If you asked me six months ago whether I knew I was going to move to India, the answer would have been no. If you asked me if I would pursue spending a year living and operating in a completely different environment, the answer would have been possibly, but probably no. Ask anyone, I’m pretty set in my ways.
But like all good adventures, something changed. I now find myself embarking on a year-long placement in Mumbai, with little prior knowledge of India, little knowledge of how communications work there and the company I might keep. But that’s why I’m doing it – that’s part of the adventure and these are the things I am going out there to learn.
Since learning I was an FY16 Fellow, I’ve canvassed quite a bit of opinion from colleagues who have been to Mumbai before and from former Fellows who have gone to other markets in the Edelman network. The best advice I have been given (by nearly everyone) is don’t expect anything. Don’t come with pre-conceived ideas. Don’t come in like a bull in a china shop. Just go with it.
A wise colleague told me a few weeks ago that your career is like a pair of shoes. For every step you take in your career, your “career shoes” accumulate a morsel of the ground you’ve crossed along the way. After three and a half years in the London office, culminating in being an account manager in the Corporate and Financial Team; I think my shoes are looking less like a pair of heels and more like a pair of well-trodden walking boots.
I’ve read that in India it is courteous and customary when entering a home to leave your shoes at the door and that in the office, some people change their shoes when they come into work, some don’t.
I’m sure it all depends on the weather, but when I get to Mumbai in a few weeks’ time, I will literally and figuratively leave my shoes at the door. I hope to learn from what goes on around me – and just go with it. I’ll dust my career shoes off as necessary and wherever my previous experience could be valuable – but for the next few months, the aim is to break in a new pair of boots altogether.
Charlotte Paton is an account manager in the Corporate and Financial team at Edelman London and a FY16 Fellow heading to Mumbai, India.