When doing the assignment abroad – at another company

Therese Ottosson

During my first year at Saab, I’d heard things about the T-X programme every now and then. Sure, I knew a bit, but to be honest, I didn’t know very much besides the basics. But it has always made me interested and curious. I was therefore really excited when I found out I was going to spend five weeks within the T-X programme at Boeing’s office in St Louis, US.

For those of you that have not heard about T-X, it is the advanced trainer aircraft that Boeing - in partnership with Saab - is developing to meet the needs of the United States Airforce (USAF). This is a partnership that goes back to 2013 when we first agreed to develop, manufacture and do all the tests necessary for this completely new aircraft. This makes us pretty unique amongst our competition. Because that’s the thing: since we're building an entirely new aircraft, we are not only making ourselves unique, we are also signing up on a tight schedule. This means challenging ourselves – both individually and organisationally – in a way Saab has not done before.

And this is where I fell totally in love with the programme, I got so incredibly impressed. I mean, how can we possibly do all this in such little time? And after my weeks in St. Louis, I have come to believe that it is the unbelievable amount of knowledge, drive and enthusiasm that I witnessed there that made it possible.

Nervously taken picture the moment before joining a lindyhop dance class in this fancy ballroom with live music.
Nervously taken picture the moment before joining a lindyhop dance class in this fancy ballroom with live music.

The people I met within the programme - both Saab and Boeing employees - have so much more than just these three qualities. They were all very welcoming and inclusive, making me feel like a part of the team from day one. And since I wasn’t only visiting a new site – but another company’s site - being included was more important than I could ever have imagined. This also made me reflect over how Swedes are when it comes to expats at our sites back home. I mean, grabbing a meal together is most often enough for the person visiting to feel more included, but do we do that? I know I can do better.

Even though I met these great colleagues that I did all of these great things with (barbeque party, lindy hop classes and concerts etc.), you do spend a lot of time on your own when being on a rotation abroad. And boy, have I grown during these experiences. I thought participating in a graduate programme would be developing, but not to this extent. For example: before these assignments abroad, I wouldn’t even have considered going out for a meal all by myself. And if someone would have told me I was going to go on a five hour road trip to Nashville on my own during this year, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second. But I did - and I am so proud of myself.

I guess that what I want to say is that it feels like it is all falling into place, when we’re now newly graduated graduates, entering the world of Saab. It’s been a real joy to develop – both professionally and individually – and get to see all of my wonderful graduate colleagues develop too. I’m not only a newly graduated graduate; I’m a newly graduated graduate with nine new friends for life. And when I now enter my department as a Strategic Sourcing Manager, I’ll be – to my great joy - working within the T-X programme!

/Therése Ottosson