Laura reflects on a double placement in TUI’s North American Division…
Moving around every 3 months is tough. Finding a new home, meeting new people, getting used to a new office… it all takes time and, just when you think you’ve cracked it, you move again.
So I guess I was ‘lucky’ when my manager asked me if I’d like to stay for a second placement here in Seattle, but it wasn’t an easy decision to do so. In this post, I’ll give an overview of what I did during my first three months, what I did during my second and the ups and downs along the way…
I arrived in Seattle last September where I was placed to take over from Debs on a project she’d started earlier in the year. Based on her business plan and research, I was tasked with setting up a new department for two of the North American brands; my brief was to have it launched and running before I left.
Luckily for me, Debs had left some great foundations and that meant getting my head around the project was the easy part (thanks Debs!). But, as is often the case in these placements, understanding the project is not the big job. The bigger piece of work lies in understanding the business, the requirements and the politics which can all impact on how the project moves forward and the best direction to take it in.
I was able to move through the complications by identifying the requirements and the problems, and carving out my own role where I could help steer the project forward and utilise my own skills to add some real value. During that three month period, I successfully wireframed and wrote the content for a new website, employed a designer and managed the development team from project brief to launch to create a site that everyone was happy with and that could grow with the project (and I wrote a full content management guide to help this along). I wrote a full marketing plan, including tone of voice and SEO guidelines, which was accepted by all key stakeholders and even made it into the hands of the head of TUI Group! And I came up with a marketing idea which, when launched, brought in 9 booking requests within its first week.
I had lots I was proud of – plus I’d been really working on my own personal development to be less ‘fiery red’ and more ‘sunshine yellow’ (Insights) and felt I’d done a good job of softening my approach on the whole. But all of this made my decision to extend my placement a difficult one – could I keep up the ‘good work’ and continue to impress or was I just good at 3 month placements? Would I have enough work to do? And with another grad on her way out to Seattle, was it even fair for me to stay?
I thought about it long and hard (after all, I’d been away from home for 3 months and missed my friends and family a lot) but the opportunity I had here to extend my learning and work on some new and exciting projects was too much to pass up. So I stayed for another placement, during which I handed over my project to Jen who took over from me, and worked on various Divisional level projects including a review of how we work with travel agents and how that can be improved, the identification and subsequent employment of a ‘preferred supplier’ list of web design agencies for the Division, and various competitor analyses and training programmes for one of our brands.
It’s certainly been a busy 6 months and I’ve really enjoyed being here. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve been able to get some travel in too – I’ve seen Vancouver, Idaho, Portland and Las Vegas during my time here, as well as plenty of skiing up in the nearby mountains! But it’s been a challenge – on a personal level more than anything – and only time will tell if spending so long in the US has affected my networks back home.