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As a global company who are continuing to expand exponentially, K2 are continuously looking for ways to reward the dedication and hard-work of our employees with new opportunities for career progression.

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After joining K2’s Finance Team on the annual intern placement scheme in 2015, James Mckenna, US Finance Manager, has recently been selected to undergo a long-term assignment out to the USA, heading up the new Finance Team in Houston, Texas.

Below, James talks us through his ambitions for the assignment, and the challenges that the pandemic has had on the relocation process.

What initially attracted you to the position in the US? 

When I was initially offered the opportunity back in 2020, it seemed like a no-brainer for me. Having already worked closely with the US team for 3 years (albeit virtually), I had already formed fairly strong relationships with a number of the team members. A visit out to the Houston office in March just solidified my beliefs, as everyone was so welcoming. I could tell very quickly that this was the type of supportive, fun environment that I would flourish in.

I was also keen to take on the position as the US office doesn’t have a finance presence at current. As I was originally based in the UK, I was juggling my UK working hours with the 6-hour US time difference, which meant that I wasn’t online for all hours of their day. Both the UK and US teams are very flexible, which made the role possible, but it’s great that I’ll now be able to offer support throughout all hours of their working day. I’ll also be taking on additional responsibilities in my US role which I’m excited for – bring on the challenge!

What are you most looking forward to when you move? 

Aside from the new position, I’m excited to experience a new way of living. Visiting a country on holiday is one thing, but it’s only once you live there for a period of time that you really get to appreciate the difference in culture. The beauty of the United States is that you have a rich variety of different cultures in one country, all easily accessible by domestic flights. I’ve already made a bucket list of the cities which I’d love to visit whilst I’m living in the US. First up, Miami, Nashville and Memphis.

Have you faced any challenges with the relocation process? 

Covid has made the whole relocation process a lot more challenging. When I was first offered the role in 2020, I knew it would take a few months at least for the immigration process and to arrange logistics, but little did I know that I’d be waiting a year and a half to go! The immigration process has been particularly complex, with a number of different situations affecting the visa process and causing some serious delays. I was lucky enough to fly out to the US earlier this year for the launch of our new 5-year plan, Kinetic, which meant I could visit the embassy and finally push the application through. The delays with the process has meant that my life has felt like it has been on pause for the last year, but now that the time has finally come, I couldn’t be more excited.

What advice would you give to somebody hoping to relocate abroad for work? 

I would tell anybody looking to relocate that they need to be patient. Relocation is not always a straight-forward process, as all of us at K2 know well. You may face challenges along the way which are completely out of your control, so you just need to be patient and go through the process. As I work in the relocation industry, it’s been great to have the advice and guidance from colleagues who oversee this process day-in day-out, but I could imagine it being quite stressful if it were to be organised by just one individual, so take any help you can get!

I’d also just say that you need to throw yourself into the adventure. It might be difficult at first living in a new environment without any home-comforts, but you need to take this in your stride and immerse yourself as much as possible. I’ve chosen to stay in an area which is known for being fairly sociable, so hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to get to know lots of new friends, and experience all that the US has to offer.

If you are interested in progressing your career with a new global challenge, learn more about our K2 career opportunities here.

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