Gaining a deeper understanding
"The enriching professional experience helped improve my functional expertise and develop an understanding of our business from a global perspective," says Juliana Mazolla, who recently completed a Short-Term Assignment in the USA at VFS Global Headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Prior to arriving in the USA, Juliana discussed her STA goals and development areas with her host manager. “I expressed my desire to gain a better understanding of the business and develop my leadership skills, and the STA provided those opportunities for me. For example, I was given the responsibility to lead a project to refine the social media strategy for VFS, and I worked with colleagues from all Regions to understand their social media communication needs, work their requirements into a strategy, and then deliver training to VFS Marketing Communication Forum members,” Juliana explains.
“I learned a lot. Being involved in key meetings and events enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of VFS’ strategy and broaden my network. Working with the global team meant I had a broad view of VFS and increased my knowledge about regions and markets around the world,” says Juliana, who started her career as an intern in 2011 in VFS Brazil and is now a Marketing Communication Analyst in the market. Upon her return to VFS Brazil, she says that she certainly applies much of what she learned to her daily activities. “In addition to the professional experience I gained, my STA helped me incorporate traits such as assertiveness, agility and punctuality into my daily work life.” she reflects.
Juliana plans to keep her eye on new professional development opportunities. “Now, I am left with the taste of wanting more. Who knows what new career opportunities lay ahead!”
Smart moves yield long-term success
Recently, three colleagues from VFS China took a Short Tern Assignment. Paul Le Houillier, SVP and President of VFS China, says, “STA programs are excellent “learning programs” and a strategic investment for both participants and VFS. The long-term success of an STA is to develop our employees to the next level through global experiences outside the Chinese market. Our employees will gain access and experience the best practices from around the world and they will be able to introduce these practices in China, helping us strive for operational excellence and sustainable profitability.”
- Eric Chen, Finance Planning and Analysis Manager, joined VFS China in March 2015 and took a Short Term Assignment in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA., from September - October 2016. “Regardless of background and experience, your input is appreciated and your voice is heard. In some cases, accounting staff do not have so many opportunities of communicating with other regions. Over my assignment in Greensboro, much of what I did required me to work very closely with all levels of co-workers with different cultural backgrounds. As a team member taking on a temporary role, how can I take advantage of short-term assignments for my long-term learning and professional development? I proactively sought out individuals at various levels of the team to learn more about my work and shared my thoughts. With contributions from the collective team, one thing I believe makes VFS unique is that everyone has a voice. Regardless of your background and experience, your input is appreciated and your opinion is valued. I feel very honored to have been offered the opportunity to work with VFS Global Headquarters, Region Americas coworkers and in VFS USA.”
- Ivy Zhai, Credit Manager, joined VFS China in August 2010 and took a Short Term Assignment in Warwick, U.K., from October - December 2016. “I learned from every challenge each day. Just because an assignment is shorter in duration does not mean that it is easier. In fact, a strong case could be made that a short-term assignment is actually more fully engaged with challenging goals and deadlines than longer assignments. Yet, having an experience in Risk and Operations with VFS UK granted me a view of the market, which I very much enjoyed. I learned from every challenge each day. I have been so lucky to be part of some extraordinary projects while there, and also appreciate the opportunity to learn from very talented people. These kinds of experiences can turn out to be as valuable in many ways as my professional ones. I am still at the beginning of my career and will benefit from learning curve advantages in this career domain.”
- Sophia Zhao, Marketing Communication Manager, joined VFS China in September 2012 and took a Short Term Assignment in Greensboro, U.S., from July - October 2016. “Every single hour I learned something new. My STA in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, Global headquarters for VFS, was one of the most fascinating assignments I have ever had. I loved the challenges and responsibilities that my role entailed. Every single hour I learned something new. During my program, I took a deep dive into the challenges of starting new business ideas to making things happen through close work with global colleagues. More importantly, it is clear that VFS leadership is committed to making VFS an even better place in which to build a career. Everything I learned about myself and in my field is a building block in my long-term career development and personal life. I was extremely passionate about pursuing my targets and I returned home satisfied with my career growth every day. Aligning with my home managers and host managers, effectively managing the STA has helped me develop myself from both professional and personal life perspectives with deserving outcomes. I have much appreciation for the encouragement, patience and support that Greensboro-based co-workers and my country colleagues provided."
"Learning about the business and yourself"
Cintia Gavlak, an early career professional from VFS Brazil and Erika Martínez, an experienced VFS Mexico manager with one Short Term Assignment under her belt, may be from different countries and at different places in their careers, but both VFS employees have learnt about the business and themselves from their Short Term Assignments in VFS Chile
Cintia Gavlak, a Credit Assistant for VFS Brazil, began her career at Volvo do Brazil in 2008 as an administrative intern, and was eventually hired to work full-time for VFS Brazil. She was – and still is – eager to learn and develop professionally.
She met with her supervisor and shared that she wanted to leave her comfort zone to face new challenges and opportunities for personal and professional growth. When the opportunity to participate in a STA appeared, Cintia took it. She was interested in working in another country, and was certain it would allow her to learn about credit processes and analyses.
"Working in a foreign country offers lots of advantages, but it was difficult initially. I had to adapt to a new work platform, learn a new language and grasp a culture different from my own. With the help of the VFS team, I increased my knowledge of credit analyses and processes. The knowledge I gained from this STA will be applied to my professional and personal life. Such an experience improves your career, develops you personally and teaches you new things. Due to this experience, I feel more prepared to face new challenges. I have acquired new professional and personal skills which I will share everywhere I go."
Erika Martinez, a Risk Manager for VFS Mexico, joined the Volvo Group in 1999. She participated in a 6-month STA in VFS Chile as a Business Lead, where she was part of the team extending the VFS Region the Americas standardized business systems and processes to VFS Chile.
“As a professional in an STA, you certainly gain new knowledge and helpful contacts, but you also practice your communication and negotiation skills. To be part of a multi-disciplinary team without losing the common objective is a big challenge, but your lifesaver is to preserve excellent communication among everybody. I am aware of and responsible for that in my current project."
"The language, culture, weather, time zone and business partners are all different. STAs are fascinating experiences. They reinforce my perception about the greatness of the Volvo Group. You meet wonderful people ready to share experiences and find new ways to do things."
"A new mindset"
Ricardo Magalhães, a Commercial Manager for VFS Brazil in charge of North and Northeast Truck and Bus channels, completed a 3-month Short Term Assignment with the VFS USA commercial sales team in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.
"This experience gave me a new mindset. It has helped me to be open to embracing changes, diversity, and new challenges. It was a great chance to meet nice people and establish new connections in VFS. I have been with the Volvo Group since October 2005. This is the first time I have participated in an opportunity like this. I’ve had a genuine interest in international experience. I have been able to see my dream come true. This was an amazing opportunity and proof of the commitment VFS made to establish a global and high performing team." said Ricardo.