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Jul 18, 2018

The Journey Behind My Move

There are few things in life we regard as very big decisions: Going to a college, getting married, having kids, buying a house - these are the type of decisions that have life-changing consequences. There is another big decision that has changed the course of my life numerous times: My career.

When the opportunity to join the team at Netflix in Amsterdam came, it sounded like an easy decision. A beautiful city in the heart of Europe and a great company that prides itself in fostering an inspirational corporate culture, promising to surround you with stunning colleagues and work for a platform that their consumers love and uses everyday. When it’s for such a fantastic opportunity, the decision should be easy, right? After all, I have made similar moves from Istanbul to Denver, then to Sydney and finally to Dubai all in the name of being part of fantastic people, diverse culture and organisations.

Someone once told me “when you follow your passion, the rest will unfold”. My passion was for technology and entertainment. I couldn’t think of a better place other than Netflix that would bring those together. This was the leap of faith I have been waiting for. In this context, however, I was not an I, but a “WE”, and there is a lot more at stake when it’s a “WE”. My partner has been working at a job that she loved. My children were about to start school and as a family, over the years, we have come to build a great circle of friends, bought a house and settled comfortably in UAE for over half a decade.

So, -In Netflix terms- I decided to “socialise” the idea with my family on why Netflix and Amsterdam were great next steps for us collectively. I am fortunate to have a partner who is selfless and believes in the greater good of the sum, but there were still many questions on the practicalities and timelines of the move. I was also being very conscious how much I am asking of my wife to compromise on her existing lifestyle and career. This also meant that there was going to be some separation from my family until my wife completed her commitments to her business partners in Dubai. I was overwhelmed with the plethora of errands that I need to sort out to make this a successful move for all of us while being separate from my family.

This is where I started to experience the uniqueness of Netflix culture and what they meant by being surrounded with stunning colleagues. Within our culture of ‘freedom and responsibility,’ I’ve had the flexibility to travel back to Dubai and see my family as often as I’d like while working remotely. The hiring manager, talent and mobility teams selflessly worked with me to ensure all of our concerns were addressed while setting realistic expectations. They have allowed us an ample time in temporary accommodation until we find a place that we can call home. They ensured not only me, but to my family as well that they are here to support us throughout the move.

And the best part is, they did and to-date they continue to do so as we come to finalize the BIG move. The past six months in Amsterdam made me realize how different the lifestyle was in Amsterdam compared to Dubai. I found certain things harder to adjust in the beginning - starting with the language. It was a relief to find out that virtually everyone spoke English but it wasn’t the case for written content. What would I do if I didn’t have google translate? Then came the scarce choices in apartments where much of the compromise needed to take place: Compact spaces with extremely steep stairs in city center vs larger living in the suburbs. Not having our nanny with us anymore, which is quite a common practice for families with kids in UAE. She was part of our family for many years and it was a difficult moment for us to part ways with her. I also found myself doing things I never thought I would enjoy so much, like jogging in one of the many beautiful parks and cycling every day to work… or to anywhere else for that matter. In addition, having access to beautiful towns surrounding Amsterdam and being so close to some of the world’s most renowned cities like London, Paris and Brussels. But more so than everything else, I was pleasantly surprised how diverse, intelligent and inclusive my colleagues at Netflix would turn out. Most of them did come from other parts of the world like I did. Most of them went through the very things I called “different”. Every day I feel great about being part of such a talented group and that collective growth mindset helped me focus on the best parts of this beautiful country.

Today, I am enjoying going into my 6th month at Netflix - a humbling experience - learning to navigate and find my voice in this great company. Thanks to Netflix, the decision to leap into an unknown future was a bet, but an informed one. We had let go of many things we enjoyed to gain many other new things that we come to love and cherish. I feel confident that I’ve made the right decision not only for myself but also for my family.

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