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Women Working Overseas: Meet Rebecca Lane

In response to PwC’s findings that women have a lack of role models in the global mobility sector, we’re showcasing positive stories of women who’ve lived and worked internationally. While each experience is unique, every story maintains a common thread of deep personal growth, which has had a lasting impact throughout the lives of each of the women profiled.

“I’ve always been fairly independent, and I love travelling,” says Rebecca Lane a People and Culture consultant with over 18 years’ experience in HR and culture and performance coaching. She has spent a great deal of her life working and travelling internationally.

She started her career working in HR for some of the worlds major banks including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and ABN AMRO before switching industries and joining the food and beverage giant, Lion in 2009. Now, Rebecca runs her own consulting firm, Brick Lane Consulting.

Rebecca experienced her first international assignment early on. Having already started working with Goldman Sachs during university, she was sent to Hong Kong for a summer internship over her break. The experience led her to start the HR function at Goldman Sachs back in Sydney upon her return and effectively launched her career working with big banks.

However, this wasn’t her first time living and working overseas.

“I did a gap year by myself living in Greece as a waitress,” she says. “It was between high school and university, and it certainly gave me the flavour and the taste for living overseas and embracing new cultures and consistently wanting to travel.”

This time spent abroad showed Rebecca how important travel could be for her personal and professional development, and she still cites it as one of the major factors in her career trajectory.

The need for early mobility opportunities

After graduating university, Rebecca moved on to Deutsche Bank where she stayed for a couple years. It was during this time, whilst traveling in New Zealand, that she met her now- husband, who is British, and developed plans to move to the UK.

“At the level [I was], there was certainly no global mobility options or opportunities,” she says.

 “So, I resigned and we took off for London via South and North America.”

For Rebecca, a thirst for travel was always equal to her drive and career ambitions, so making the leap to work overseas made sense.

Rebecca’s story is relatively common. PwC found 33% of organisations don’t currently offer early mobility opportunities, despite 74% of workers (both women and men) stating their preferred time to be sent on international assignment would be in the first six years of their careers.

“[Family] is certainly one of the reasons I chose to do it in my 20s rather than my 30s,” she says.

This is in line with the findings in the PwC report. Both men and women would prefer to be deployed early in their careers to ensure a more stable family life later on.

When Rebecca’s goals to travel and gain more experience in her field were not supported by her company, she took matters into her own hands.

“Within a week of being in London, I landed a job – a really good job – at ABN AMRO, a Dutch bank which was just on the cusp of the GFC,” she says. “Within 9 months, I was promoted and was gaining experience that I would otherwise not have had if I had stayed in Australia.”

PwC says “It’s crucial that companies get early mobility right.” Stories like Rebecca’s prove this importance. Without offering opportunities for international assignments, it’s likely that companies will find it increasingly more difficult to attract and retain young talent.

International assignments promote growth opportunities

During her two years living and working in London, Rebecca worked for ABN AMRO amid the Global Financial Crisis and at a time when a large consortium of banks all merged together and ended up working for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

“I had wonderful exposure to the changing platform across Europe due to the merger,” she says “And at a very young age I was able to really launch my career.”

Due to her timing and location, Rebecca was thrust into a changing landscape, which meant she gained real-world skills in a high-stakes environment.

“For me in particular, managing the complexity of a larger workplace, working across Europe and multiple cultures, across many languages and employment legislation really opened up my world.

It really allowed me to navigate complexity differently. I’m far more patient. My stakeholder management and relationships are certainly more built on trust, I think I developed my softer skills and my ability to have patience.”

When Rebecca moved back to Australia in 2009, she was able to leverage these experiences to enter a new industry, landing a job with Lion.

“Lion is incredibly well known for their talented people and their achievement culture. And I was so fortunate to be successful as People and Culture roles in their team are hotly contested.

“I think without that experience in London they wouldn’t have even looked at me. They usually only recruit from within. But because I had such great experience overseas, I was able to transfer into their world at a young age and I had a fantastic career with them.”

Pursuing work overseas

Rebecca recommends a stint working overseas to anyone with the inclination.

“My advice would be to take a chance and be courageous,” she says. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

For Rebecca, these experiences have had a lifelong impact.

“I still go to London, and parts of Europe every year,” she says.

“It’s planted a foundation in me. We choose to go back to where we lived and where we had restaurant dinners. I’m obsessed.”

Photographs courtesy of Rebecca Lane
Article by Bree Caggiati

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