Over the past three years, I have been fortunate to be a part of many great programs offered by L.E.K. My favorite experience has been the SWAP program, which you can think of as an exchange program for consultants. During my second year as an associate in L.E.K.’s Chicago office, I spent six months across the pond in the L.E.K. London office while a colleague from our London office came to the Chicago office in my place. Lucky for me this was over the winter, so I was able to escape a frigid Chicago winter for a mild London winter.
My time in the London office was very rewarding. Working outside of the U.S., I was able to see how business is done differently in another country. While much is the same and there is no language barrier, there are still differences in the way business is conducted and even how L.E.K. operates. I was also exposed to markets, like the EU5, that I did not have as much experience with prior to working in a European office. It was thought-provoking to see insights and perspectives from these markets and compare them to what I knew from my work in the U.S. In addition, going to an office like London, there was an opportunity to meet and work with new people from all different backgrounds. For instance, the associate who sat next to me was Italian, my favorite consultant I worked with was Portuguese, and my best friend in the office was British. It was a great experience to hear all of their backgrounds, stories and the different paths that led them to L.E.K.
I think the best part of SWAP was the opportunity to travel. It is much easier to get to places in Europe when you start from London than when you start from Chicago! While I was in London, there were also many others on SWAP from offices around the world. We traveled together on many weekends, both domestically and abroad. My favorite trips took me to Denmark and Iceland.
After my SWAP ended, I decided to travel for a month before heading back to the Chicago office. I was lucky enough to travel around southern Africa, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. It was a great time to take a break and see a new part of the world before transitioning back to work. The opportunity to “SWAP” to another office is one that everyone at L.E.K. should take advantage of. It certainly enhances the culture here.