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!

Although I was away from my comfort zone, Dubai is a great city full of life.

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

At times I felt like I was being thrown into cold water, trying to figure out the situation.

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

First-hand experience is the best way to expand your horizons.

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

Tips and tricks from adidas employee David.

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by Bruno Bebber 16.08.2017
Great article, and great experience, indeed, when we face this kind of challenge we need to embrace it and enjoy as much as we can, both professional and personal side, we can grow a lot!
by Gabriela Moscoso 19.08.2017
Jana, this is exactly what I was willing to read more about. I had a truly amazing experience studying in the UK and going on business trips to Greece and India during that time. The diversity in my class was incredible and I learned so much, I was reassured that my decision to study outside South America was the right one.
I am now learning German and hopefully will find the right contacts to join the fantastic and inspiring team of Adidas :) If you can give some tips would be great!
by Jana Engelmann Gabriela Moscoso 23.08.2017
Hi Gabriela,
I am happy you liked the article and it seems like we share the same mindset!
If you are looking for a career in adidas, I would recommend you to check out our career site www.careers.adidas-group.com and apply directly to any roles that match your skills and interest. In case there is nothing suitable at the moment, you can also put in a job alert and be notified as soon as something comes up. You can also check out these two articles on how to succeed in a job interview/ video interview at adidas: https://www.gameplan-a.com/2015/04/4-tips-on-how-to-succeed-in-your-adidas-group-video-job-interview/
I hope this helps. All the best!
by Gabriela Moscoso Jana Engelmann 24.08.2017
Fantastic Jana!

Thanks a lot!
by Melissa Claassen 24.08.2017
This is such a great article Jana. Taking the challenge to dive into new cultures is exactly the opportunity that adidas can give to us all, if we are, as you so nicely put it, ready to get out of our comfort zone. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us and inspiring more people to grow through learning new cultures. If more people take the time to understand different cultures the world will indeed be a better place - exactly what our brand envisions!