Meet Diane

Her first full-time job was in a global leadership position at Webhelp in a foreign country. Although she didn’t move abroad with just 20 euros in her digital wallet, her story is just as inspiring for young generations who look for a place in this world.

Working at Webhelp - Diane

Hi, Diane! Thank you for sharing some of your secrets with us. What would you like to start with?
Hi! Unfortunately, I don’t have as many exciting secrets as you hoped for, but I will do my best to share my story… the real deal. I am Diane, I am turning 24 years old this year [2020]. I am originally from France and I moved to Germany last September in 2019 to work within the Global Marketing Department at Webhelp. No secrets so far – some of this information is on my LinkedIn page as well.
You asked me earlier if I just packed my bags and moved to another country with 20 euros in my pocket. No, that was not the case. It was a very strategic and well-planned decision. Sorry for disappointing you! But I can say that this was a real adventure for me.
Since I moved here, my life has changed in so many ways. I see things from a different perspective, I work with incredible people and I run much faster. I am into sports – mostly running – and here in Nuremberg this has become a daily lifestyle for me.

So, you worked at Webhelp in France and then you moved to Webhelp in Germany. What is the true story behind your decision?
I am a bit of a globe-trotter, to be honest. When I started university, I always managed to go study and work abroad – through the Erasmus Program (whether for one year or just one semester) or with an internship. Each time after such an experience, I felt the need to keep travelling and go somewhere else. So, it was clear to me that I wanted my first full-time job to be in another country.
I didn’t have anything specific in mind, but I was mostly considering another European country. During my master’s degree, I was a working student within Webhelp Payment Services in France. And just when my contract was about to end, Webhelp was putting together a global marketing department in Germany. As most of the team was based in Nuremberg, it made sense to me to move abroad.

Moving to a new country is a big step. How did Webhelp support you when you decided to make this change?
I had the direct support from the global HR team at Webhelp. They told me they would pay for my flight ticket and help me take my stuff with me – which really came in handy as I am not quite a light traveller, especially when I move to another country 😊. Within the relocation package, I had one month of accommodation paid by the company, which meant I could spare enough time to look for something permanent.
My awesome colleagues also chipped in with some local knowledge and tips on the best ways to find a flat. They told me which areas and neighbourhoods would be the best to live in. It felt nice that people I had just met were so kind and eager to help me out. So, it was a smooth experience.

Speaking of new experiences, what would you say about your new department or team? We promise we won’t tell anyone.

Don’t worry! I’ll hide this article from them, anyway. Actually, it is a bit special because we are a team split across different cities. For example, my manager is based in Paris and another team member lives in London. But it’s true that most of our department is based in Nuremberg. When I arrived, I was the newbie in a highly experienced team, but everyone was uber nice to me and we just clicked.
Since I am passionate about food, I truly enjoy our lunches together. But we go beyond that to make sure our team spirit stays strong… near… far… wherever we are. We manage to meet in person, dine out when we’re all together, exchange daily emails, share funny memes on Teams or just chat online with the cameras on since it feels more personal this way.
I would say that I have noticed a similar team spirit in other Webhelp locations or departments.

Let’s talk about the young leaders of today. Because you’re one of them. You started at Webhelp as a Digital Communication Assistant and after one year you became a Global Content & Campaign Coordinator. How about that?
Once upon a time… a year ago when I worked as a Digital Communication Assistant at Webhelp Payment Services, I knew I’d like to continue working in marketing. In my previous job I had already acquired international experience very fast, which proved to be a steppingstone to my current career – one that ticks off all the boxes and challenges I have been looking for.
When I read the job description, I knew I would get to work on global campaigns, do social media management and be involved in the development of our new international website. I believe every young person my age would have found this job extremely rewarding and challenging at the same time.
But what’s truly inspiring is that my direct manager and Global Marketing Director trusted me in this role. Likewise, they saw potential in me and put my previous performance over my seniority. I think this is how our managers and directors prepare the young leaders of today – they encourage us to take risks and dare us to make changes, even though it can get messy sometimes.

Staying on the same subject, how do you position yourself as a leader in front of other senior executives with more experience than you?
There’s much to talk about, but I think it starts with giving and receiving feedback. I am not sure I use a specific technique – maybe trial and error? – but I always strive to be clear in my feedback, to offer concise clear information in just one email or meeting. If you accommodate your team’s needs and expectations, are clear in your brief or instructions and encourage them to speak openly, you’ve made your first step as a leader.
It’s a two-way process – many times I am the one receiving feedback, either positive or negative. And it’s quite refreshing because when I spend so much time working on a project, I might not notice the small details or mistakes that stick out. But a new set of eyes will. If it’s feedback that I wasn’t expected, then I take it as a chance for improvement. People have different views – even your friends and family see you with other eyes.
It’s also very important to listen to your team members. By that I mean to identify the little things that might not be obvious right away. Emotional intelligence is truly an open secret to effective management.
So, I don’t think it’s the age that makes you a leader. New generations are now entering the workforce and some of my even younger colleagues are brilliant at what they do.

