I am the first Canadian employee to work at nine.ch in Canada, and I would like to share my experience of visiting Switzerland and training for the job.
The first hurdle when applying for any job is attending the interviews. Zurich is 9 hours ahead of Kelowna, which is situated in western Canada; therefore, the meeting time had to be either early in the morning or late at night. Luckily, technologies such as the internet, email and Skype allowed me and some of the team at nine.ch to connect and get to know each other over the 8,000 km distance. Once I was offered the position, I travelled to nine.ch’s head office in Zurich for one month to learn about nine.ch’s corporate policies, procedures, culture and values that I am now implementing in the Kelowna office.
Although I have visited several countries outside of Canada, I had never been to Europe before my visit to Switzerland. Of course, I had heard about the Alps, chalets and lakes from media as well as from discussions with others who have visited. Knowing about popular exports from Switzerland (such as cheese, chocolate, watches and army knives), I anticipated a working environment where quality is high on the priority list.
Here are some of the differences that I found between Zurich and Kelowna:
I found Zurich to be very expensive. Basic essentials, transportation and accommodation prices are much greater than costs I have encountered when travelling within Canada, USA and other countries.
I appreciated the amazing public transportation in Zurich - buses, trams and trains are all extremely easy to use. I could travel to anywhere in Switzerland by train in about 4 hours or less, and I could just as easily travel to another country (or two) over the weekend. Transportation is one thing I wish was better in Canada, but it is difficult to achieve because of such vast distances within the country.
As in many large cities of the world, the people in Zurich tend to keep to themselves in public places, so I only had a few chances to interact with anyone outside of nine.ch. However, at nine.ch everyone was immediately a friend and showed an incredible amount of hospitality. When I shared my plans of where I was going on the weekend, I would receive great tips, such as “try the fondue” or “don’t forget a pass for the toll highway”.
The work ethic of my colleagues at nine.ch is somewhat different than what I’ve been accustomed to in Canada. Everyone at nine.ch is genuinely passionate about what they do and they work as a team to ensure that the best quality of work possible is delivered. For example, I was fortunate to spend a day with the datacenter team. During my tour, it was very clear they take great pride in nine.ch’s infrastructure. The data centre is well planned out and well documented; I see it as a work-of-art (okay, maybe I’m showing a little too much of my geek side here). If you take a look at the team page, the background of our headshots is the actual data centre (no photoshop!).
Members of the operations team (myself now included) are also passionate about being experts in their field. During my training, I was encouraged to ask anyone questions, and when I did, everyone would ensure I received an accurate and detailed answer.
My whole visit to nine.ch and Switzerland was a positive one. I am inspired to be part of such a passionate team and excited to bring nine.ch’s philosophy and work ethic back to Canada. Although I’ve only been back in Canada for a few weeks, I already can’t wait to return to Switzerland some day.