VIE LESA has started its initiative “VIE Speak Up” to tackle the challenges of Dual Career(s) in Vienna. We invite expat partners and stakeholders in Austria and abroad to share their experience(s) and Expertise to create a vibrant buzz for the spousal talent out there. Interested? Drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org!
This time, we are excited to be talking to Gertraud Eregger, an international HR professional and coach. Austrian by birth, she has lived and worked in Africa and currently in Jamaica. Gertraud is a true expert in international recruitment, talent acquisition, executive search and Transition coaching. Her coaching business ‘Leading Expat Women on Assignment’ is all about co-supporting Rockstar expat women on assignment to keep their energy levels loaded and consciously slow down, so they will fast-track success and create the impact of a powerful time abroad. www.gertrauderegger.com
VIE LESA: Thank you Gertraud for taking the time and sharing your story and insights with VIE LESA! Tell us a bit more about why and how you started you business. What kind of support did you receive, personal, organizational? What was your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Gertraud Eregger: During our assignments abroad I was so inspired by many women I’ve met and worked with, so I felt a need to support these high achieving expat women on their mission and help them discover how they can maximize their impact, have more time and more energy. My biggest driver: only 25% of expats sent abroad are women – so I am very passionate to collaborate with organizations to re-write this narrative, and see many more women lead, inspire and create impact on a global scale.
As for my biggest challenge – well I decided to go for starting my business during a time that seemed almost ‘impossible’ to get a business started. We just got our little baby girl Clara, we got married and I’ve transitioned back into my partner acquisition role at Talentor – an Austrian based global executive search network. I overcame all fear and the idea of putting my vision aside, by taking baby steps and I’ve always stayed connected with my vision and passion. When I collaborate with my clients as coach, all my core skills and passion mold together: My HR mind, working and living as expat myself, my experience as working mother and my passion to support leaders abroad. So, it felt very natural to not give up and take it one step at the time. And last but least, as for my support system: My key person for making a dual career possible is my husband – he supports all my dreams and challenges my fears. My family is also always supporting me wherever we live, and I remember that day when I registered the business and my mum was waiting for me in my home town and opened champagne and told me ‘Wow, we are so proud of you’. And I partnered with a business coach, Amel Derragui, who created Tandem Nomads and is focused on creating portable businesses for expat partners on the move. I also worked together with my own coach, who kept me accountable to my vision and gave me a space to reflect, and slow down.
Never say never as expat partner, and enjoy the ride. Take it one step and one conversation at the time, and stay connected to your dreams.
VIE LESA: What do you think are the biggest challenges for expat partners in general? And what would be your advice for everyone following his/her partner here for their job? What are the key factors to consider? What/which are services you consider essential to ease the transition?
Gertraud Eregger: In general, I feel that moving to another country for your partner might be one of the most impactful decisions in life. Living outside of your home, outside of your support system exposes you to an adventure that is incomparable to many other challenges. I promise, that you will learn so much about yourself abroad as never before: about yourself, your partnership and power of your family.
3 challenges are for me key that, if taken on, might lead to opportunities for both abroad:
- Only 25% of lead expats are women. Thus, 75% are men and mostly women are ‘following’ their partner. As a partner, you will be exposed to a lot of times quite traditional role models and you might here a lot of times statements that put expat partners in boxes (e.g. you will never find a job, why would you work – your husband earns enough; why bother to continue your career?, now is the best time for babies…etc.). Breaking those bias and considering the assignment to be an opportunity for both, is one way to re-write the narrative of the ‘trailing spouse’.
- In our last Event of ‘Here we are Jamaica’ we heard experienced from both the expat and the partner. Both face different challenges – so putting each other in the shoes of the other person might be a key changer in the relationship. Having an open discussion about challenges, opportunities and truly co-supporting each other’s journey abroad is the base for creating a powerful global life-style and options for both.
- Take it one step at the time. It is very easy to get loaded by expat life, to organize and set up the new life-style and be the ‘rock’ for the family – mostly, the expat partner has the role of being the ‘family glue’. Keeping one activity or initiative, that truly energizes you as partner and where you feel you create impact wherever you live, might lead into a career abroad, a community initiative abroad and most probably the joy of looking back after certain years and you can proudly say: Wow, I’ve created impact of course as a partner as well.
Be kind to yourself, and use any services and support possible to ease the transition. Very move might feel different, no matter how many times you have done it. Find your tribe, collaborate with a coach who holds you accountable for your dreams, and stay tuned that you lead a very bold and powerful life – almost every day out of your comfort zone.
VIE LESA: Talking about comfort zone: What does Vienna/Austria need to further advance Dual Career(s) and attract human talent and their families? Are there Best Practice models from other institutions and/or countries which could further facilitate the mobility of dual career couples?
Gertraud Eregger: All the work VIE LESA does to spread the word and discussion about Dual Careers and seeing expatriation as true opportunity for the whole family is vital. Austria is known to be a country that is not the easiest to fit in as an expat (language barrier as well), so providing a space for like-minded partners and expat who want to make an impact in Austria, is key to re-write the narrative in the country .Your work will also inspire Austrian companies to create support systems for partner when expats are sent abroad.
I’ve been in a support system for expat partners initiated by the employer of my husband, and it changed my perspective and is the base for my business and what I do today.
The discussion of dual career couples starts with an open mind and the conscious decision of everyone involved to remove any labels and see people, stories, amazing skills and compassion behind it.
Are you an expat woman on assignment or managed to thrive a dual career as couple? Are you interested to learn more about how to raise your energy while living abroad, connecting powerfully to your mission and create the impact you always wanted wherever you live?
Sign up for Gertraud Eregger’s newsletter here: http://www.gertrauderegger.com/
Download the free 5 Steps Guide: Maximize your energy and impact abroad here – https://chipper-leader-4236.ck.page/e134716f0d
Gertraud is also creating an Interview Series ‚Rockstart Expat Women on the Move‘ and is always excited to feature powerful stories of leading, living and thriving abroad as expat women. Interested to be interviewed, so your story can inspire many more women abroad? Reach out to Gertraud via email@example.com