Posted on April 2015 By Jack Bland
Whether you call Australia home and have moved overseas to pursue a SAP career or you’ve traveled across the globe to Australia or New Zealand for a new SAP opportunity, there are definitely benefits and indeed opportunities to travel with a SAP career.
The decision can be a tough one, with many factors to consider such as family, visas and language barriers but many of these potential drawbacks are counteracted by the promise of great benefits like travel, new friends and extensive career prospects.
For Adam Waring and his partner Cara, a recent decision to take their skills abroad had been bubbling in the background for around a decade. Finding they always had other projects to focus on, it wasn’t until they felt they’d both reached the heights of their careers, combined with social factors such as their friends settling down to start families, that they felt like the time was right to look for new and fresh challenges.
They found choosing a new country was no easy task. While they both dreamed of living in Europe, being in a technical role meant that working in an English-speaking office was a requirement for them. With neither Adam nor Cara having access to an international passport, the E-3 Visa for America seemed like their best chance.
USA-bound in just a month, Adam says he expects to find a job semi-easily in the US. “I’m very experienced but SAP Security roles don’t come around all that often. I was worried about being away from the Australian SAP market and falling out of touch, but I feel like I know enough people to be able to break back in. Also, including some US firms on my resume can’t hurt, especially considering American companies need far more stringent security than Australian firms.”
There is no doubt that such a move requires planning and preparation and that establishing yourself in a new country, both professionally and socially, has its challenges but, for every benefit, there is an upshot and international experiences both personal and professional are invaluable.
Below are two personal accounts of both the challenges and benefits of crossing the globe for a SAP career. Steve Young, an Aussie, chose to be based in Spain and London and Paul Randall, an Englishman, chose Australia after time in both the UK and Europe.
You’ve travelled for work in the past – could you set the scene (where you lived, where you travelled to, why you took the role)
The first five years of my career were spent with a consulting company in their SAP practice in Sydney. Having built my basic SAP skills, I left Australia to spend a year living, travelling and working abroad. I didn’t have a role lined up but was fortunate enough to be able to take a leave of absence from my employer here. I briefly set up in London to find work, but ended up finding a role with another consulting company in Barcelona. The choice between London and Barcelona was easy, although I eventually ended up moving to the UK and working there too. My employer in Spain had set up an SCM/APO centre of competence in Barcelona that served their projects all over Europe, so it was a great opportunity to build my APO skills while working with teams across the continent.
Being from the UK, I’ve travelled extensively throughout Europe for over 15 years, working on local and global SAP implementations. European projects are usually Monday to Friday on client site, sometimes working from home on Fridays was accepted but generally I was home weekends only. As you’d expect, European projects are often set in cities and towns, so living out of a hotel is normal. The biggest change to this way of life was accepting a two-year contract in Perth, Australia, working within the resources industry. This involved applying for a business visa, renting out our house and moving my family half way round the world. It was a huge change in both working and family environments and represented an exciting challenge. Australia had always been a country I had wanted to visit, so getting the chance to be there for two years was fantastic…though my wife needed a little encouragement!
When it was time to return home, how did you find that your time abroad helped your career?
SY: I believe working in such a large SAP market as the UK and Europe allowed me to develop niche skills that may be in less demand here, but set you apart from other candidates – especially if a potential employer is looking for those skills. I also value the exposure pan-European projects gave me to such a wide variety of work cultures.
PR: Travelling means you meet new people, experience different cultures and gain exposure to different industries and environments. The more experience and exposure gained, the more attractive my CV became to potential employers
What were the challenges of working abroad?
SY: The obvious one is language. While being a native English speaker is an immense advantage, it is only of limited use when trying to communicate socially or outside of work in non-English speaking countries. Getting set up in a new country can also be tricky – especially bank accounts!
PR: Moving my family, settling in somewhere completely new a long way from home.
What were the benefits of working abroad?
SY: It exposed me to opportunities I may have not had otherwise both in work as well as life. For those interested in travel and exploration, Europe is an excellent base, especially if you can travel with work.
PR: Gaining exposure to different cultures and environments, which broadens your life skills.
Would you travel overseas for work in the future? Why?
SY: Possibly, so long as it offered new experiences and worked with other commitments, of which I had fewer in the past.
PR: It would depend on the position and where the job is. My youngest son will be starting his second year in high school later this year, so his stability and education are at a more crucial stage than when we travelled to Australia nearly four years ago.
What advice would you give to someone considering working abroad?
If you are entitled to a foreign passport, take full advantage of it.
Get yourself known by recruiters in a major recruitment hub like London, even if you’re looking to go elsewhere.
Do as much as you can to develop your language skills, even if you can’t get to a level you could use in a business environment.
PR: Do your homework! Other than the normal sorts of things you’d need to think about for the actual role, make sure you research the culture/area where you are going to be living. We didn’t expect Australia to be as expensive as it was when we arrived. We hadn’t done our homework, so things like the cost of living and renting a home came as a shock to us. If we’d done our research we’d have been better prepared.
We would like to thank Adam Waring, Steve Young and Paul Randall for their contributions to this blog