Discovering my passion for insurance and finding the right company to work for were major turning points in my career. But the opportunities it afforded for mobility are what have truly allowed me to thrive. 

After graduating from business school in France in 2008, I began my career in external audit. While I enjoyed my time there, my work mostly involved going from business to business performing audits. As a result, I lacked a strong sense of belonging.

When I interviewed with Allianz Trade in 2013, the people I met were one of the main reasons I decided to join. Their genuine enthusiasm for the company made we want to be a part of it! For the next three years, I worked in the Group Controlling Department doing financial analysis and reporting. I then took on an opportunity to manage the controlling team in the World Agency department (now known as AZT for Multinationals), and was eventually promoted to Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

I knew there were a lot of mobility opportunities in the insurance sector, and I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing a different culture. But when the chance cropped up to become CFO of Solunion in Spain, I was hesitant to leave my family and friends. I’m so glad I didn’t let fear get the best of me. Having been in this role for a year, I can say that mobility has helped me grow so much in my career and as a person!

Joining Solunion was a big leap into the unknown. It’s a joint venture between Allianz Trade and Spanish multinational insurance company MAPFRE that is fully autonomous yet part of the Allianz Group. So I was basically switching to a new organization.

As CFO, I had to pick up a whole new way of doing things, and I was given a broad scope of high-level strategic decision-making. It has really been a journey of learning and growth – which were the main reasons I sought out a mobility opportunity in the first place.

Moving to a new country was transformative. I’ve had the chance to experience a new culture and expand my worldview. People in Spain have a more hands-off management style and work more independently. My colleagues were surprised when I suggested regular meetings and one-on-ones, but we found a way to adapt to each other’s work styles. I’ve also explored Spain’s rich history and vibrant culture by trying new foods, visiting museums and traveling to different parts of the country. 

Working in a new country can be intimidating, but it’s a chance to broaden your horizons in a way that nothing else compares to. If you’re thinking about going abroad, try to approach the experience with an open mind and a willingness to adapt. Be proactive about seeking opportunities, research your destination and build relationships with colleagues. The rewards are well worth the effort – take the leap and see where the adventure takes you!

Got questions? Connect with Hélène

Hélène Payen 

CFAO at Solunion