SLA Europe – Career Stories – Working Internationally | SLA Europe

Thank you to Tim Palmer for this review. Tim is a recruitment consultant at CB Resourcing.

Despite the impending threat of Storm Gareth later in the evening, it was another excellent turnout for the 3rd annual Careers Stories Evening, hosted once again at the Business and IP Centre at the British Library.

Last March, the theme for evening was running your own business. This year our guest speakers shared their vast combined experience of “Working internationally” encapsulating the challenges, opportunities and journeys their careers have provided.

Kicking things off and very much in keeping with the theme for the evening, our first speaker Victoria North of US law firm Kirkland & Ellis, joined us via web conference from New York. Victoria’s long career in Librarianship has recently culminated in landing her “dream job” developing knowledge practices at Kirkland & Ellis as Director of Knowledge. The caveat of landing the dream job being a massive life change and a move from London to New York and setting up a new life.

Next up, SLA President and Bodleian Business Librarian, Hal Kirkwood, to give us an account of the trials and tribulations of an unplanned journey into librarianship and making the reverse move across the Atlantic. Having carved out a distinguished career in the US academic system and at the same time increasingly becoming a key participant in multiple information networks, Hal made an application to a role at Said Business School Oxford. In a very short space of time, things quickly snowballed from a speculative application into a number of life changing decisions and finally a move from Indianapolis to Oxford in 2018

Following a break in proceedings , Editor in Chief at Online Searcher, Marydee Ojala took centre stage to talk about a career embracing multiple moves throughout the United States and Europe. Stopping points in Marydee’s career include multiple US states, London and Denmark. Marydee reflected on the challenges of being immersed in a culture where English isn’t the first language and the challenges of providing consultancy to Radio Free Europe where the audience speak approximately 15 different languages.  Currently Marydee is an observer and valued commentator on the global information industry, a role with continuous travel ongoing global travel requirements.

Our last speaker Ceri Hughes, Head of Learning for KPMG UK reflected on a career where the challenge of working internationally is a key part of building a career in a truly global business. Having started out at Cable and Wireless, a leap of faith took Ceri to KPMG, a firm with a reach into 155 countries. Her career at KPMG has been one in which she has moved around the international and UK firms influencing strategy and process across the business. In such a vast and complex international firm the challenge of building relationships, influencing change and driving the KPMG culture at local level has incorporated travel to over 35 countries, working hours tuned to different time zones and embracing technical changes and opportunities.

Some of the key themes among the speakers:

  • Build networks wherever you can and embrace the opportunity to build relationships that will help achieve career and job-related objectives
  • Be adaptable and prepared to work outside your comfort zone
  • Embrace technology and be innovative
  • Be prepared to take a leap of faith

1 comment on “SLA Europe – Career Stories – Working Internationally”

  1. Marydee Ojala

    I would add one more key theme that I heard from all the speakers: The importance of the SLA network to succeed and feel comfortable in settings outside your home country.

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