You’ll probably have read plenty of articles or seen the friendliness of Island culture reflected in countless TV shows, but what is the corporate culture like? In other words, what sort of environment can you expect to find if you work somewhere like Bermuda, the BVI or Cayman Islands? Here we give you the inside story as to why you should embrace what’s on offer.
Professional development is key
The first thing to note – at the big accounting firms, for example – is that professional development is key. The internal and external training programs are first class.
Training is geared to bring a diverse workforce up to speed with everything they need to know: learning about different financial services sectors – such as funds, banks and insurance – the international reporting environment, the use of cutting-edge bespoke technology and, of course, inductions into Island life. There’s a lot to learn but you’ll emerge all the better for it, and much more confident.
A collaborative environment
Most of your colleagues, as well as clients, will probably also be expats and this means you’ll be working with professionals having a similar outlook to your own. This lends itself to the connected mind-set that exists at most firms, where group achievement of the overall goal is much more important than who did which part. It’s truly a team effort.
Helpful colleagues to guide you
Firms have some form of ‘buddy’ system in place, which means that every newcomer will have a mentor to guide him or her through the unfamiliar early stages of working life on the Island. This is helpful as you get to find out the unvarnished truth of anything you ask; and, of course, the time will come when you can pass on the benefit of your own experience to somebody else, reinforcing the collegiate, supportive environment that everyone benefits from.
Make executive connections
Beyond the official support you get from your managers in the office, you’ll find that the approachable ‘small town’ feel of working in offshore business centres readily lends itself to meeting important decision-makers within your – and other – organisations. (And remember that a lot of firms will have senior executives located on or visiting the Islands to carry out their corporate decision-making activities such as Board meetings.) Whether this happens by the coffee machine in the office (which is likely to be much more intimate than a mega-block in London or New York), at the airport or informally at the beach, you’ll find that you have greater opportunities to pick the brains of those in charge.
Flexibility and work/life balance
It’s important to understand that professional firms on the Islands recruit talent not only in order to get things done but also to make a difference to the future of the business. Every hire is made with a view to the future. Clock-watching is not an option and in case you’re curious, Yes overtime will certainly be required during busy periods to ensure that client deadlines are met.
That said, outside of deadlines, you can be assured of enjoying a truly superb work/life balance. An improved quality of life is, after all, one of the reasons why many newly-qualifieds seek out these opportunities despite the sometimes fierce competition.
As long as your employer knows that you can be counted on to deliver during times when it is busy, there will be other times of the year – for example, when it is quieter and you have visitors – when a blind eye may be turned to let you disappear early to go to the golf course. And where else can you be at the beach with your friends within 5 minutes of closing the office door? Some of the management companies even operate flexible ‘half-day Fridays’ in the summer where most of the staff will take off at lunchtime until Monday, in addition to dress-down days when you can relax and feel more casual.
Diversity is part of the deal
Given that young professionals will be coming from countries such as Canada, the UK, the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, Zimbabwe and beyond, it won’t be a surprise to realise that the corporate culture is extremely vibrant, diverse and welcoming to people of different backgrounds: it’s much more important where you are going then where you come from.
As part of their corporate social responsibility, many firms participate in Island-wide charitable events, either to raise funds or awareness for different issues. Taking part as a volunteer is encouraged and, depending on the nature of the event, you can take time off from the office to make a difference helping the local community.
All of this adds up to a superbly supportive and engaging environment in which to live and work. Find out for yourself!