culture when it comes to passion for the product, for example, or the way people interact with each other.
Even though we are essentially part of the same department, the teams in Dubai and at our headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, in some parts have different approaches to systems, processes, and communications. I was proud to introduce some HQ learnings to the Dubai team, but I also came back with new ideas to share, so we can become even better at what we do.
The international assignment was absolutely worth it! I am truly grateful for having had the chance of this experience. With so many new impressions, I am inspired to stretch out of my comfort zone again soon. En shallah.
It might be scary at first, but it’s the best way to learn about the business, different working styles, and last but not least – yourself.
Don’t forget to answer these questions before moving abroad
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