What have been the most exciting and challenging aspects since you moved to Germany?
I would say the main challenge I have faced is the language. Whenever someone asks me where I live, they immediately assume I speak German. Which is so not the case. When I arrived in the country, I asked the HR if I could attend German classes and fortunately that was something that Webhelp could provide. I started with two classes per week, but to be honest this was very tough, especially after a full day at the office when my brain was exhausted. If my language instructor reads this… I really did try!
On the exciting side of things, the first aspect that comes to mind would be that I get to use the bike all around the city. Nuremberg is quite small and very bike-friendly with those special cycle lanes. And the second thing that comes to mind? Well, my current role – that’s why I am here and we’re having this conversation 😊.

Great answer, but I want the real deal. Were there any moments when you felt out of your depth?
That’s a nice way of asking me if I had moments when I felt I couldn’t do my job. Of course, I had. This happened mainly when we started the international website project. It was very challenging for me to juggle maybe 4 to 5 projects in parallel with the website.
I talked to my direct manager about it and we decided together to focus my time mostly on one large project, as it already involved many varied tasks. The support of my team made me feel I could be open and understood, and that is why today I can speak honestly about it.

So, you could say that this job had a great impact on your life.
Absolutely. This was my first full-time job. So, emotionally it made me feel like ‘welcome to the adult world’. I suddenly found myself in a position in which I had many responsibilities from the beginning and people fully put their trust in me. This has built up my confidence in both my personal and professional life.
Referring strictly to my career, I learnt project management within a few months faster than in all my years of studying. There was a learning curve of improving myself, correcting my methods, giving feedback to senior executives, waiting for project validation and adapting myself to cross-functional teams and different cultures.
Likewise, my job is content-related. In this regard, I had the chance to really hone my skills not just in terms of content creation but also organizing and encouraging creative teams from various countries to come up with out-of-the-box ideas.

If you could go back in time, what would you say to the 16-year-old Diane?
The first thing I would say is ‘Diane, you’re not going to become an English teacher. Not even a French one’. The second thing would be ‘Diane, stop freaking out! You’ll have the rest of your life for that.’
Sometimes teenagers put so much pressure on themselves, whether due to society or family expectations and that creates a lot of anxiety from early adulthood. Everything goes so fast, but you should never feel forced to make a choice right away.

True. Many young people nowadays are very confused about their career choice. When did you know exactly what you wanted to do for work?
You’re right – we see this topic everywhere in pop culture. For me, it came along the way. When I finished high school, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. So, I went on to study Business Management because it was quite a broad field and I could choose to specialise in any given area afterwards.
I think it was in the Netherlands when I started having a better sense of what I wanted to do as a career. During my one-year exchange program, I had an amazing marketing lecturer and lots of hands-on experience, such as promoting projects or creating advertising materials for (real!) companies. I was representing the marketing department in those projects, and it was that moment when I realized I would end up doing this for a living.
What I would say to young people trying to figure out what they want to do is not to rush into anything. Don’t let any external pressure determine your choices. Here in Germany, many young people take time for themselves or go travelling abroad for a year before starting their university studies. After a gap year or some globe-trotting, you’re more open to possibilities since your mind is clearer in terms of what you want to do for work and who you are as a person.

That was very deep. Is there a question you wouldn’t know how to answer today?
So many. But if I had to choose one, I think it would be ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ Answering this question today would be a bit of a struggle. As my new job challenges me in ways I didn’t know I could ever be challenged, I plan to stay in Germany for a while longer. But after that, I really have no idea. I think my generation dreads this question because we like to experiment all the time and we are in a constant process of self-discovery.
But knowing myself, I think I would take advantage of Webhelp’s mobility program and move to another country. Maybe even with my own project. And I am not saying this just to advertise our career opportunities – I really mean it.

OK, and what about personal projects or hobbies outside the workplace. Could you share yours with us?
Sure. Are you ready for it? I am going to run a marathon in October in Amsterdam. So, I am currently training a lot for this experience and that’s why I am wearing this fitness suit, as you can see. I am so glad this interview won’t be published in a video format. You promised it will be just an article, right?

Anyway, apart from this side project, I like hiking and yoga as well. Last weekend a couple of colleagues from Webhelp and I went hiking in Austria. I know it might sound like a cliché, but it was such an enriching experience to socialize with my colleagues outside the workplace. And to actually see them dressed for the occasion in really funny situations.

Diane, thank you for your candour and sharing your story with us! We can’t wait to see where you’ll be in 5 years. Best of luck!

Nice one… the big ‘5-year’ question. Thank you for inviting me, and who knows? Maybe I’ll be in your country.