Going abroad for a job: an interview with two scc employees who took the leap to Switzerland

Switzerland. Most people associate it with the cliché of fondue and raclette, chocolate and cheese, luxury watches and banks, but also with a spectacular landscape. For us, there is one more thing: we have recently started to associate it with ourselves. With scc. We have expanded our professional playing field with a new branch. In line with the growth in the number of employees and their knowledge, skills and experience on site, SAP also appointed us as an official partner in Switzerland a few months ago. And: we were not only able to recruit new local employees, but also rely on experienced ones. Those who dared to emigrate and are willing to actively help build up a new location. We call them our scc pioneers. And we asked two of them for an interview. Let’s go!

The scene of the action: our scc branch in Switzerland

First of all, we would like to remind you of the location: our office in Zurich. It is located in Nordstrasse, not far from the banks of the Limmat, and just a stone’s throw from the main railway station or the Church of Our Lady. Here, behind the blue shutters of the white building, we can now continue to grow and develop on an entire floor. And here, in the heart of Zurich, eleven employees from Switzerland, Austria and Germany are currently at work – including Cathrin and Stephan. Let us briefly introduce them to you:

She works in the Finance and Controlling business unit and also came to Switzerland for these modules. As her first customer appointment took place during a go-live - a rather unusual scenario - she was able to immerse herself quickly and deeply in a new project. Now that the hypercare phase is complete, she is based in the customer's IT department and supports Accounts Payable and the Finance team in terms of implementations and improvement

He has been with scc since 2019 and his specialization in SAP Digital Manufacturing means that he is also still needed in Austria. The main features of his area of responsibility have therefore remained the same. He continues to work on existing projects. However, new things have also quickly opened up in Switzerland.

From two who set out to develop the scc & themselves

And now we are jumping right into the wealth of experience of our scc pioneers.

Why did you decide to do this?

Stephan For me, curiosity and a thirst for adventure were the driving forces. However, my girlfriend was against it at first. I then listed all the advantages to her. And so the two of us ended up going to Switzerland. Looking back, we both say it was the right decision. Simply getting out of the familiar environment and into the unknown. You also learn a lot on a personal level and can restructure everything.

Cathrin I already have some expat experience under my belt, as I lived in Malaysia for two years - albeit unmarried and without children at the time. At that time, it was a one-hour decision. This time I took more time to think about it, especially because there are now children involved and they are being torn away from their familiar surroundings. But: when this email came asking if anyone was interested, all the family members immediately called out: Yes! So there was a good basic motivation right from the start. And so the decision wasn't that difficult after all, because everyone knew it could be a nice adventure. I also think that once you've had such an experience abroad, it's perhaps a little easier to make the decision the next time you have the opportunity. Sure, it can be challenging, but it's also incredibly rewarding. And we wanted to show this to our children so that they might take advantage of such career opportunities later on. I think it's a great idea for the scc to take this step. And to do it in such a way that synergies can be exploited.

How did friends and acquaintances react?

Stephan Many people were surprised at first. But we quickly agreed that we would take it in turns to visit each other. It was a little more difficult to find a replacement for me in the clubs, as I was a long-standing member of the volunteer fire department, the Red Cross and the scouts. But it all worked out.

Cathrin Nobody was completely surprised - because of my previous history. However, I have often been told: "Oh wow, a woman with two children does that!" That happens more often with men. But in the end, everyone took it positively.

You were able to see everything in advance, weren't you?

Cathrin Yes, and I found that very valuable. As a family, you could see the whole thing in advance, get a feel for what to expect and take a look at the surroundings, the housing situation and the schools. That eased the uncertainty, and that was ultimately the decisive factor for us to say: Let's give it a go!

Stephan Yes, and Georg, the head of the Swiss branch, was also very generous and helped me make initial contacts, which also made it easier for my girlfriend to find a job.

Were there any points of contact with Switzerland before that?

Stephan My father already had professional contacts with Switzerland, and these contacts turned into friendships. That's why I was often on vacation in Switzerland as a child.

Cathrin Kind of, my previous employer's headquarters were in Geneva. But although that's also Switzerland, it feels a bit different. Linguistically and culturally.

What challenging preparations had to be mastered?

Stephan (laughs) The clarification of tax aspects can be described as extremely exciting.

Cathrin I can confirm that this is a challenging topic.

