I’ve grown up traveling back and forth to Europe every other year since I was 5. It was obviously easy when I had summers or winters off in school to do whatever I wanted. From practicing my British accent in London, to sweating my way through the Egyptian pyramids, to hiking up Mt. Olympus to see the Acropolis. I feel extremely lucky to have had the experiences I’ve had and wouldn’t trade them for anything. But when I graduated college 2 years ago and started working at Zenman, there was always one thing in the back of my mind; how are my bosses and colleagues going to react when they find out I’ll need to spend some time abroad (5 weeks to be exact), and would I need to forfeit these traveling adventures?
My father is originally from Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean between Turkey and Egypt. It’s my second home and the place I hold dual-citizenship for. My mom, dad, sister, and I endure the 24 hour journey every 2-3 years to visit our family, maintain citizenship, visit museums/landmarks, and ultimately spend as much time as we can at the beach. But this year I was able to add ‘working’ to that list.
Zenman has two remarkable leaders, Keith and Caitlyn, who didn’t flinch at the fact that their only Project Manager needed to spend some time away. They worked with me on devising a plan for the weeks to come and were more than willing to accommodate. I’d always known these two had built a company that ensured empathy and compassion when it came to their employees’ lifestyles, but was able to witness it first hand. They trusted me to do what I needed to do and never doubted in my ability to keep up with my responsibilities. Therefore, I committed to work as much as I could during my time overseas.
Upon arriving and settling in, I was overwhelmed by the amount of unread emails. I sifted through my inbox and quickly realized this was going to be harder than I had thought. With coworkers and clients 6,000 miles and 9 hours away, I discovered my inquiries would go unanswered for a while. I’d wake up at 6am (9pm Denver time) and plan out the team’s calendar for the following day, check in on project timelines, and ensure budgets were on track. Around noon, I had done all I could before hearing back from the team and would venture out with my family. The usual itinerary included copious amounts of Greek food, clear water beaches, visiting relatives, museums, shopping, and hitting up other tourist spots.
By the time everyone had arrived to work at 8am in Denver (5pm Cyprus time), I was able to communicate with the team, make sure they had what they needed to start their day, and join in on morning meetings – all before taking a break for dinner. After, I’d work as much as possible before bed, jumping on conference calls and follow ups while the Denver work day was still in session, then back at it again in the morning. I miraculously got in a groove and stayed in the loop on all project statuses with the help of our team.
Everyone at Zenman is to thank for making this happen and ultimately remaining patient while I was gone for 5 weeks. I would not have come back home with a job in hand without their flexibility and cooperation. Although the lack of wifi and 1am calls were tough, I couldn’t imagine a better team to be part of. This entire trip not only gave me a view into the culture of my Cypriot family, but proved to me that Zenman’s company culture is unlike any other.