Eamon Alsaffar had a choice of being seconded from Linklaters London to Paris, Singapore or South Africa. He chose the latter as he was eager to immerse himself in the country’s culture and experience what it’s like to be one of the locals there.
Alsaffar says he has already benefited from the social skills gained from friendly interactions.
“In terms of career development, I think what has been the most tested is definitely the social skills you will show. You learn a lot about how to interact with people. In South Africa in particular, people are incredibly friendly. Just picking up on those soft skills can then be transferred in a more sort of micro context on a day to day basis in terms of your career,” he commented.
He has also been pleasantly surprised by the approachability of colleagues at all levels at Webber Wentzel. “I have no issues walking into a very senior partner's office and making conversation with him and knowing that they are equally engaged in that. In London, things are a bit more hierarchical. When I go back, that's something I can try to help implement or encourage because it makes working easier,” noted Alsaffar.
Archie Prew, who is also on secondment at Webber Wentzel from Linklaters, said he would not have worked for a law firm that did not offer international exposure. The advantage of the work exchange program, Prew says, is taking one out of their comfort zone.
“Having to go into a new firm, learn a new culture, then meet new people, forces you to adapt quicker, to improve your teamwork, communication and also see different types of work. So I think that all of these benefits rolled into one is just a fantastic thing to be able to experience and is only going to help me going forward in my new career,” Prew commented.
To join Africa Legal's mailing list please click here