Eddie’s Story: From South Africa to Saudi Arabia – Overseas Accountancy Careers

Eddie, originally from South Africa, and his recently married wife were living in London when they received a call from Think Global Recruitment. A few weeks later Eddie was beginning his new career in Saudi Arabia. We caught up with Eddie, recently promoted to President of his current company, to find how his career has been since. 

Eddie on sand dunes
Eddie on the sand dunes

Why did you originally decide to move overseas?

“I had just recently married my Norwegian wife who happened to be a horse lover (we still have an Arab Stallion) when Think Global Recruitment contacted me to tell me about an opportunity in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t even know where Saudi Arabia was but when I told my wife she got stars in her eyes and said let’s do it and we did! It was by chance but was the right choice for us.”

Did you have any concerns with moving overseas?

“Of course I was nervous, I didn’t even know much about Saudi Arabia. My wife got cold feet at the last minute but then we managed to turn that around. We were young and at the start of my career and it was an exciting thing to do.”

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

“It was actually relatively quick. I had two months of probation which was part of the deal before the family could join but the company were phenomenal. They made us feel right at home from the beginning to the point where my boss personally collected me from the airport. He dropped me at the villa where they even had milk and food in the fridge to make me feel at home. It was very easy to settle in and the company covered flights to go back to Norway for my wife and my daughter. There was no problem at all with schooling and the community was great. Accommodation and a car was arranged for us, so effectively we had no costs apart from food or if we wanted to have a maid.”

Did your move meet your original expectations and how?

“Very much exceeded – it was very nice to live there and it opened doors for more opportunities within the company and affiliates after that. It was absolutely the right thing to do from a professional perspective and then, of course, living was just easy there. It was wonderful living in the compound but it did bit seem a bit small as the years went on. Although I didn’t move on from Saudi by choice, I was promoted to a role in Dubai, which was a bit of a stepping stone.”

Dubai compared to Saudi Arabia

“Dubai was very different, it was a much freer society. My wife didn’t need to cover up but interestingly she didn’t like it as much. My job involved a lot of travel so she decided to go back home. I stayed on in Dubai and commuted to Norway for a few years, which I enjoyed, but I missed the kids and the family. Dubai opened up a whole world of experience for me, personally, in terms of professional and travel experience.”

al qurayyah

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

“You really can’t describe the standard of life in the Middle East. It was very luxurious and spacious and you can’t want for anything, but for us anyway, we wanted to go home. For the kids, it was invaluable the experience they had living in those countries.”

What were the highlights of your location?

“We had three sets of flights a year paid for by the company so we were able to travel anywhere in the world but there was so much to do locally as well. We saw the whole of the Middle East. You got all the things locally that people talk about, the desert, the tower in Dubai, all the good stuff – it was nice to have been a part of it.”

What culture differences did you notice?

“The one thing that for me stood out was that the locals are wonderful people. They are really hospitable and caring and want you to be looked after. I made lots of friends with Egyptians and locals from Saudi and Dubai who I’ve stayed in touch with. My wife also made friends with some of the high-flying horse people in Saudi and is in touch with them.”

Where are you located now and what is your current role?

“I ended up staying in the beverage industry in Dubai, moving to a big American corporation. After the family returned to Norway, an opportunity came up as a Finance Director for an offshore transport business back home. I was then promoted to CFO and CEO of Norway operation and just recently I’ve been promoted to president of the company worldwide!”

What, in your opinion, are the advantages of working overseas in terms of gaining future employment?

“As our Head Offices are in America, I often say to my colleagues here in Norway what I managed to get out of the Middle East experience. Americans think very differently to Norwegians but in the Middle East they have a very Americanised corporate culture so I am able to bridge that gap. I would say that has been the biggest advantage of working abroad.”

Business Meeting

What advice would you offer to finance professionals thinking about working overseas?

“Honestly, I say take the chance. Personally, I do not like it when finance people can get caught up in reporting. I’m an operational finance guy, I’ve always maintained that the finance guy should help move the business forward and then the report the numbers afterwards. Be the right-hand man and drive the business forward rather report the news. I want my finance guy to make the news not report the news. Working overseas allows you gain the experience and confidence in order to do that.”

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

“Well, I have to say, ten years on and I still remember my consultant’s name. I’ve said to my wife a few times when I’ve stepped up the ladder that if it hadn’t been for that phone call that we wouldn’t be where we are. I regret that I hadn’t contacted Think Global Recruitment or my consultant to say thanks as that was the start of my career.”

What are the advantages of applying for a job through Think Global Recruitment?

“It was quite daunting to make an overseas move and I remember it was a hand holding exercise and that helped to process forward and that even after I started the role so that’s what I would say the main advantage would be from my own experience.”


We would like to thank Eddie for sharing his story and wish him all the best for the future.

Please get in touch with us here if you would like to discuss moving overseas with one of our advisors.