Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ernst & Young

We are having fun in Brussels. I have spent a lot of time writing on our blog about Connor, our travels and life from my perspective. Yet rest assured we never forget that the central reason we are here is for Kirk to work. Our gratitude to Ernst & Young for the opportunity to live and work abroad is immense. When Kirk took the job with E&Y right out of graduate school we dared to pray for an experience like this at exactly this time in life. Just goes to show you what the power of positive goal setting can do!

Kirk does seem to be learning new things here everyday. In Atlanta he was focused on only one client, Coke. In Brussels he manages 8-9 clients so he is learning more about different industries and different aspects of an audit. His skills of time management and managing other people are even more in use. I get the sense that the international dividing line is not as bright as you might think as far as day to day operations, tasks and comprehension. But there does seem to be more dawdling and excuses from companies for not getting needed information to auditors on a timely basis. This procrastination makes deadlines less static, which makes us all a little more batty!

Busy Season isn't nearly as busy in Brussels - at least thus far. In the USA I am usually a "married bachelorette" from January thru March as the Atlanta team works 7 days and 70-80 hour weeks. I have to find projects and take girlfriend trips while Kirk works so hard his eye sockets darken. Here Kirk more has snipits of really busy and stressful times instead of a consistent push. He has had a couple of nights where he works nearly overnight in the office to prepare for a meeting or to clean up documentation. But then he has had to work only a couple of weekend days and he has been able to commit to weekend travel. That said, I sense he is always working to navigate cultural differences and expectations.

There are some good perks here: Any hours worked over 38 in a week at Kirk's level are banked and can be used as vacation or paid out as overtime. An unheard of perk for auditors in the USA! But apparently here it is Belgian law? And EVERY auditor is provided a free car and free unlimited gas within the country of Belgium. Not just the expats. Can you imagine?

Another strange phenomenon here is that Friday evenings are often the latest worknights of the week. We think it is because the Brussels traffic is so thick on Friday evenings so folks just stay and wait it out. But it drives us a little crazy. Even in the busiest times in the US, Friday nights were held sacred - TGIF, right?!? In Brussels Kirk has to stay loose because he has been called for meetings pretty regularly scheduled from 5:30 - 8:00 PM on Fridays.

But mostly I wanted to use this post to say that being here has given us even greater appreciation for the AMAZING EY Coke Team back in Atlanta. Everyone here is nice and welcoming enough - especially the fellow expats - but none come near the kindness and generosity of the Atlanta Coke team.
- I think back to when I was a new EY wife and Erika Preval, Abby Miller, Natalie Barrett, Tiffany Duncan and Angela Posner took me under their wings to show me the ropes of loving an EY Auditor.
- Mike and Tonya Danckaert were our instant dear friends and comrades in addition to being Kirk's boss.
- Beth Schiavo continues to be an amazing cheerleader, partner and mentor for Kirk's work and as a role model of a working Mom - as do Carter and Randall (hard working Dads, of course).
- Michele astounds me with her can-do attitude between running marathons and raising a new daughter.
- The celebration when Connor was born from the team was unbelievable.
- Michael, Ellie and the Gagnons were so key in the push and pull of making this abroad rotation were Carter, Beth and Randall, of course!

I know this team cares about our family as much as the quality of Kirk's work. And for that we feel incredibly blessed. We feel their love even an ocean away. We will be back before you know it!

PS - We recently got the very sad as well as the incredibly happy news of a much anticipated pregnancy realized and, unfortunately, a pregnancy lost among friends in Atlanta. We cried tears of sadness for the miscarriage and wept tears of happiness for the Miller Baby Boy. Kevin and Abbey, we are counting down the days with you. Your son is a lucky one!!!

1 comment:

Dallas said...

Sounds like a great company, and some great friends. As the trailing wife, I've seen a lot of differences between my husband's company over here from the one in Atlanta. His coworkers here are really nice, but I've only been able to meet them a couple of times. I do miss the group that Thomas worked with in Atlanta. That group had a lot more non-work social events and I got to know several of the wives. We had a great time hanging out with them there, but it's harder here, not only since the group is much smaller, but it's much more spread out. Maybe in time I will get to know them better.