So how easy is it to return back to the UK after working in Australia, and what does the experience here do you for your prospects?
I needed to talk to someone who had been there and done that. Having returned to the UK earlier this year, Becky Glover was the right woman for the job, and she was over here on a visit, so I was in luck. It was time for a glass of wine (OK two).
Becky’s had a pretty interesting background – she joined the search team at Manning Gottlieb OMD in London about 8 years ago and after around 3 years she moved within the group to work in New York for Resolution Media. She arrived in Australia as a Search AD and quickly stepped up to the role of Head of Search for OMD in Sydney.
Becky’s comparison of the three markets was pretty interesting – “There’s a perception in the UK that the US market is ahead, and in many ways it isn’t.” She adds “There’s a perception that the Australian market is behind, and in many ways it isn’t.” Perhaps it’s a cultural thing – our friends in the US have never been shy of shouting about their achievements, and our friends in Australia are not ones for boasting. In the UK, we’re somewhere in the middle.
Becky’s move back to the UK was less career-focussed and more a case of returning home. From a pure career perspective, she feels that she may have been better off staying in Australia – “The opportunity in the UK is just not the same” she says “The market’s reached a bit of a plateau in search in the UK and it’s harder to get excited about roles over there”. She echoed some of Dan’s sentiments – there’s more flexibility in the Australian market, more scope, less governance and more collaboration. “Working at OMD Sydney was a great experience” Becky adds “I don’t think I’ll ever work anywhere quite like it again.”
The only real barriers in terms of coming back come down to misinformation and the perception of the Australian market by the UK. In Becky’s opinion, the two years she spent over here were probably worth five back in the UK – it’s because of the level of exposure and the rate of growth in the market. And let’s not forgot that we have our own skill-short market to contend with. Experience moving back is valid – the tricky bit for Becky was finding somewhere with the same level of responsibility and autonomy.
Money’s the other tricky bit – where do you fit in? We’ve gone backwards and forwards on this front a few times already. At the end of the day, value is subjective – you’re ‘worth’ what ever someone will pay for you. One of the great things about the market in Australia is that it still feels young and thriving – if you’ve got the ability, the market will invest in you. You can move quickly if you earn your stripes (as discussed with Grant). More quickly than you can in the UK.
The challenge is that a more established market with bigger teams demands more consistency – length of experience is something which is always factored in, along with other aspects like accountability, management experience, the scale of budgets managed, results achieved etc. You’re just assessed in a slightly different way, and that can mean you’re forced to adjust your expectations (and not just on the weather front).