“Professionally I had gained so much experience working on global projects under a lot of pressure during the GFC. It was invaluable,” says Jane Hollman of her life in New York City, where she lived and worked from 2008-2012. “Personally, I was more independent (if that is possible) and I came back wanting to have the experience again at some point. I also came back with a much wider world view both personally and professionally.”
Jane is a strategic human resources executive and coach with 25 years’ experience, a world traveler, and an avid runner. She spent five years in New York City working in senior HR leadership roles, helming human capital strategy at the likes of MasterCard and American Express.
She made her international move abroad with the same sense of adventure and resilience familiar to many expats who choose to live an international life, and the same resolute sense of purpose that expats often travel with.
“I went overseas to work,” says Jane. “I wanted the experience of living in NYC and went there without a job. The experience of living in another country was really challenging. It was also professionally challenging trying to get used to the American work culture. Initially making friends was hard. Also just setting yourself up. It’s hard to do when you don’t know how local processes work.”
However, five years in the city saw Jane adjust to New York life, while she also explored the US, Europe and Canada, and enjoyed running in as many New York Road Runners races as she could.
The return home to Melbourne, while equally challenging, brought new obstacles to overcome – obstacles that almost prompted her to move back to New York City. “It was weird,” says Jane. “Very weird.”
“I had changed but it felt like everything else had stayed the same. I also had some reverse culture shock because things didn’t work the same way back home that I was used to in the US.”
What was the most difficult, however, was the job hunt. “I didn’t work for a year. I had both recruiters and companies openly saying I had no relevant local experience. It was an odd feeling being rejected by your own country.”
Jane has now been resettled in Australia for six years, but keeps her connection to the US. “I miss my US friends and keep in touch with them via text, social media and visiting, she adds. “I also obsessively follow the US news and I’m still obsessed with American football.”