Monday, May 22, 2017

@Home

Spending time in Vienna on weekdays without having to work is still quite a novelty for me. Even in the summer of 2015 when I was on my 3-months sabbatical, I did not spend that much time in town, mainly due to the fact that the weather was particularly hot (which I loved!) and the lake in my hometown was beckoning when I was not abroad anyway. Last week, I decided to check out the recently beautified Copa Kagrana "beach" area by the Danube (pretty run-down and horrible in the past years) and found it a lovely place to read in deck chairs by the river. Thanks to strong wind which almost had you believe you were by the sea and potted palm trees, it really was a lovely spot to switch off and chill, a mere 5 subway stops from Stephansplatz. I am planning to go there more often, and also to discover other easily accessible and completely free of charge holiday-in-the-city spots.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hearsay

Above is my horoscope on my last day of (actual) work in my current job. Now that I have signed my contract for the new one, it seems that every other person knows someone who is either working there, or used to work there. It's the type of company that really is a household name (therefore this shall be its new name here, too - Household Name, HN for short). I find it quit amusing, having heard comments from both ends of the spectrum. Here are a few snippets:
Oh, I could introduce you to X if you want - she used to work there. She left because she was kind of bullied by her colleagues. 
- My neighbour worked there all his life and does not stop raving about how he loved it.
- A friend worked there and told me it was really bitchy and competitive. You know, a lot of women in leadership positions, do I need to say more...
- They're going to force you to join a union!
- You'll have to work long hours there, just be prepared.
- OMG, you'll find it so laid-back and slow. I heard that nobody is there on Fridays past lunchtime.
- I worked next door and ate in their canteen - really amazing food for canteen stuff.
- This will be tough for you, having to eat what they serve in that canteen there.
and on and on
I am determined to find out whether I like my colleagues, the food, the work-life balance, you name it myself.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Don't Listen

I know, I know, that last post was very short and pretty cryptic - sorry about that. This one is going to be a long, rambly one, so fasten your seatbelts if you are in for the ride.
So, the news, in a nutshell: I landed myself a new job that I'm pretty excited about. It's not just the change itself (after all, I celebrated my 10th anniversary at the Firm 2 weeks ago) and the fact that this will only be my 3rd employer, not counting student "McJobs" - I'm very loyal, me - but the fact that it was such a smooth experience.
As a bit of context for those who don't know me IRL - the last 1.5 years were mildly upsetting and very paradox, job-wise for me. The job-role I had before the current one was discontinued (at least in the team I worked in) and my headcount eliminated, which meant I had to find an alternative. Thankfully, I managed to transfer to the one area that I had always been keen to work in. The catch was, it was a temporary arrangement (maternity cover) and one-way ticket of sorts. Due to the fact that I was not only interested in the field, but obviously not bad at it, my manager and everyone else involved were keen on keeping me and thus we found a way to extend the deal (to the end of May to be precise) and were hoping that "something will come up". What DID come up was a massive reorganisation that thwarted all my hopes and "displaced" several people. I received the bad news 2 days before I left for my trip to New York and it was a big blow. Won't lie, I cried myself to sleep 2 nights in a row and possibly would have done so longer if said trip had not distracted me. However, if there's one role I don't want to see myself in, it is that of victim and therefore I returned to work after that trip determined that I would definitely squeeze those metaphorical lemons I had been handed into some damn tasty lemonade. Cheers!
Earlier on the day my manager told handed me the reorg bombshell, I received a voicemail from a recruiter. It was for a job I had applied for in February. Actually the first application I sent out, realising I better start looking into a Plan B before Plan A won't work out...which it didn't. I was invited for an interview the day after my return from NYC. Unfortunately, the job posting had since been deactivated and was not even to be retrieved in the cache of the platforms it was posted on. Ooops. I had only a dim recollection of what it had said...Be that as it may, the interview obviously went well and after some more weeks of silence, I received a very good offer the Friday before last. I will begin in July and since I have annual leave to use up to in my current job, I am looking forward to enjoying 7.5 weeks of summer vacation in between.
The whole experience reminded me of my first job move from Coma HQ, where I had worked for 9 years, to the Firm. Several of my colleagues at Coma HQ were frustrated and bored, but kept "reassuring" one another that it would be so difficult to find something out in the real world, since after a long time in a civil-service-ish environment nobody would want you, regardless of qualifications. Somehow, this was just the common assumption. Well, I applied for ONE job exactly and it led me to the Firm, one of the most coveted employers out there, with a notoriously rigorous interview process and an unfavourable ratio of applicants vs job offers. 
Despite it being such a prized employer, I have met my fair share of frustrated employees at the Firm during those past ten years, but they are very reluctant to move or even start looking for something else as everyone believes that they will have to work for a fraction of their salaries and will lose all the many perks and goodies they have been enjoying. I never really challenged that. Guess what - not so, at least in my case. Yes, I won't have those perks any more, but I won't have to supplement my income with a side job. Far from it. 
So, yes, I have proved the sceptics wrong twice, finding a great job with minimal effort. Whether this new one will work out for me, we shall see, but  - guess what - I have a feeling they won't tie me to my swivel chair with masking tape and I will be free to go if I don't like it.
This post has been bubbling inside me for a while and I really wanted to share my thoughts in case you have been held back by superstition or bad advice yourself. Don't listen to the sceptics, but trust your gut instinct and give it a go. If nothing comes out of it the first time, it will be a good experience and you'll rock it next time. 
A few weeks ago (before Bombshell Day) I had lunch with some colleagues and one of them asked me if I was worried with that damocles sword of being out of a job dangling over me for over a year now and I replied that, while it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences, deep down, I was very calm and confident and believed my mantra of sorts ("everything will be alright")  that was strategically placed on my work laptop:


