Expert’s view Gill Harris on working in Canada

Harris, head of HR at Thomas Cook, currently working in the UK

made you move overseas?

move came through an internal transfer. Having been in my UK role for some
time, I wanted a new challenge and around that time our vice-president of HR
and training left our Canadian business and I was offered a secondment there
for six months. This turned into a long term (four-year) position.

there any specific benefits to HR professionals in getting international

demonstrates the international aspect of the function and how similar the
issues are wherever you are in the world. There is a need to be culturally
sensitive to the impact of any initiatives.

were the practical obstacles?

company was extremely supportive in terms of finding accommodation, and the
visa application and extension.

benefits did you experience and did it help you move up the career ladder?

tested my adaptability in a new work and domestic environment. It also made me
more resilient. On my return to the UK, employers have seen this experience as
valuable both for the flexibility it shows and the cultural awareness. Working
internationally offers another perspective when compared to the majority of HR

advice to anyone expecting to return to UK working after a secondment is to be
aware of how long you are out of the UK job market. Employers do value overseas
experience, but if you are away too long you may struggle to convince them you
have kept up with domestic developments.

advice do you have for a similar HR professional who has the opportunity to
work abroad?

it – time passes quickly and communication developments mean it is easy to keep
in contact personally and professionally.

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