My name is Julien. I am a Principal at Arthur D. Little, based in the Paris office, and I was fortunate enough to work for six months in our office in Seoul (Korea).
Because of my growing industry focus on airports at Arthur D. Little, I have had the opportunity to work abroad and travel to various places, such as the Middle East, India and the Caribbean islands. I felt that I needed a full-immersion experience abroad to embrace cultural differences in both my day-to-day personal life and at work, so I applied to our international mobility program.
In particular, I wanted to experience a clear cultural change from my European background, and to live in a remote area in order to avoid yielding to the temptation of monthly returns to France. I wanted to discover a completely different society, with its own specific codes and cultural habits. I also wanted to work in areas that had high economic growth rates and were at the forefront of global innovation. The choice of Seoul came almost as evidence to me.
On our arrival in Seoul, my girlfriend and I received great logistical support from the local ADL branch, especially in managing housing, which can be quite tricky because of the language barrier. Very quickly, I started to work on various projects for international clients willing to invest and expand their activities in Korea. In particular, I remember working for one of the four most important worldwide annual tennis events, which was looking to expand in Korea. Part of this project was to organize a business trip to Korea for the client’s representatives: meetings with potential partners and local tennis officials, a visit to the sites, a promotional event and a guided tour to “live” Seoul to the full in just three days. It was great fun! In addition to that, I capitalized on my previous travel and transportation experiences, supporting our local team in developing consulting projects for airports in Asia.
My Korean colleagues have been very helpful in facilitating smooth onboarding, making sure I was successfully immersing myself in the Korean consulting business environment every step of the way. Those six months in Seoul were a permanent journey. I kept my eyes wide open 24 hours a day, taking every opportunity I could to travel around, visiting countries such as Japan, Singapore the Philippines and Indonesia. At the end of my stay, I took a two-month extra vacation to further explore other parts of Asia.
In the end, this experience has been extremely rewarding for me, and challenging too. It has been quite instructive to get out of my comfort zone, break with my habits, and question my work methods, communication skills, etc. I came back more open-minded, with a better understanding of what is at stake in this country, and beyond, in Asia.