After closing my adventure in Asia, a new chapter begins
In September 2019, I arrived in Singapore, bringing with me some books, clothes, and plenty of dreams, plans, and illusions. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and last month I left Asia to return to my native Spain.
After more than 20 years of living in other cities, in Spain and abroad, I have decided to settle back again in my hometown, Bermeo, on the Basque coast by the Bay of Biscay.
I always wanted to live and work in Asia and get to know the region well. I had travelled extensively throughout the region, backpacking and the like, but you only get to know the peoples and the cultures of a place when you live and work there, so when I got the opportunity to do so with my company, Sodexo, I jumped at it.
Many people will tell you Singapore isn’t the real Asia, but I thought it was a good starting point.
It is diverse, with elements from different Asian cultures, and it is very well situated to travel anywhere in the region. My role was regional, so I’d have the opportunity to travel and work with people from different countries. It was a role that would allow me to get exposed to the dazzling diversity of the Asia-Pacific region and do it while doing something I love, supporting the business in all HR matters.
What was there not to like?
It took me a while to get used to the different working ways in Asia.
I was positively surprised by the can-do attitude everybody seemed to have, be it in China, India, or Vietnam. While in Europe, I found many people looked at why or how something wouldn’t work; in Asia, people seemed to get on with it and find the solution or just make it work.
In Asia, I found a dynamism and a pace I hadn’t seen in Europe.
With this quick pace, the first few months passed in the blink of an eye.
I met some great people, travelled to a handful of countries, faced a few challenges at work, and learned a lot. All was going well, and I loved it. Then a new coronavirus appeared first in China, and quickly afterwards, it started to spread to other countries.
The rest is history. We all know how it continues: weeks of lockdowns, not travelling anymore, working with colleagues based in different countries remotely, etc.
During the pandemic, I spent too much time alone. I am an introvert who enjoys alone time, my time with myself is invaluable, but I realised that I need human company as much as anybody else.
The pandemic was forced solitude, and it was too much for me.
A new chapter
As I have already explained, writing these articles for this blog kept me sane during this time.
Starting this blog was one of the best things that came out of this terrible pandemic for me. Another great thing is that I reflected a lot about my life and where it was going, and I put my priorities in the right order.
I realised that discovering the world was great, but being close to my family, friends, and loved ones was even more important for me. I also realised writing and coaching were at the top of my priority list, so I wanted to do more of them.
I had some conversations with my managers at Sodexo, who were always very understanding and supportive, and we finally reached an agreement that I believe is to the benefit of all. I will take on a new global role in charge of Talent Management for the Corporate Services segment, and I will be based in Spain, close to my loved ones.
This will allow me to continue working on talent, people development, future of work, coaching, and all the things I am passionate about in the company I love, close to the people I also love.
I am already back at home, but I will be officially starting this new chapter of my life in September. I am very excited about it.
A Bitter Sweet Symphony
There is a great song by The Verve called Bitter Sweet Symphony.
In the last weeks in Singapore, I had it constantly in my mind. All in my life was part of a bittersweet symphony.
I was eager to get back home and start a new chapter in my life, but I was also sad to part from so many friends, places, and experiences. I would go to a café, a park, or a place I liked, and I would think, “this is the last time I’ll do this in who knows how long, maybe forever.”
Same with people. I met some wonderful people in Singapore and Asia overall. Some of them I can now call friends, and I know I’ll be in touch with them forever. Many others were passengers with me in a small part of this journey we call life; circumstances and timing put us together, and it was nice sharing these moments with them.
I will miss all of you.
That’s why the moment I boarded that plane to Bilbao via Amsterdam, I was excited and happy because that long-desired moment of going back home had arrived, but I also was sad and gloomy.
It was bittersweet, no better word to describe it.
What about the writing?
In this new life I’m embarking on, I have blocked some time every week to continue writing for this blog.
I love doing this, so I hope to be able to do it regularly. The last few weeks have been a transition and adjustment time (even some much-needed beach, relaxation and disconnect time), so I haven’t been able to write much, but I promise I will be doing so, hopefully as frequently as before.
I have recharged my batteries, and I am ready to keep on writing about the future of work, coaching, leadership, and what it means to be human and humane.
I hope to continue seeing you all here in this new chapter of my life.
Very pleased to work with you over last few years in APAC, THANK YOU for all the support, knowledge sharing and guidance. Wishing you all the very best for your new role.
Thanks for sharing, Iker!
New chapters are so exciting, full of diverse feelings. I wish you all the best and looking forward to reading further articles from you.
Thank you Anna! Hope everything is good!
Iker me alegra saber vuelves a España y lo que está claro el tiempo que has pasado en Asia ha sido una experiencia única.
Espero poder verte por algún evento de la empresa.
Hi Iker, wish the best in this new chapter of your life.
All the best in this new step Iker! Nice journey and well deserved new stage!
Did not get a chance to say thank you for sharing the wisdom and it has been a great journey. I look forward to your articles all the time. Take care, stay safe and keep in touch.
Thanks a lot Ros. I hope you doing great. Take care and talk soon.
Very Nice !
All the very best.
Thank you Rahul!
Very well written Iker!!
I met you in September 2016 for a brief period. Could not see much of you as a professional. In the last few months, since I have started following your blog, I have seen a professional in you who is passionate about people development, leadership and the diverse world.
Thanks a lot for your comment Sandeep. I’m sure we’ll have opportunities to work together again in the future. Take care.