Casey’s Story – New Zealand to Saudi Arabia – Overseas Accountancy Jobs

In 2009, we assisted Casey to move from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia where he lived and worked for five years. Eight years on we’ve managed to catch up with him to see how he felt about his overseas move.

Why did you originally decide to move overseas?

“Traditional OE (overseas experience) for a New Zealander was to trek over to the UK, find a normal flat and visit a few pubs. – I wanted to do something different. The way the family packages come together in the Middle East, it was a very attractive offer to us as a young family.”

Jeddah Sunset

Did you have any concerns with moving overseas?

“To be honest I didn’t really know too much about the place before I went over. But the company was great and I had a great experience. I just packed for an extended business trip then away I went. It was easy enough and it was an adventure!”

When you arrived in your location how long did it take you to settle in?

“It took around six weeks to get used to things. It was simple things like when you walk into a supermarket and you’ve got all these different products so you can get a bit disoriented. After three months, my family came over to join me and they then needed another few weeks to settle in. It’s expected to be a bit disorientating moving to a different place and it takes a while to learn the basics.”

Did your move meet your original expectations and how?

“I had no idea what to expect – it was obviously a bit of a cultural shock and a different experience but it was positive. I knew I was going to be living in a western compound but I never knew how quick and easy it would be to make friends and good friends at that. It was a close-knit community.”

What was the biggest benefit of moving?

“For me, it was experience. I was able to progress and get jobs I wouldn’t have got in New Zealand as I didn’t have the miles on the clock. To be fair, I got offered some pretty big roles so that really accelerated my career – and from there I also got the opportunity to travel a lot. I wouldn’t have got these chances if I’d stayed in New Zealand.”

Desert Sand Dune Boogie Buggy Truck

Did you feel that your move improved your standard of living?

“With the packages on offer, the disposable income was much greater so we didn’t go without. I got paid well, we had had a live-in nanny, that’s something that we don’t have back home. There was definitely a few more luxuries that you could afford so we treated ourselves. We were living in fairly big houses and drove big American style SUV’s, but it was also so hot! They’ve got some pretty nice golf courses over there and we got to travel and got to see some pretty cool spots across the globe.”

What were the highlights of your location?

“I got to do some pretty cool stuff professionally at work – we got to travel a bit I really enjoyed getting to go to the UK and Paris. We went for a family holiday where we rented a campervan and travelled from London to Inverness and back- parts of driving thriving through Scotland reminded me of central Otago. Exploring the wider Middle East region and travelling to Dubai and Bahrain were pretty cool as well.”

What culture differences did you notice?

“There is a bit of a restricted lifestyle over there but more so for my wife. Women cannot drive and people obviously dress in public differently. There was also a separation of the genders which was quite stark compared to back home. Even the way many locals drove, it would be nothing to look over and see a man cradling a baby, no seatbelt on, with one foot out the window! You would drive in the fast lane so then you can only get cut off from one direction and then you would drive quickly so you only had to worry about the cars in front of you.”

Where are you located now?

“I was out in Saudi for five years then returned home to New Zealand three years ago. I now work as a Group Financial Controller looking after the finance team for a dairy company. It’s a good role- it’s funny I learnt my diary experience in the Middle East – in the middle of the desert as opposed to New Zealand- it was my first step into commerce and I would never have got this role if it wasn’t for my experience in Saudi Arabia.”

Riyadh Kingdom TowerWhat, in your opinion, are the advantages of working overseas in terms of gaining future employment?

“It’s a different experience. It allows you to broaden your appreciation for different places and different ways of thinking. I had some opportunism with my career that I wouldn’t have got here and they paid very well.  That disposable income opened up opportunities for travel and it was all very positive.”

What advice would you offer to Accountants thinking about working overseas?

“Do your homework and do it sooner rather than later”

How did Think Global Recruitment assist you in securing your job overseas?

“You did a fantastic job to be fair- I was looking at Abu Dhabi and Dubai and my consultant helped me think it through – it worked really well. What really helped was the fact you had already assisted others to move to Saudi Arabia so you had notes and feedback of their experiences like what to expect and what to take. bit so different to home you have no idea what to expect so I really found the advice quite useful.”

All of us here at Think Global Recruitment would like to thank Casey for sharing his story and wish him all the best for the future. If you would like to share your story or find out more about different locations around the globe contact us here.