Adriana Di Giacomo, Brand & Communications Coordinator - Practice Management Group
Host firm: Baker Tilly International Limited
Location: London, United Kingdom
Role on secondment: Assistant to the Brand Manager - Marketing
Read more secondment adventures here.
What made you decide to take a secondment?
In 2014, I went on a 4-week holiday to London where I stayed with my sister and I felt like I became a local. I loved my time in London so much that I didn’t want to leave but University and work brought me back to reality and so I returned home. From that moment on, I wondered what it would be like to actually live in London. When the idea of going on a secondment to Baker Tilly International (BTI) in London was presented to me four years later, I jumped at it! Was I nervous and a bit scared to take the leap? Yes. But to me, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity where; 1) I could gain so much experience career-wise and have the opportunity to grow personally, 2) I could safely test out what it would be like to work overseas, particularly in a global head office, and 3) I was given the chance to visit my sister again and return to the city I loved. I knew I had to do this and see where it would take me!
What type of work were you doing while on secondment?
I assisted Jo Luck, Brand Manager, by rebranding and coming up with new design concepts for existing documents and presentations – demonstrating how the new brand could be implemented and evolved. I created templates for proposals, flyers, statistic pages, event invitations and I created a potential new logo for Global Focus. I attended meetings that included the external brand designers, external event company, Ted Verkade (CEO and president of Baker Tilly International Limited) and representatives of various independent member firms of Baker Tilly International, who made decisions on the rebrand.
What did you enjoy most about the secondment, from a work perspective?
I really enjoyed having the chance to work in a global head office and I found it very interesting to learn how Baker Tilly International Limited operates – leading and managing 147 independent member firms of Baker Tilly International. It was exciting to be a part of meetings that involved people from around the world. Baker Tilly International is currently going through a rebrand and I was excited to be a part of it. I was able to exercise my creativity and work independently in coming up with ideas and concepts, while assisting the rebrand of current BTI documents. At first it was a challenge but I was pleased to see myself persevere.
How has/will this secondment opportunity impact your career?
This secondment has provided me with much experience and confidence, making me realise what I can achieve once I set my mind to it. By working with the new Baker Tilly International brand in London, I am ready to help with future projects.
What was the best thing you experienced during your trip, that you wouldn’t have been able to do without your host firm?
Thanks to Pitcher Partners and Baker Tilly International, I was given the opportunity to experience what it is like to work and live in London. Reflecting on it all, I am really proud of being able to push myself out of my comfort zone. It has increased my confidence in meeting new people and I learned how to deal with challenging situations.
How did you make friends during your secondment?
The team at BTI were all very kind and friendly, and they made me feel a part of the team from my first day. I also met my sister's friends and we would meet up with them after work or on the weekends.
What were your living arrangements like during your secondment?
I stayed with my sister during my time in London. Travelling to work was very easy as it took approximately 40 minutes to travel to the Blackfriars Underground Station via the Tube and then a further 2-minute walk to the BTI office. BTI were extremely nice to cover my travel expenses to and from work by providing me with a pre-loaded Oyster card. The transport system in London is very easy to learn and practically all of London is accessible via the Tube. The fact that there are more daylight hours during the summer, with the sun not setting until around 11pm, makes the night life come alive and you can easily explore the city after work, especially with the bonus off-peak travel fares.
What was the highlight of living in the city, as opposed to visiting as a tourist?
The highlight of living in London, as opposed to visiting as a tourist is that you really do become a local. You go off the beaten track – though of course, you must spend a few days embracing the idea of being a tourist, visiting all the tourist sites and taking thousands of photos and selfies (each day)! I loved embracing the culture, the arts, the history! I went on many tours and each day I would come back with so much more knowledge and interesting facts. There is so much to do and see in London that you can’t fully appreciate the city in just a few days. You really need to take your time and enjoy it all at a leisurely pace. You end up blending in, so much so, that on numerous occasions people would stop me on the street to ask for directions!
What was the best thing you ate during your secondment?
I love a good pie and the only way to find one is by trying a lot of them! My sister and I decided to go to a different pub for Sunday lunch or dinner, order the same meal and rate them. My sister would have a Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding and gravy, and I would have a pie with mash potatoes, vegetables and gravy. It was too hard to choose the best one!
I also really enjoyed the burgers. Patty & Bun – best Strawberry & Cream Crunch milkshake and potato chips with roast chicken mayo and chicken skin salt – Five Guys – massive burger, massive serving of chips, unlimited coke – Honest Burger – rosemary potato chips – do I need to say more?!
What has been your most memorable or valuable experience at your secondment?
I was lucky to be given the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with the team members, in particular with Ted Verkade (CEO and president), Ben Lloyd (Chief Operating Officer), Murray Watt (Regional Manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa), Chris Danes (Tax Director), Lorena Pecheanu (Tax Coordinator), Ranjana Patel (Finance Manager) and Daniel Shah (Senior Manager, Global Focus). I was very thankful for them all to take the time to sit with me, explaining their roles and responsibilities and answering any questions that I had.
Do you have a standout memory from your time away?
The most memorable (and funny) experience of the secondment was that, at the time, the UK was experiencing a warmer summer than normal. Unfortunately, during the whole time I was there, the air-conditioning in the office was out-of-order and, as a result, the staff weren’t really coping that well in the heat. All the windows and emergency doors were kept wide open and portable fans were highly sought after. Some ended up leaving work early or just worked from home to escape the heat. I, on the other hand, found the 32 degree “heat wave” quite comfortable!