Going International - From VMB to LG

My journey since completing my grad scheme with Virgin Media Business has been an exciting one. I’ve swapped tubes for trams, skyscrapers for windmills and high streets for canals, as I’ve been lucky enough to get a placement working for Liberty Global, Virgin Media’s parent company based in Amsterdam.

Adapting to life in a new country has actually been a lot easier than I thought. It probably helps that pretty much everyone in Amsterdam speaks better English than the English do, but so far the move has been great. I love that my (rather old and a bit broken) bike is my main way of getting around, and I can’t say I’ve missed getting on a tube. The Dutch have adopted a much more relaxed way of life, and after 24 years of living in London I think it’s exactly the sort of escape I needed!

Work values in the Netherlands also seem quite different to the U.K. Staying late for the sake of looking good isn’t really a thing here, as the Dutch take their work-life balance extremely seriously. Despite being an American owned and extremely international company, Liberty Global seems to have taken on the Dutch way of working. Employees come to work, work hard, and leave when they’ve achieved what they wanted to that day. It’s a way of working I’ve quickly come to enjoy.

There are however, several differences at working at Liberty Global that I have had to adapt to. For example, as the owner of many brands around the world, the company culture (in my view) isn’t quite as clear. Liberty Global as the parent company, is a bit of a mix of the various cultures it owns. I’ve therefore noticed it’s not the company’s values that drive employees to work hard, which feels really different having come straight from a Virgin company where the culture is so strong. Instead, Liberty Global has a strong vision of where the company wants to be in a few years’ time, with some ambitious targets lying underneath it. Employees are united to achieve this vision, and this is what motivates them at work.

Something else that required some getting used to, is the different work values adopted by my colleagues from all over the globe. I was warned about “Dutch directness” before I arrived in Holland, but seeing it in practice is a whole different ball game. There isn’t much of the typical English politeness over here, if someone doesn’t approve of a piece of work or agree with a decision, more often than not they will let everyone know straight away. Combine that directness with some of the more expressive Portuguese or the corporate Americans, and that makes for some interesting meetings!

Working with people from different cultures is all part of the challenge of working for an international company, and it’s exactly the reason I was so keen to work here. In my role as a Cloud Product manager, I am lucky to work with people from different companies, countries, and cultures every day. Each new day has presented a unique experience, and I’ll come away from this role having had the opportunity to influence a Global Strategy for Cloud. I’m truly grateful to Virgin Media for helping me secure my placement, and I know when my time here ends I’ll be excited and ready for the next stage in my career!

James Chowen

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