Living in the thick of it in Dubai
For people in search of career acceleration, there’s nothing quite doing a stint in Dubai, a magnet for expatriates keen to gain exposure to other cultures, modes of thinking, industries, and clients—those of AlixPartners included, as Florent Delaunay, Senior Vice President in the Automotive and Industrial group, can attest.
Florent trained as an engineer in France and began his career doing financial auditing before joining Renault, where he traveled 80 percent of the time—from France to South America, Europe, the Maghreb, India, and Mexico—until he hit a more senior level and found himself rooted to the corporate headquarters.
Preferring to work on a project-based model—on location and solving challenges in real time—he joined AlixPartners seven years ago, bringing his deep experience in the automotive industry to the company’s industrial consumer products practice.
When the opportunity arose to help expand the AlixPartners Dubai office, he put up his hand.
In the UAE, “you meet people from all over the world, and everyone is looking to integrate and to work together as smoothly as possible,” he says.
The city is engineered to facilitate these professional tours of duty, with seamless relocation services and support staff for families. “Everything is brand new and there’s almost no traffic,” says Florent of the purpose-built city. “There's a lot of turnover with all the transfers. It's done for you to settle quite fast and easy, to have a life with no worries.”
There’s ample entertainment on weekends to keep you busy, and flights home are easy to hop on the odd weekend.
On top of that, AlixPartners’ “one firm” mode of bridging its offices across the world means that leadership and regional heads work to facilitate movement from one office to another.
At AlixPartners, you “consider everyone as colleagues, whether they're from your office or from the office at the opposite side of the world,” says Florent, “and it's extremely important because we sell expertise. To bring the most value to the client, you need to be able to have a strong network within the firm.”
AlixPartners supports the movement of staff around the globe, and the culture reinforces it. “When you transfer to other offices, you are very welcomed by the local team,” he says. “They make your life extremely easy to transfer, to settle.”
Moving geographies sets the stage for an impressive amount of cross-pollination and industry learning, says Florent, who finds the Middle East offers an interesting vantage on the evolving automotive sector.
The race to engineer a cheaper, better, autonomous electric car is taking place in China, Europe and the U.S., but the Middle East has tasked itself with decarbonization. From investments by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in climate-tech challenges to the NEOM vision of a green hydrogen facility in Saudi Arabia, ambitious ideas are being put into action.
Engagement with projects across the globe is important for continuing to grow your expertise as a company and as an individual, says Florent. “It's a win of course for the client, because they have the best expertise” devoted to their cause, but just as crucially, he argues, it’s a win for AlixPartners, which sees a level of cultural growth across its teams.
Florent thrives on change and living in a hub for international activity but finds there is value for junior and senior players alike without the same wanderlust.
“It’s important to work on projects that are cross-offices from time to time, this is how you build your internal network and expertise,” says Florent.