Following on from my ‘Future of Work’ post, I interviewed Sangeeta Mulchandani one of the 50 ‘Remote Year’ group currently in Marrakech. Sangeeta is a top strategist for banking group ANZ and is on the banks CEO talent programme. She is usually based in Melbourne, after 12 years working at the company she decided she needed a change of scene and landed upon the ‘Remote Year’ programme a chance to remote work while exploring 12 different countries over 12 months.
She told me it wasn’t easy to get onto the programme, 30,000 apply for the scheme but only 50 get picked. Having got through one hurdle she then had to convince her seniors in the very traditional banking sector to sign off her trip, taking her proposal to 11 different departments to get sign off, ‘EQ helps in these situations when trying to influence and negotiate your way through’. The biggest hurdle was getting sign up to working while in other countries with a tourist vs immigration Visa, but as there is no question at the borders currently about remote working this was pretty easy to overcome (the bank was worried about damage to reputation if she was refused entry or deported).
Six months in and she has proven the model outperforming on her measures while getting to grips with the Banking Scene in each market, making friends and having valuable experiences. ‘You bring your whole self to work, I’m not a different person at work vs home so if I’m enriched my work is enriched‘ she says.
What are the other challenges of this kind of programme I asked? Getting to grips with currency, time zones (sometimes she has to get up at 1.30 am for a call), where the local shop is let alone language and acclimatisation physically, she said. ‘I hosted a Divali night yesterday – 39 of the 50 in the group came so it was quite hectic, it’s not easy cooking Indian dishes in other countries, especially when you have to find your way around a new kitchen every month‘.
When she’s not working she can choose to join 3 ‘tracks’ which are outreach opportunities in the market, a ‘track’ can be interest based such as; food and drink, arts and crafts etc.
The programme is also committed to making a positive social impact in the markets visited, in Morocco Saengeeta and her friends from the scheme have helped to teach Atlas Mountain teenagers how to draft a CV and handle interviews; ‘its amazing they’re really ambitious I was asked how they might get into Oxford or Cambridge, this next generation believe they could do anything with a bit of help‘.
They have also volunteered with a disabled women’s cooperative who make clothes and accessories, setting up their social media profile on Facebook and teaching them how to update, as well as looking at their pricing, ‘It’s about empowering them to have a voice’ she said – the next step is crowd funding.
What are the other people on the programme like I asked? There are quite a few in their 20’s who just really want to go out and meet someone, there have a been a few inter-group relationships – they seem to burn out quite quickly though she said – ‘sounds like an A-Type ‘love Island‘ I said’
It costs $2K a month for 12 months to join the programme, your accommodation and activities are included in the price, to learn more about ‘Remote Year’ which is just 3 years old and a US based company go to https://remoteyear.com