What it’s like to move to Spain with little Spanish knowledge.

6 years ago, Spain

Out of the comfort zone: reviving my long-forgotten Spanish

After various experiences outside of my home country during my studies, I knew I wanted to carry on living abroad, at least for the foreseeable future. That’s a big part of what attracted me to Hilti: the promise of an international career. After 1 year in the field in Lyon (France) and 3 months of project in Paris (France again, as surprising as it sounds), it was finally time: I was moving abroad once more!

Having started in Hilti’s Western Europe organization, I had two main options for my third assignment: Belgium or Spain. Sure, Belgium is interesting, and I would have been very happy to go there. But something told me I should pursue another destination, one that would require to push myself a bit more: Spain.

There’s a very good reason I saw it as a challenge: I spoke Spanish. Kind of. Maybe? Or least I thought I did… but that was 10 years before, when I was still in middle school.

France is famous for its cheese, its wine, its strikes, and of course for its “great” skills at teaching French people to speak foreign languages. I was no exception, and any decent grade I could get in language class became meaningless once I had to speak to actual foreigners.

As I progressed in my studies after high school, I focused on English, and managed to bring myself to an acceptable level by international standards. But I did not do the same for Spanish: I never practiced it properly, and soon enough I could barely remember present-tense conjugation.

Fast-forward to my first call with my soon-to-be managers in Hilti Spain: “wow, they speak fast” and “hmm… not sure I understood that” were my main thoughts. I knew I had to prepare better: I downloaded the language practising App Duolingo, I did 7 lessons per day. And I watched Narcos on Netflix.

Narcos didn’t really help. Duolingo helped a little. After I started working in Madrid, after I spent days listening to Spanish, speaking in Spanish, reading Spanish, the old knowledge slowly came back. And quickly some new knowledge came in. My Spanish was still imperfect, but at least I could have a conversation, and soon I had progressed enough that I could get a landing position in Latin America.

“The story of how I learnt Spanish again” is not very interesting by itself – and many people would improve it similarly if put in the same situation. But it’s a good example of what the Outperformer Program allows you to do. “Putting you in that situation” is what it does, and with many more things than a language: new places, new offices, new departments, new colleagues, new skills. It pushes you in the pool, but is ready to hand you a buoy if you need one. If you like learning to swim… then you’ll enjoy it!

As the Program ends, some choices must be made...

5 years ago, Panama

Beyond the Program: And now…where do I go?

As the end of the trainee period gets closer, Global HR asks us trainees two questions: “what job would you like?” and “where would you like it to be?”. What would you say?

For me the first question was not hard to answer: after 2 years working in various departments across the company, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do.
However, the second one was something else: Hilti is present in more than 120 countries, so how do I choose? There are so many great places: Paris, Mexico City, Hong Kong. Or Manchester, Moscow, Dubai. Or Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Munich. Or…well I think you get the idea.

In French we say “choisir c’est renoncer”: “choosing is saying no”. And that’s what you do:
You balance the professional factors, like Where are there jobs corresponding to what I want to do? What’s the market like over there? Is it interesting for my development? What would I bring to Hilti there?
You also balance the personal factors: Would I rather live close or far from my home country? Do I want a western-style country or something else? Am I ok with the day-to-day life over there?
And let’s not forget the most important for some: What does my significant other think of all that??? A bit of advice: don’t try just saying “honey let’s go!” and pack your bags – it doesn’t work!

After all this factors-balancing, this –more or less– rational pondering, you refuse the possibility of more than 119 places, and you hop on a plane to 1 city. For me this was Panama!
I am now 1 year in my role as Services Product Manager for Latin America, being responsible for developing and implementing new services that help engage further our customers. This is enough time for me to say: I’m not disappointed by my choice. And about these 119 places I said “no” to… I know they’re 119 opportunities for my next move!

Hilti Latin America's Sales Managers gathered for the first time at our regional Kick-Off – a truly inspiring and exciting event!

4 years ago, Mexico

ONE Region coming together!

In the beginning of December, Hilti Latin America organized its regional kick-off. For the first time, more than 50 Area Sales Managers, as well as the Regional Marketing and Training Teams, gathered for a week of presentations, workshops and trainings aimed at preparing 2018.

While we’ve had national kick-offs held for many years, this regional format was the first of its kind for our organization. We are accelerating our business in a lot of areas, and launching each time more innovations in products, services & softwares. Joining forces like we did in this event will help us leverage all these innovations to their fullest potential.

I feel very lucky to have experienced this week, and the level of excitement and engagement I saw leave no room for doubt: Hilti Latin America is ready for an incredible 2018!


Commercial Track, Alumni