Hailing from South Africa and now settled in Germany, Melanie Wilcocks had to learn how to deal with the cold northern European winters. Melanie will be running the show behind the scenes as FIGT Operations Lead.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Melanie Wilcocks. I am a South African and currently live in a small village close to Munich in Germany with my husband, son, and a few pets. Together we have experienced China, The Netherlands, and eventually decided to settle in Germany.
I have been a business analyst for most of my working career. It always gave me great joy to better businesses and people’s lives by enhancing and streamlining processes and systems.
Can you please briefly describe what the Operations Lead does?
The Operations Lead works behind the scenes in FIGT, supporting the FIGT Board and committees in running all aspects of the organization.
What interested you in FIGT and inspired you to take on this role?
As we moved across the globe, we experienced the frustrations, struggles, challenges, and joys of being an internationally mobile family. Doing this without the security of a support structure or an area to go to when looking for information was quite a daunting and sometimes lonely.
When I came to the point where I felt that we as a family have sufficiently settled in Germany — understanding the culture, speaking the language — I knew that I wanted to go back to work again. But this time I wanted to work for an organization that helps others — others that are experiencing what we have experienced.
When the position at FIGT became available, it was clear to me that this was the organization I wanted to work for — because if I had known and had access to the resources and information that FIGT provides when we first moved, I would have had a much better understanding and resources to support my family through our transitions.
Because I am quite a shy person, this behind-the-scenes role was even more appealing to me.
What are you looking forward to in your new role?
I am looking forward to being part of a truly international team and to use my skills that I have built throughout my career to serve others.
Your favorite thing about being a part of FIGT?
I am quite new to FIGT, but even in the past few months dealing with FIGT, I have quickly come to learn that FIGT is a welcoming, friendly, and nonjudgmental organization — no matter where you come from, where you live, or even which accent you have.
This is a wonderful feeling because, as many of us know and probably have experienced firsthand, most of the work when moving abroad from culture to culture or country to country goes into trying to fit in or being accepted.
Can you share some random pieces of info about yourself?
- One of my hobbies is horse riding. I had to leave my horse behind in South Africa when we moved and would love to return to the sport again.
- My favorite German word is Eichhörnchen — because it’s so difficult to pronounce as it contains almost all the different sounds one might make in the German language. This word means squirrel.
- Arriving in the Netherlands in December (winter) from a very sunny summertime in South Africa was naturally quite a shock and, as a South African, I had no idea how to deal with the ice and cold weather in Europe. The day before our furniture arrived in January (after spending Christmas in our new home with beds on the floor and basic furniture borrowed from neighbors) I decided that a good clean of the house would be in order. With this in mind, I decided that the outside patio also needed to be washed. What I did not know is that instead of washing, I would create a frozen layer of ice on the patio that lasted the whole winter. It was so slippery that none of us could go out the patio door without falling until March!
Please share some words of wisdom for FIGT members and globally mobile people in general.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, your spouse, or your children. Being globally mobile (as exciting as it can be) can also be hard. Sometimes in the silent wings behind the stage, don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek support, everywhere and as often as you need.
Always be proud of your culture, where you come from and where you have been. No one has a story exactly the same as yours — you are unique!
Thank you Melanie, and welcome to the FIGT team!