working abroad | london | change consultant

Emma is one of my dearest friends, I first met Emma when she interviewed me for a part time position when I was still studying. Since then, we have become great friends. Emma is someone I have always looked up to, someone who has taught me some great skills in people management and business ethics. Emma is super successful in everything she does, will give 110% and is no surprise she is very passionate towards her career. And she is not afraid to dream big and strive for those dreams. Having packed her bags over 12 months ago and head for the glorious UK – Emma’s story is continuing to develop and grow. But for now, she has some outstanding advice and even better stories to tell….

Emma Holmes | Change Management

Brief description of your role overseas:
After working in Human Resources roles for the past 10 years I have recently moved into a Change Consultant position with a global communications company. My current role still sits within the Human Resource function, working closely with the business on large transformation projects where there is significant people change required.

So… what do you actually do?
I live in central London so my day starts on the tube for a short ride to Oxford Circus, where I need to change lines. However, rather than facing the dreaded central line in peak hour (think way too many people and way too little room) I choose to walk 35 minutes through the centre of London to arrive at work by 830 am. The walk is great, you see the red buses, the shops along Oxford Street, people dressed in crazy outfits and I eventually arrive just outside St Pauls Cathedral where my office is. Yes there are hundreds of people you are navigating through on the street but it reminds me of where I am and puts everything into a great perspective.  Favourite Italian coffee in hand, I sit down to work through my to-do list for the day. The exciting thing about working in London for a global communications company employing 100,000 people is that you are faced with a breadth of fantastic challenges from a diverse range of counties every day. 9 am – Once checking emails, I may be on a global call at to discuss the communications plan for the project, this includes thinking strategically about what we need to communicate to the teams and how we will deliver a message to keep them engaged through the restructure and new way of working. 10 am – I have a meeting with union representative to ensure changes we are making (which could include roles ceasing) are managed in accordance with our employees legal rights. Employee relations can be confrontational. However, by being prepared and knowing legal requirement for the country you are operating in makes all the difference. I have quickly learnt that making employee changes in a country such as Germany is very different to Australia! 11 am – Working on the change management project plan from a people perspective. It’s important to have a great implementation plan co-created with the business, bringing together the business demands and people requirements. I spend a lot of time working through how we will implement the change tactically whilst keeping the overall business strategy in place. 1 pm – Lunch break. To be honest I don’t always have time for a lunch break but if I do the great thing about working in central London is the shopping. Literally there are hundreds of amazing store directly outside your door… dangerous. 130 pm – Writing a managers briefing pack. As part of working on change projects and within human resources you are quite often working on collateral to help support managers in leading their team. This type of document for example, will outline the manager’s responsibilities in the change and offer advice for how to best engage their teams whilst working through the transformation. 330 pm – Conducting interviews. The great thing about my current role is that I get to operate at a strategic level for most of the time but also get to roll my sleeves up and help with operational activities such as interviews. During a restructure new roles may be created and its paramount that we select the best candidate to drive the business strategy forward. 5pm – Global project plan conference call. The biggest difference in this role for me has been working across a global team, which involves different time zones and working really closely with people that you never meet face to face. We have regular project plan calls to make sure everyone is tracking along and the milestones are being achieved. 6pm – Home time. Working in central London there is something to do every night of the week. London has everything on offer, from the weird to the wonderful. Sometimes I may meet a friend for drinks at cocktail bar, go to a show or visit a museum at night. Being overseas for a limited amount of time I want to make the most of it!


What made you decide to work overseas? Has this always been a passion of yours?
Yes, I have always wanted to work overseas. My advice is – do it! The experience and exposure you gain in a different country is invaluable.

Have your found working overseas to help your career opportunities?
Yes, working in Human Resources I know that employers in Australia love to see candidates who have gained experience overseas. It’s attractive because it shows you are happy to face a new challenge and stretch yourself. They are also thinking, “What has this person learnt from overseas markets that I can leverage in my business”.

I would encourage anyone working overseas to get involved as much as you can with whatever part of your role fascinates you. I love career development, mentoring and talent management. On the back of this, I contacted David Clutterbuck, an international leader in coaching and mentoring. I had seen David at a conference in Melbourne and knew he lived in the UK. Guess what? Once I emailed him he wrote back and offered some great advice on the topic. He was also running webinars that he invited me to attend (free!) which were great.

What do/did you love about working overseas?
Travel. Seriously, you can pop to Barcelona for the weekend for $100. It’s awesome. Also the people you meet. London is a melting pot of cultures and you encounter fantastic people from all over the world.

I also love the opportunities London has opened for me and my career. I’ve worked for a charity, a marketing firm and now a global communications company. I’ve developed a whole new skill set and tested my ability to work in a global area. It’s been challenging and very rewarding.


Over your career, what has been your ‘love this’ moment?
I was in a business meeting last week in Amsterdam and looked around the table to notice each person was from a different country. The Netherlands, UK, Italy, Spain, the US and me! Developing the skill set to be confident to contribute on a global change project has made me feel really great.

What would be the least favourite aspect of working overseas?
The biggest challenge so far has been leaving my friends and family at home to follow my dreams. It’s really important to me that I make the time each week to call home and keep up to date with everyone and still be a part of their lives.   

Any advice for anyone aspiring to work overseas?
The best advice I can offer is go for it! For somewhere like London there is so much work available but there are also a lot of talented candidates! You need to make yourself stand out. My advice from a recruitment point of view is to build relationships with recruiters. London vacancies are mainly handled by recruitment companies. Make appointments to see these people. I literally spend a day directly emailing relevant recruiters and introducing myself. LinkedIn is a great vehicle for this. Ensuring you have a great online presence is also really important.

As soon as I was in front of recruiters face to face they could see how passionate I was and the interviews started immediately!

Also, be prepared to take a role that may be at a slightly lower level than you are now. Getting your foot in the door is really important and you are much more employable when you have a job.


What a great story and career journey! Any questions for Emma? Please join the conversation below…

Leave a Comment