Finding Your Home Away From Home At Nielsen

Emily is a Director in our Marketing Effectiveness Practice, based in London. She is responsible for winning new business and further growing existing relationships with advertisers. Additionally, she manages Nielsen’s partnership with Facebook across Europe. After completing Nielsen’s Watch Emerging Leaders Program and servicing key consumer packaged goods clients in the U.S., she made the big leap across the pond, joining Nielsen’s London office in late 2012. Moving abroad within Nielsen allowed her to stretch herself both personally and professionally. 

I’ve always wanted to work abroad. Spending a semester in Barcelona as a University student opened my eyes to both the excitement and challenges of international business and living outside of your home country. When a Nielsen leader moved from New York to start our Marketing Effectiveness business in Europe, I saw my chance. I knew joining the new team could be a fantastic opportunity because I was very familiar with our offerings after helping many clients in the U.S.

I won’t lie—I was nervous about packing up and shipping off to a new country and foreign work environment. I initially committed to a minimum of 18 months, because I wasn’t sure how I would like living and working in London. But now, I think it’s safe to say it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve been here for over three-and-a-half years, and I keep extending my visa.

The differences between the U.S. and U.K. have challenged me in the best way possible.

In the U.K., we run lean, which means everyone wears many hats. I may be in a sales role, but I also pitch in with other activities supporting our Marketing Effectiveness practice—such as running a Nielsen event or building marketing or training materials. It’s been a good learning experience and has given me a more complete picture of the business, but it’s taken some time getting used to.

Adjusting my demeanor, even ever so slightly, was also a process. On the whole, Americans tend to be louder and more aggressive than Brits. I don’t think I’m that way, but I still needed to overcome those stereotypes and build trust with my new colleagues. Being in a client-facing role, it was imperative to prove to my teammates that they could trust me enough to put me in front of their clients. That took time. As I started to build relationships, my adjustment accelerated.

Language also presented unique challenges. I’ve heard colleagues speak about complex methodology in English, even though their primary language is Italian—it’s impressive! But even in the U.K., I’ve had to accommodate language differences. An email I’d write to someone in London is very different, in terms of tonality and the wording I’d use, than if I were back in the States. For example, “Are you open to meeting next week?” becomes “Are you keen to meet?” or even “Do you fancy a coffee?”

Working overseas has given me a new view of Nielsen, in terms of the similarities and differences between our locations and people around the world. I also learned the importance of standing up for yourself, taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone. These are valuable lessons that will make me stronger in the next stages of my career.