Introducing SSW’s Cultural Exchange

Sometimes the best ideas can come from the most unexpected of places. 

At SSW, we’re passionate about creating a culture of continuous learning and personal growth. That’s why I’m excited to announce our new Cultural Exchange Program, which will allow our employees to work and live in one of our international offices for 8 weeks. 

SSW now has 6 offices – 4  in Australia, as well as in China and France. This program offers a unique opportunity for SSW people to immerse themselves in a new culture and gain a life experience they’ll never forget. Employees will have the chance to work alongside their international colleagues while gaining a deeper understanding of their cultures. 

As someone who has enjoyed living and working abroad firsthand, I can’t emphasize enough how much this experience has enriched my life. I had the opportunity to take my daughter Ruby with me to China, where we lived in Hangzhou and I worked from SSW Hangzhou for 3 months. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and Ruby’s as well. We both learned so much about the culture, language, and customs of our colleagues in Hangzhou, and developed a deep appreciation for the country and its unique culture. 

At SSW, teamwork is at the core of everything we do, and it’s important that we work well in teams across different locations. This has become especially true since COVID, and we’ve gotten good at working together, but tools like Microsoft Teams, GitHub, and SharePoint are not enough… 

I personally encourage everyone to seize opportunities like this and embrace the adventure that comes with living and working abroad. This program is about more than personal growth – it’s also about strengthening the bonds between our offices and helping our staff appreciate and understand the cultures of teams in other locations. As we continue to expand our global reach and work on projects for clients from any office, it’s crucial that our staff can work effectively across borders and understand the unique perspectives and values of their colleagues. 

I believe that this program will benefit our staff personally and professionally… and in addition will improve collaboration as we gain a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures. This will see us better equipped to work together effectively across borders. Every company that does something like this helps in a small way to break down cultural barriers, leading to a more connected global community. 

Oh – and I mentioned that great ideas come from unexpected places. Well, this one started out as an April Fool’s prank this year! In fact it was a little too successful… 

Figure: 68% of people at SSW were taken in by my April Fool’s prank (41 people, excluding #1 and #7) 

The joke was making this mandatory, but apart from that detail, we loved the idea so much (see the figure below) that we’ve decided to make it official! 

Figure: SSW staff overwhelmingly voted to keep the Cultural Exchange Program 

Here’s what some the team had to say about it:  

For the record I think something like this would be super valuable 

– Gordon Beeming, MVP 

I love the idea. I think I think it’d be an awesome way to get know other cities and cultures with local guides and a great emersion. If we were able to work from another city, I’d definitely be keen and I’d love to host others from elsewhere! 

– Penny Walker 

The ability to travel and work is amazing and I think that if you can make it happen it would be rewarding for many. 

– Andrew Harris 

I loved the idea of a cultural exchange program. I hope this goes ahead so I can visit SSW France and China very soon 🙂 

– Camilla Rosa Silva 

I’m excited to launch this program and see the positive impact it will have on SSW and our global team.  

If your work offered it, would you go on a cultural exchange?