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Having recently joined Cognito’s London office as an Account Manager I was lucky enough to be asked to head across the Atlantic to work with my colleagues in New York for three months. This amazing opportunity would afford me 12 weeks of non-stop learning about American culture, media and business practice in one of the most important and dynamic financial centres in the world.

My first few weeks as a Cognition in London were a whirlwind of building relationships with my new colleagues, getting up to speed on new accounts, contributing to pitches and settling into the Cognito Way. By the time I boarded a plane bound for the Big Apple, I was in the swing of soaking up a whole load of new, which stood me in good stead as I touched down in the US ready to do it all over again, but without the comforts of my home city. 

Aside from the amazing views from the 18th floor offices overlooking the New York Harbour, I was immediately struck by the openness of my new colleagues and the one company/one team attitude. This was one of the things that had attracted me to Cognito: an international agency that feels like one big family, with open lines of communication between its global offices.

Having said that, naturally there are going to be some cultural differences between countries, so part of my role in spending time in the New York office is to bridge gaps and ensure that I share new learnings or different ways of doing things with my colleagues back home.

To that end, the most useful skills that I’ve deployed in my first few weeks overseas have been to listen, absorb everything and say “yes”:

  • There are more cultural nuances between the US and UK than one might expect; being able to ask my colleagues as many questions as I need to make sense of a lot of new practices and listen to them share their knowledge and insight has been invaluable in helping me understand a new market and culture, both in and out of the office! Spending time with the team on a one-to-one basis - as well as collectively on the annual ‘forced fun’ day - has been a great way to quickly develop relationships with my fellow Cognitians and settle in to the New York working way of life.
  • New office, new colleagues, new clients, new sectors, a new media landscape… Absorb as much as you can, as fast as you can. The pace of New York is faster than London, but you can adapt to it quickly if you’re always keeping your eyes, ears and mind open to every new experience.
  • New York has so much to offer and there is always so much going on. Evenings have been packed by meeting new people, exploring different neighbourhoods, going to networking and panel events, and of course, sampling the abundance of amazing bars and restaurants! Saying “yes” to invitations that you might have been tempted to say “no” to and throwing yourself into the unknown can be daunting, but every time I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone I’ve learnt something new, made a great new acquaintance, or a new business connection. The best thing you can do when you’re living and working in a new city is say “yes”.

It's been a busy and enthralling first month at Cognito New York and I can’t wait to find out what the next few weeks will hold. (Things are also set to get very interesting on the political front in the US as the race to the White House ramps up!)