Monday, May 01, 2017

The Future is Bright

As I am away for the long weekend when this will go live, but wanted to keep up my Monday-morning-schedule for posts here, consider this a teaser of sorts. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Coincidental

Now that I am in my final weeks at the Firm, it is only natural that I am in a bit of a retrospective mood. One of the things I will forever remain grateful for is the opportunity to get to visit countries off the tourist track and meet interesting people there, some of which have become friends. This past weekend, I was in Sofia with Mademoiselle (who could understand why I love the city). My last business trip in my previous job role took me there pretty much exactly a year ago and I missed it. I miss frequent travels to CEE and CIS overall. Be that as it may, we were having lunch on Sunday in a new restaurant next to our hotel, catching up with a Bulgarian colleague of mine, who is currently on maternity leave. Our table was right next to the door and suddenly a party of 3 (a man and 2 women) come in with a pram. Turns out I know the guy pushing the pram- a former Lithuanian (!) business partner of mine, who essentially was part of the same former life that took me to Sofia. He was just as surprised to see me and it was a crazy coincidence (it turned out he was in town for a conference and had taken his wife and baby plus a friend for the weekend), but then again it completely made sense as my business trips to Vilnius happened during that period of time when I would come to Sofia regularly and both the friend I met for lunch and that Lithuanian university professor were reminders of my not-so-distant past.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Singled Out

Do you know the feeling of having been singled out to experience something awful? Asking yourself "Why me?!"? I'd have to lie if I said I didn't, knowing all too well that like envy (which I really never experience) or jealousy (oh, yes, been there) these feelings are completely futile and destructive. When the Empress and I were in New York, we also visited the 9/11 Memorial museum on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center. As can be expected, it was very moving to relive that historical day right in its epicentre and see and hear so many sad things. It must be like the ultimate monument of WHY ME?! for everyone who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks that day.
The first quarter of 2017 has been quite weird and unexpected in many ways for me and at times my enthusiasm at the beginning of this year has seemed ridiculously naive and hard to switch back on. Nonetheless, I remain excited and positive about what the coming months will bring, knowing that it is up to me myself to make good things happen. Whenever I am inclined to put my name down for the VIP guest list of the latest Pity Party, I remind myself that this is SO not my crowd and hopefully never will be. Life can be unfair indeed, but so far, I, personally, really have not had much reason to complain. Unlike a colleague at the Firm's Stockholm office whose husband was one of 4 people who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and sadly lost his life. We should all sometimes take a look behind news headlines to remind ourselves that most things can be regained or replaced and hopefully our own mundane first World dilemmas fall into exactly that category.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happily Ever After

This past Saturday, a dear colleague, known here as M.C. got married to another lovely colleague, who is one of the funniest men I know, by the way. It was a happy ending to a love story of Telenovela proportions, some of which episodes were "produced" right in front of my eyes for months. Suffice it to say, there was drama and suspense galore and this budding relationship was fodder for A LOT of gossip and disapproving shaking of heads. Guilty as charged. It was heartwarming though to now see this union which was obviously meant to be get the official seal of approval. Bride and groom radiated happiness and it was a beautiful wedding. Often happiness you have to fight for seems all the sweeter and more deserved, but I still naively wish that dating/loving/marriage would be simple and straightforward, with clear communication, no casualties on the way and no tears for anyone involved. One can dream.
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