Young man in green T-shirt holding Aon mug and smiling against graphic mural background.
Luca Salvetti. Image: Aon

What is a secondment and how can it benefit your career?

12 Aug 2019

A secondment could really benefit your career by allowing you to experience a different working environment and develop new skills.

Have you considered a secondment? If you haven’t, you should.

A secondment, for those who aren’t aware, is the temporary transfer of an official or worker to another role, another office or even another company entirely.

So why is this a good career option? A change of scenery has many different benefits. You’ll have the opportunity to observe a different approach to work, develop new skills and possibly be exposed to a different culture.

‘I knew it would be invaluable from a career perspective’

This was certainly the experience of Luca Salvetti, an application developer at the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics. Here, he speaks about moving briefly from Dublin to his company’s Singapore office, and how the experience was truly enriching professionally.

Where are you from and what has been your journey so far?

I am originally from Italy where I grew up in a small town called Rieti, which is situated close to Rome. After completing my master’s degree in electronic engineering, I decided to move to Ireland, mainly to learn English.

After about six months, I felt that Ireland was the best place for me to settle. It offered me great opportunities and resulted in my decision to start my career as a software developer – that was over eight years ago!

When I left Italy, one of my other goals was to travel and explore other cultures. Recently, while working with Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA) in Dublin, I was fortunate to be offered a secondment as an application developer to our other office in Singapore.

How long did you relocate for and why?

Initially, my secondment was for one month but happily it extended to more than 7 weeks. My reasons for taking on this secondment were two-fold.

The position in Singapore was somewhat different to my job in Dublin – although it was going to be a challenge I also knew it would be invaluable from a career perspective. The job was a co-ordinating role, which involved introducing the various technologies we have in Dublin to the Singapore office.

The second reason I jumped at this secondment was the opportunity to combine my work with travelling around Asia. This secondment for me was a great experience and I would highly recommend to anyone that is given the opportunity to travel with work to do so!

Describe your role in Aon.

My role within the ACIA is that of an application developer. My work involves building different web-based applications for the centre that leverages the data on various internal platforms.

In Singapore, my role was more about guiding the team there in best practices for their solution. It involved coordinating and mentoring the team on what we do in the ACIA in Dublin, the technologies and tools we use and exploring how the team in Singapore could implement them.

What do you like most about your job and what are the challenges?

One of the things I really enjoy about my job is the specific tasks that I get given, based on the client’s specifications. These tasks can vary depending on the request, which is good as my work is not repetitive.

I was able to use the knowledge I have gained at the Dublin office to help colleagues in Singapore adapt and learn about the technologies that we use. It was a great experience to collaborate with the team and teach them different tools.

‘Being part of a different group project was very interesting, and seeing the other side of the world that I have never seen before was a complete bonus and I really value the experience’

One of the challenges that I do face is a tight timeline with projects, which I experienced in Singapore as I was there for seven weeks. I set myself a goal to see at least one of their solutions up and running before I returned back to Dublin. There was a lot to do, but I felt that the planning and meetings went well, and that’s how we stayed on track to deliver our goal.

What were the major differences between your previous location and your new one?

If I am speaking about the offices in Dublin and Singapore, there honestly isn’t much of a difference. The layout is similar and it is an open floor plan in the office.

There are a lot of things to do in Singapore and you have so many beautiful countries around you to explore on the weekend. I would get a flight on the weekends to travel to Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, just to name a few. It was fantastic! It was so easily accessible and [there were] cheap flights to go and explore the countries around.

How did your working life and other supports help to make you feel at home there?

When I arrived in Singapore, I felt a warm welcome immediately by my colleagues. I met everyone on the team and they were all open-minded and willing to learn from me. I didn’t know anyone on a personal level but now I keep in contact with a lot of the colleagues over in Singapore.

They brought me for many lunches and dinners – it was great to network outside an office environment and the food was delicious. I ate a variety of cuisine that I have never even tried before.

What did you enjoy the most about your relocation?

The best part about Singapore was the city itself, there was so much to do and so much to see. I will definitely be back at some stage.

From all the colleagues that I have met in my many years in this company, I feel that they all create a positive work culture. Being part of a different group project was very interesting, and seeing the other side of the world that I have never seen before was a complete bonus and I really value the experience.

What advice would you give to others who are planning to relocate for work?

The advice I would give to someone who is planning to relocate would be to include yourself in all activities that are provided to you through work and outside of work.

I was given the opportunity to attend a conference in Singapore and it was in the zoo. It was insane, we had breakfast with the animals and then lunch. The best thing about it was the whole company was included. If you get an opportunity such as I did – take it!

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