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From New York City to Berne

From Karin Frei | 20.10.2017 | 0 Comments

What is it like working in Switzerland as an American citizen? What differences are there between the working environments in New York City and Berne? Media tells us about the differences she has found between New York City and Berne, and how her global team work together at Swiss Post Solutions.

Media, please briefly introduce yourself.

I am an American expat working in the Global Human Resources team at Swiss Post Solutions in Berne. While originally from Atlanta, Georgia, I lived in New York for approximately 9 years prior to moving to Switzerland and previously worked for the local HR department at the Swiss Post Solutions headquarters in Manhattan.

How has your position in Human Resources changed from working for the local HR department in New York versus the Global HR team?

When working for the local HR department, I was much more connected to the employees. I was more involved with employee benefits (health insurance, fringe benefits, etc.) as well as general HR consulting.In the Global HR team, I am much more involved with implementing and facilitating various HR projects and initiatives.

So is your team now based entirely in Berne, Switzerland?

Not exactly. There are five of us altogether: two in Bern, one in Zurich, and two in the UK. Being in such an international team is very interesting. We work very well together but deciding on scheduling and topics requires flexibility.

What is it like to collaborate across borders?

Surprisingly easy. Of course, relying on technology rather than face-to-face meetings sometimes poses challenges, but in general, it is great that we’re able to share ideas and tasks across borders.

Aside from your Global HR team, do you have contact with the other HR departments within SPS?

Yes, very often. We hold monthly calls (either via Skype or Telepresence) with a few HR representatives in the various countries. This allows us to discuss any current topics, answer questions, and stay informed about local situations (organizational changes, local employment regulation changes, necessary recruitment support, etc.).

For some of the countries further afield, we have to be more aware of the time difference and therefore schedule calls more when necessary.

What is different about working in Switzerland versus working in the US?

Well, I think office cultures differ from company to company regardless of where you are, but there are several major differences. In the US, there are no employment contracts so that was a huge difference. There are also differences in the office itself – I had to adjust to not having air conditioning, so my first summer was a bit of a struggle.

How do you relax in your free time?

Since moving to Switzerland, I have discovered that I love hiking and camping, which I certainly never did in New York. I find it so fascinating that in just a couple of hours, you can be in the mountains or sitting by a lake. It’s incredibly relaxing.

I also enjoy travelling and exploring new cultures. I definitely try to take advantage of living in Europe and having so many diverse countries and cultures nearby.

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