Julia Zihlmann (29) has been working at Apleona Switzerland since 2019 as a CoC project manager in the implementation team at headquarters in Wallisellen. She’s half-Spanish and did an exchange year at Apleona Ibérica in Madrid, from the beginning of June 2022 to the end of May 2023. In the interview she speaks about how interesting it was to work in Spain, what she got up to, and the mutual enrichment.
How did you end up going on an exchange year?
For some time I’d been wanting to work abroad for at least a year. Because Apleona is an international company, I saw in it an opportunity to do just that. So at the beginning of 2020 I applied to do an exchange year at Apleona Ibérica. The Madrid-based subsidiary covers Spain and Portugal and employs around 200 people, excluding cleaning.
Once I’d cleared up a few issues and talked with HR, my supervisors and the CEO of Apleona Ibérica, Gonzalo Churruca, the exchange year was good to go. It was initially going to run from June 2022 to June 2023, with an option to extend. I was so excited about the opportunity, and I’m still so grateful to have had it.
What was the teamwork like?
Because I grew up bilingual, language was fortunately never a problem. And in fact, the little team in Madrid received me really nicely from the very outset. All their little teams are very friendly and family-like, so we would often enjoy doing things together after work too. That made it easier to get to know new people, which was lovely.
What were you responsible for?
I helped out mainly at sales and with small internal projects, such as the onboarding process for new staff. The work I did was very varied and I learned such a lot.
How did you benefit from the exchange?
The mutual exchange process was so valuable and both sides (i.e. countries) learned a lot from each other. I was able to show my team in Spain a lot of Swiss processes and useful tools. In return, they taught me about me their tools, which I now want to show our Swiss implementation team. That was how both countries benefitted from each other and it was a great enrichment, both privately and professionally. I’d like to thank the whole Apleona Team for the opportunity.