I have 30 minutes until we land. I quite am exhausted from over 38 hours in the air over the past two days (before flying home to Chicago, I took a week-long trip to Borneo, from which I returned to Melbourne last night on a 16 hour flight), so keep expectations low.
Six months abroad is a long time, long enough that returning “home” one can’t help but feel a bit of a foreigner. Purchasing a Starbucks coffee during my layover in LA, the Greenbacks felt unusual in my hand. Why were all the bills the same color, size, and such an awkwardly oblong rectangular shape? Why was I the only one in line paying with cash (people don’t really use credit cards for small transactions in Australia)? Why did I get a quizzical look from the barista when I unconsciously asked “How you goin’, mate?” in an effort to make pleasant conversation while awaiting my crappy, overpriced latte. (My God, I already miss Melbourne coffee, terribly). I can’t even count how many times I nearly spilled my tasteless beverage all over myself walking through the terminal—stepping left rather than right as other travelers and I walked towards each from opposite directions, resulting in either near collusions or awkward dancing from side to side rather than elegantly passing each other by. I was on multiple occasions nearly trampled and cursed on moving walkways by hurried travelers, standing to the left (people pass on the right in Australia) or approaching the wrong walkway/escalator with my dazed gaze down. A careful observer might wonder if I were some alien who had never visited the States before given the way I stumbled gracelessly through the terminal. I wonder how long it will take for this sensation to pass? I wonder if I will make it through my front door without coffee all over my shirt (or a black eye).
The benefits of the transfer experience: There is no doubt in my mind that doing an international transfer is enormously beneficial to be the transferee as well as to Bain. Over the past six months I have dramatically expanded my Bain network on an international scale (beyond just Australia) in ways that no global training could ever accomplish. Having spent six months working closely with and taking weekend trips with transfers from Bain offices around the globe, I am also thoroughly convinced that there is truly a distinctive, global Bain culture. (This is a topic I discussed at length in my former email, you may recall). I have no doubt, the global transfer program plays a part in preserving the consistency of our culture. The transfer program is also a great way to share best practices across the global system. (For example, I hope to share Australian sustainability practices with my future case teams. At joint Sydney-Melbourne AC trainings and experience sharings, it was clear that I could offer a unique perspective or tips-and-tricks that Australian ACs could not). And of course, there is the opportunity to see/live business in another part of the world. I think the benefit of this is more limited in a place like Australia (where the culture/etc. is so similar), but if one were to do a transfer to India or Brazil, for example, this would be enormously beneficial.
It goes without saying, I am very grateful to have had the opportunities that I did in Australia. I had an absolutely amazing case team, made friendships that I expect to weather the tests of time, and learned “heaps.” I will miss Australia greatly, I already do. Being a restless and adventure-seeking spirit, it is my nature not to feel truly at home anywhere; however, I have never felt quite as “at home” as I did in Melbourne. It would not surprise me in the least to find myself there again (“permanently”) some years from now.
That said, I have also missed you all and Chicago dearly and often. Receiving notes, emails, and Communicator messages from many of you brightened several cold, rainy, Melbourne winter days.
I look forward to catching up with all of you. See you all soon in my new bay (41), the kitchen, hallways, by the bathroom sink, Wine-Club Jrs, etc., etc.