Nadia feels blessed to have traveled around the world as an expat, but there is still one ingredient missing: her professional identity! While Nadia enjoys her life as mom and wife, she feels a need to use her experience adapting various new cultures, intercultural interactions and different work ethic. Now she is ready to reconnect with her professional life, and take it to a higher level, based upon the years of experience she gained living abroad.
Could you tell us about yourself and the journey that brought you to Malaysia?
I am originally from Guadeloupe, the French Caribbean, but I have been an expatriate for the last 12 years. Our expat life started out when my husband’s employer offered us to be part of the mobility program. At that time, I was working as a Senior Financial Analyst. It was a big decision to make and we talked about it a lot, but I was ready to see the world. Our first assignment was in Tunisia, where we stayed for five years. In Tunisia, I worked the first two years for a bank on a local contract, because I wanted to keep my own professional activity. I have a Master’s degree in Finance and studied for many years, so I always imagined I would work. As an educated woman, I wanted to feel like I accomplished something. However, when I got pregnant, I stopped working to raise my daughter especially as my husband was traveling a lot. After Tunisia, we set out for Hong Kong. This environment was so different, that I did not start out working right away. However, when I was just about to pick up my professional life, we were already off to our next destination: New York. I was never bothered by it because I knew that this was part of being in the mobility program and I was ready for it. Finally, two years ago, we moved to Malaysia.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My days mainly revolve around my family and that has always made me very happy. But lately I feel like there is something missing. I would like to have a professional activity in my life again. My daughter is finding her own way and it is time for me to find mine as well!
How would you describe the impact of your life as expat spouse in your professional life?
It affected my professional life in many ways. For starters, I am currently not employed. But being an expat spouse has enriched my professional life as well. Working in a completely different cultural
environment has taught me a lot. I used to work in Guadeloupe, where we had a very straightforward way of working. Then I moved to a society where everything is very laid back.
In the beginning, it was a struggle for me to adjust to this kind of work ethic. I found difficult to understand the mentality and mindset. But what I learned from my experience as expat is that I had to adjust myself to the society I was living in. I needed to take a little step back, and see how the society works. So that impacted my professional life a lot and gave me many new tools to work anywhere in the world.
It’s time for me to get my “brain cells” in working shape again! But it’s not easy and somehow you are your worst enemy! You feel disconnected and irrelevant. You talk yourself out of trying because you don’t know how to go pass this huge gap in your curriculum.
How do you manage to overcome this insecurity regarding your professional life?
When I heard about LinkMotility, I realized this was exactly what I needed! I want to reclaim my professional life but I was not sure how or where to start. It is challenging to get back out there after nine years, so I needed someone to help me on my way and LinkMotility gives me exactly the support and guidance I am looking for!
This network is something that I needed in my life. It allows me to get in touch with other women in the same situation. Women that understand each other and can give each other guidance to regain their professional identity. It also allows me to learn from working women, who have been in your shoes and were able to find their way back to their professional life. The workshops will help me update my curriculum to modern day standards and get useful tips and tools. Sometimes you just need a little push to motivate you and get you started again. And I am on board!
I know a lot of professional networks, for instance, LinkedIn. But these networks are all for working people, so I never saw the purpose of me having such a profile. LinkMotility is the step that was missing. This network does not just focus on working women but helps professional women that used to work as well. It connects these women in inspiring workshops and encourages them to discuss and exchange ideas. Therefore, LinkMotility brings me what I do not find in other professional networks: the bridge to connect me with my professional life again.
Where would you like to go in your professional life?
I have a lot of ideas and since last year, I started to look around for things I would like to do. I am leaning towards the field of culture, especially cross-cultural communications. This is something that has always had my interest. I like to interact with people from different cultures and learn about new societies. Whenever I go to a new country, I am always keen to understand their culture and way of living.
How do you measure success?
Success means being happy in what you do. It does not mean money or a high position in a company. It means being completely happy in my family life, my job and what I achieved. As an expat, I have seen
many parts of the world and now I know what success means to me. Meeting new people and interacting with different cultures is very rich and there is nothing more valuable than that.
Who is your role model and why?
My role model is my father. He is the one who always believed in me and encouraged me to study. I am what I am now, because of him. He always motivated us to give our best and taught us to be humble. Even if you are rich or famous, always be humble.
What would you say to other women who recognize themselves in your story?
Always believe in yourself and do not hesitate to turn to others for advice. You should not downgrade yourself, just because you have not worked in a while. Being an expat is a very rich experience which has taught you a lot. I only start to realize this when I talk to people, just how many things I have learned and how rich my experience is. You should not devaluate it, because all your expat life experience is a privilege that you could use to your advantage!