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Julie reflects on moving from London to Bangalore with Diageo

Julie reflects on moving from London to Bangalore with Diageo

 February 18, 2019

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Julie Bramham, CMO at Diageo (USL), India, has shared her musings on relocating to a new continent for an exciting opportunity with a global business.

Starting a new life away from her original base in London was always a possibility for Julie when she embarked upon a career with Diageo – and now she has offered her thoughts on making that step and experiencing an adventure of a lifetime.

“When I was offered the CMO role in India I knew it would be a big change, a big challenge and a big adventure,” says Julie.

“I would need to uproot my young family and a husband with a career and move halfway across the world, away from friends and family. We didn’t have a network in India, in fact just knew literally two people there, and had never even visited.”

Why did Julie decide to make the move?

Various elements contributed to Julie’s decision to relocate. Firstly, she felt that the professional development opportunity was huge as she was being offered the chance to build iconic brands in Diageo’s second biggest market by volume.

“More importantly, I think I just felt that it was my time, and critically that it would be a life experience for all of my family,” she added.

“In the past I suspect I would have found reasons to not go, perhaps masking an underlying level of self-doubt about my ability to do a great job. But on the back of some personal change, and with huge support from Diageo and some firm advice from a mentor, we unleashed our spirit of adventure and decided to go for it.”

Some reflections on the experience so far

Below, are some of Julie’s observations on what it means to relocate and her top tips for women considering a similar journey.

Leadership is leadership no matter where you are in the world. “Leaders need to know and understand their style and how to flex it for a new culture, but ultimately to be an authentic leader, the core values are the same no matter where you are,” explains Julie. “People are the most important success factor, work to build trust and create an environment where people can do the work of their careers, where they are open, honest and feel empowered to speak their minds. This is even more important in cultures that you are less familiar with.”

Culture is king. “Both getting an understanding of the country culture and business culture is critical in order to understand the impact you will have as a leader. I underestimated how different the work culture would be – it’s the same business but culturally different in many ways,” she adds. “Read as much as you can on country culture, there are loads of books on the subject. Also identify a couple of mentors who will be honest with you to help you find your way and give you feedback on the impact you are having.”

Great marketing transcends geographical borders. “I have been able to apply most of my marketing knowledge and experience directly in this role, and fundamentally believe that most consumer insights are human truths and as relevant in Iceland as they are in India,” says Julie. “However, how you apply it to your product/brand should always be in the context and understanding cultural nuance is critical. This is hard to ‘learn’, so surrounding yourself with a team who can lead cultural thinking is key.”

Expect exhilaration and exhaustion in equal measures. Julie says: “I get so much energy from exploring new places, meeting new people and being in a different part of the world, and to do that professionally as well as personally is an exhilarating experience and I have no doubt that will continue. However, the first 6 months are also exhausting, the professional learning curve is steep, and you are starting from scratch in almost parts of life.”

You rarely regret the things you do (vs those that you don’t). “My view is that everyone has a ‘right time’ but don’t wait until you feel totally ready, certainly in our case I’m not sure we ever would have felt totally ready,” adds Julie. “It would have been easy to talk ourselves out of it given the disruption and level of change, so my learning is to let instincts prevail and let the little voice be heard over the loud voice!”

Experience an international career with Diageo like Julie

Although relocating is never easy, Julie has no regrets and is finding her experience truly enriching. As one of the leading alcohol beverages companies, Diageo offers a wide range of opportunities to talented women. Could you join the team? Learn more and and apply today.

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