ICI C’EST PARIS - an unforgettable experience

Eifel Tower

Saab’s launched an office in France, and being part of its start-up was an incredible experience.

I arrive in Paris, and firstly, “wow”, what a beautiful city. I am ready to start day one of my three month placement.

The first call I receive: “Tanika, you’re going to be working in Brussels for two weeks as we have no furniture yet, is that ok?” Firstly, I went into panic mode as I had just signed for an apartment in Paris and paid the deposit. I’m from South Africa, and I quickly googled the distance between Paris to Brussels (geography is definitely not my strong point).

Once I realised I could take the train, I was, no pun intended, back on track and ready to tackle anything that came my way. First lesson learnt: never be fixed on one plan or idea, and always be flexible to adapt or change because you either learn to sink or swim!

My two weeks in Brussels provided an incredible experience, learning about the European Union and how Saab plays such an important role in contributing to thinking around defence. I was fortunate enough to visit the European Commission with Carl-Johan, Manager for EU Affairs at Saab in our Brussels office, and through the momentous period of Britain voting to leave the European Union.

After two great weeks in Brussels, I returned to Paris where there was furniture, which in great Swedish tradition, still needed to be put together! If you ever need to break the ice and get to know your colleagues, try building furniture together in 37 degrees. Paris had a heat wave, for a South African this was heaven but for a French local, let’s just say this was torture.

It was an honour to be part of the real start-up of the Saab office in Paris. From being forced to speak French and order office equipment; with the stress of not 100% knowing you’ve ordered the right thing, to the relief of it being delivered and you think to yourself “I can do this!” Other highlights included; having the opportunity to do a stakeholder mapping exercise of the French defence industry, and arranging the Saab Paris office’s inauguration together with the Swedish Embassy, which takes place 6 December at Notre Dame Cathedral.

Learning about Saab in France and the future collaborations we hope to achieve, I no doubt believe this is going to be one huge success. I would encourage all future graduates to do a rotation at the Paris office, under the tutelage of Henrik Vassallo, Vice President and Head of France and Benelux. Let’s just say he doesn’t hold back and throws you into one very deep pool, and hopes you swim, and for me that’s one of the best ways to learn.

à bientôt// Tanika