In June 2016 we piloted a new initiative; the Edelman Exchange Program, within our Europe region. The 4 week program enabled Ailsa Renton (Account Manager, London) and Lara Luten (Senior Account Manager, Amsterdam) to swap teams, offices and cities for one month. The initiative was developed to give our people an additional development opportunity that would further their client work, their Edelman network and of course, their careers. We sat down with Ailsa and Lara for a quick Q&A on their experience:
How did you prepare for the Edelman Exchange Program?
A: I spoke with everyone in the office anyone could put me in touch with and asked about the culture, what I could expect and their day-to-day roles. My Edelswap Lara was wondering the same things…so we spoke often!
L: By talking with colleagues in the London office including my swap buddy Ailsa, reading their blog posts and by reading more about their clients. I identified some ‘research questions’ with my Amsterdam team that helped me to get the desired insights during my time in London.
What did you hope to gain from the experience?
A: A better understanding of the Edelman network and how we work, as well as the confidence in embracing a new office and being able to bring home insights we could learn from their work and processes.
L: I was looking for an opportunity to apply my expertise in a different way and to learn about matters that vary by market. This will support my work and improve my skills as a client advisor, especially when working on global projects with multi-market elements.
What exposure did you get to the host office projects and/or clients?
A: I was lucky enough to be exposed to their multi-nationals and able to lead on smaller projects for their Dutch clients. I supported on RFPs, hopefully providing some of the British insight or processes they were hoping for and drafted content that wouldn’t have fallen under my responsibilities in London. I was exposed to the Edelman Amsterdam daily routine life from Day 1.
L: I had the opportunity to contribute to some of the client projects, from new business projects and brainstorms to existing clients. In addition, I had the chance to speak with a lot of the experts in the London office, which was great, since the scale of their projects is often different to the scale of the projects in the Amsterdam office. Finally, I was able to attend the award-winning Edelman client party, which was amazing!
Did you find it easy to integrate into your new office?
A: Absolutely. There is definitely an Edelculture and only a few hours were needed to settle in. Admittedly I felt totally overwhelmed and completely lost in Amsterdam for the first few days, however there was always someone from the office willing to help! The Amsterdam team embraced the swap and embraced me better than I could possibly have imagined or asked for.
L: Within a few days, I already felt comfortable within my new office and hometown. The Edelfam members seem to all have the same open mind-set, passion and commitment, regardless the location. What definitely helped was having my own apartment – I truly felt like a London citizen for a month.
How did you use your weekends to explore the host city?
A: Drowning in culture – late nights at museums, sitting on bean bags watching concerts in Concertgebouw, cycling around the canals and getting lost in the city. On making friends, they showed me around their favourite spots, took me to festivals and helped me to tick all the boxes my Edelswap Lara had left me to complete (not that I’m competitive!).
L: I usually woke up very early and just started to walk around, or bike around (as I couldn’t ignore my Dutch habits)! I discovered a lot of parts of the city. A city that kept surprising me and is amazing in terms of people, sightseeing, food, culture and nature.
How will your experience benefit your client work and Edelman network moving forward?
A: I’ve been involved in different ways of working and thought processes, broadened my client experience and project work as well as widened my network of colleagues to call on and specialists to reach out to. More broadly speaking I feel more confident in what I and Edelman have to offer and look forward to demonstrating that offering to clients.
L: This experience definitely gave me a broader perspective on societal developments and client projects. In addition, it expanded my Edelman network enormously and gave me a better idea of what Edelman can offer its clients. Moving forward, my teams and projects will most likely benefit from this.
What advice would you give to colleagues wanting to participate in future Edelman Exchange Programs?
A: Just go for it. Initially a month felt like too short a time to get to know a city, its culture, an office, the colleagues, their clients, projects and ways of working, however I was so wrong. That said, you have to be proactive and make the most of the experience – say yes to everything and just roll with it even if you have no idea what’s in store for you.
L: Be prepared and ready to get the full experience in the host office, both professionally and personally. Work hard, play hard!
Best Edelventure memory?
A: The whole office on a canal boat. It was a great opportunity to chat to everyone outside of the office as well as being shown the true tour of Amsterdam. The cheap bars and shotjes afterwards were probably an unnecessary extension of that tour.
L: Rather the most interesting: definitely BREXIT on my fifth day in London!