Stephan Apart from departure tax, residence permits and the like, the search for accommodation is challenging. In Switzerland, it is customary to first go to viewings, to be put through like many others and only then to receive the piece of paper with which you apply.

Cathrin We would not have been able to submit the letter of application if we had not disclosed the employer and contact person of both people who wanted to move in. It was therefore very valuable that Georg helped us with this. What struck me positively was that we live here in a town with 11,000 inhabitants and even the municipal employees know us by name, after all, so many things are done there personally. So there is a great deal of transparency and a much closer relationship with the municipality.

What were you most looking forward to?

Cathrin To the lake! Living by the lake and the sporting opportunities. I think that's fantastic. Professionally, I was looking forward to being involved in new projects and at the same time knowing that the location would also grow as a result.

Stephan I see it the same way. We are a small, informal team - that's very pleasant. And I live right next to the Rhine Falls - the scenery is also a dream. I also appreciate the beautiful old towns here. Great importance is attached to preserving them.

What were you most afraid of?

Cathrin I was worried about whether every child would like it here, whether they would make friends and whether everything would work out at school. Fortunately, everything turned out very well and I've only had good experiences with the school system so far.

Stephan Dem kann ich mich nur anschließen. Angst war nie wirklich da, allenfalls Respekt vor der Veränderung. Und ich hoffte, dass es auch meiner Freundin gefallen würde.

What did you find easier than you thought?

Stephan The language was easier for me than I had imagined. Of course, I don't know all the dialects yet and the Zurich dialect is considered one of the easier ones, but all in all I get on well with it.

Cathrin (laughs) Okay, a completely different approach to the topic than mine! I thought to myself beforehand: what could be so difficult about it, it's German! But it requires a lot of concentration, especially in situations where there are a lot of Swiss people together discussing substantive topics. On the other hand, the Swiss are incredibly charming and considerate. My children actually speak High German at school, but they can already speak Swiss German much better than I can. And they really enjoy talking to each other in this "secret language". I also have to confess: As soon as we arrived here, the school gave us a piece of paper with instructions on what to bring. I actually needed the Google translator for part of it!

Apart from the language - what cultural aspects surprised you?

Stephan Of course, there are also outliers, but I've found that the Swiss are a little more reserved - at least at first. Nevertheless, I didn't find it too difficult to make new contacts, provided you make an effort. For example, I'm often at the climbing gym or at events and meet new people there.

Cathrin I don't see them as being that reserved, rather amical. But of course it all depends on who you meet and in what context. Some people warned me that it could be difficult to make friends in a village. But I was pleasantly surprised. And there were lots of points of contact right from the start, especially with the children.

Stephan One curious event we attended was the so-called "Knabenschießen". This is a kind of folk festival where children and young people hold a shooting competition. And it's a really big thing in Zurich.

Cathrin Shooting sports for children and young people are rather unusual for Austrians. In Switzerland, however, this is a big issue.

Is there anything you miss about Austria?

Cathrin Not professionally, because Austria and the scc are so close to Austria. And if you feel the need to exchange ideas, then you just do it. Perhaps not necessarily physically, but by means of a call, for example. It's also a great strength of the scc that the environment is so cooperative. And in my private life, I love my running partner. And of course my grandparents, who were heavily involved in childcare in Austria! Fortunately, they come to visit us every few weeks.

Stephan I feel the same way about sport. I set up a climbing group in Austria - and that's no longer possible. But I'm trying to do something similar in Switzerland. The other thing I'm missing out on are the cheese and liver cheese sandwiches, because they don't exist in Switzerland.

Have you already had a chance to explore Switzerland?

Cathrin (laughs) Yes, I'll start by listing all the clichés: I've already lost count of how many fondues and raclettes I've had here. But above all, I love the nature - we've already discovered a lot in the immediate vicinity. And we couldn't miss the Läderach factory, so the next cliché: chocolate. My children have also marked in a book which destinations they would like to see next.

Stephan We've already done a lot and have been somewhere different pretty much every weekend. First of all, we visited the larger cities.

What else is on the agenda?

Stephan Lots of hikes and climbing tours! And we also want to visit some of the many lakes. My plan would also be to get a motorboat or sailing license so that I can sail on Lake Constance.

Cathrin I would have set myself the same goal.

How long do you want to stay?

Stephan We have no concrete plans in this regard. We really like it here and it suits our current stage of life perfectly. Everything else remains to be seen.

Cathrin I agree with that.
back to our blog