Blog – Spending a week in Korea was a real eye-opener

Quest is an international transfer program which connects Arcadians from all over the world. Quest is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation. Every week we are highlighting one of the stories our employees who went on an exchange. In this blogpost we cover the Quest story of Chris Mattock who traveled from Brighton (UK) to Seoul (South Korea).

Why did I apply for a Quest

I found out about the Quest programme from a number of colleagues, and it sounded like a great opportunity being offered by Lovinklaan the largest shareholder of Arcadis. With our global presence, in 70 different countries, it offers a huge scope for connecting with other people in the business, learning more about what we do and sharing knowledge. From a personal point of view the main triggers were having the chance to gain knowledge of working on a major project, experiencing the cultural differences between regions and better understanding the nuances of working and living in Asia.

“In one phrase, at least, I would call My Quest – eye-opening”

Highlight of my quest experience

The highlight of my Quest was getting to know the team in Korea. Having the chance to understand how other people around the world fitted into our global family was a great reward, and helping them learn more about my experiences and connecting them with my network was very rewarding.

Learnings and experiences

I picked Korea as they have some really interesting projects coming up in a different region and sector. The largest of these, and the biggest influence on my decision, being Inspire – a $2.5 billion resort that Arcadis are commercially managing on the outskirts of Seoul – it’s vast in size featuring several hotels, a concert arena, parks, casinos, a shopping complex, a purpose-built island and a theme park – due to break ground next month.

I started my Quest experience really early on a Thursday morning (7AM to be precisely). After landing I headed straight to our small office in the Gangnam district of Seoul. As Scheme Design was being finalised the team was drowning in last minute revisions; everyone was busy working which gave me the chance to get involved in foundation measurement for probably the first time in a decade. The staff in our office was friendly and encouraging, which seemed to be a Korean characteristic.

The evenings and weekend offered me the chance to explore Seoul: seeing the sights, trying local food and drinks, visiting the markets and taking a trip up the 5th tallest building in the world to soak up the vastness of the city as well as meeting some of the team members in a more social setting.

Victor Stranger, the Head of Country, was the perfect host – helping me to better understand the project, explaining the cultural nuances of working in Asia and giving me the chance to try the local food – which is incredible. Alan Hearn, the Regional Head of East Asia & India, also made a visit to the Seoul office and presented the vision for Arcadis Asia’s future to the team.

The last couple of days have given me the chance to offer a little help to the team in Seoul; their heavy and often sporadic work load (and sometimes limited resources) resulted in long hours, so I took the opportunity to help connect them with some colleagues I had worked with from the Global Excellence Centre in Manila, that will hopefully lend them a helping hand in the future. We also discussed the difficulties of rebranding as well as overcoming the problems of being geographically isolated from the rest of the business. These topics are similar to experiences I have had within Arcadis, so it was great to share ideas on how to capitalise on change and seize new opportunities.

It’s been a great learning experience here and a privilege to meet some of my colleagues from Asia – and I will be maintaining the contacts I’ve made here, you never know when the opportunity to collaborate may arise…

The international transfer program Quest, which connects Arcadians from all over the world, is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation.

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