By: Maeve Carey
My experience on the Explorers Programme has been a rollercoaster of excitement, nerves and one major learning curve since day one. Well, day three to be exact, when all fifteen explorers were brought into the boardroom at HQ in Newry. We were told we had all been assigned cities, and were to be sent out in the next six to eight weeks. “Yes, even you” our boss nodded to myself and the other newest additions to the team – at that point still unable to navigate our way around the office, let alone a foreign city. My anticipation built as they worked around the table, distributing destinations to each of us. When my turn came around and I heard, “Maeve, Zurich”, my nerves immediately turned to excitement. Having recently completed my degree in Commerce and German at UCD, I was excited by the opportunity to use my language and to discover a country that I had had very little exposure to previously.
Over the eight weeks that followed at HQ in Newry, I sought to learn everything I could about Kx technology and its numerous uses from its roots in the finance industry to Outer Space. During this time, we worked alongside the marketing team, learning about event management, collateral creation and honing our presentation skills. All the while researching everything there is to know about our locations and carefully crafting our City Plan – a strategy document for our seven weeks filled with target companies, universities, start-up incubators and events to attend. Before our departure, we also got to experience working with the Lead Generation team where we got to practise pitching Kx and begin setting our City Plan in motion by lining up our initial meetings for when we arrived.
My time in Newry flew by and before I knew it I was boarding a plane to Zurich. I was given only seven weeks to make an impact in the city so the settling-in period didn’t last long before I was prepping for the initial meetings. Since arriving I’ve thrown myself into life in Zurich. As an explorer, it’s my job to have my finger on the pulse of what is going on in my city and region. This means getting out and about and getting involved in both professional and social networks to make as many connections as possible. In my short time here I have even begun to gain a reputation for myself as “that Irish girl who’s at all the meetups” – a title I hold with pride.
One of the things that I have enjoyed most about life as an explorer so far is the variety in the work that we do. One day you could be talking to a major multinational company, the next you’re hearing about the latest technologies being developed by the most innovative and disruptive startups – no two days are the same. And while there are many exciting days spent attending conferences and attending meetings with global companies, there is inevitably a lot of hard work and determination involved too. The daily grind of cold calling, organisational tasks and facing frustrating obstacles, is only made more challenging by the fact that you are on your own. But it is through these experiences that I am developing skills that I believe will stand to me for the rest of my career. And while I may be alone here in Zurich, I am constantly supported by the fantastic FD community both in Newry and around the world – there is always someone at the other end of the phone to listen to your concerns and guide you through any challenges.
Life as an explorer has not only offered amazing professional experience, but also opportunities to travel and enjoy all Switzerland and its surrounding countries have to offer. In my brief time living in the heart of Europe, I’ve spent weekends exploring the nearby cities of Milan and Konstanz, and with the weather getting colder, I plan on digging out the ski gear and heading to the slopes. Aside from weekend breaks however, I think the highlight for me has to be the people I have met here. Landing in a city without any network of friends, family or even work colleagues around me has allowed me to get to know people that I never would have otherwise encountered and have conversations about things I knew next to nothing about a mere three months ago.
In my opinion, the best thing about the Explorers Programme is the opportunity to discover all of the exciting challenges and fascinating people who inhabit that vast expanse outside of your comfort zone.