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Deanna, American expatriate in France

What position do you currently hold?

I am a Consolidator in the Accounting and Management Control Department (Direction comptabilité et contrôle de gestion, DCCG) in Colombes, France. There are six of us in the team, including our boss. My main responsibilities include the monitoring and consolidation of certain entities for the quarterly financial reports, and managing the pension accounting process for the relevant subsidiaries.

I previously worked as a Financial Information Manager at Arkema Inc. in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

What is your background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting and I am a certified public accountant. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in business administration.

Which nationality(ies) do you work with?

My team is French, but working on global consolidations gives me the opportunity to work with other European nationalities as well as with the teams in North America and Asia.

How did you prepare for your move to a new country?

After accepting my new position in France, I started taking French lessons in preparation for my transfer. Having no experience with the language, I started my lessons with the basics, learning how to count and say the days of the week.

 

I also took part in a one-week orientation trip to France before my transfer to find a place to live and get to know the Colombes team.

In your opinion, what are the factors that create a successful intercultural team?

You must be open to other cultures and willing to work on understanding, accepting and learning from them in order to thrive at both the personal and team level.

What benefits and challenges did you encounter when you started working in your host country?

The benefit was that I was immediately able to learn about activities, processes and decisions on a global scale. The challenge was having to relearn accounting, this time in French.

Do you have any funny or surprising anecdotes to share with us?

I have French lessons every day. All you have to do is choose the wrong auxiliary verb and you end up telling your boss that you’re dead, when you actually meant to say you’ve completed a task. Or you pronounce something the wrong way and end up saying an inappropriate word in front of your colleagues. It makes everybody laugh, and I get a free French lesson at the same time!

 

I was also surprised to discover the importance of taking a break and having lunch with my colleagues. It’s a ritual I’ll bring back to the office when I return to the United States.

If you had to summarize your intercultural experience in a single word, what would it be?

Enlightening!

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