Gwenhael: his Canadian adventure

Gwenhael, who has been a consultant at Astek for the past six years, recently arrived in Canada, where he continues his “Astekian” adventure. He tells us about his journey and his new life in caribou country.

My start in engineering

After graduating from ESEO Angers in 2002, I already had a little itch to go abroad, particularly to North America, to learn about other work methods and live the American dream—a desire I hadn’t been able to fulfill that kept lingering in my mind. After 12 years in another company, I joined the Astek Group in Rennes.

I remember interviewing in March 2016 and talking about my desire to live abroad for a while. At that time, the Group was just starting its international development. There were no projects for me beyond the French borders, but I knew that it could happen soon given the company’s strong growth. My decision was made: I joined Astek a few weeks later.

From my arrival at Astek…

When I first started with the Group, I worked as a QA tester in automation. I was developing automated tests while growing within an agile management. There was a lot of progress to be made in this profession, which, on top of it, was very sought after on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

2017 was a turning point in my career. I took advantage of a vacation in Montreal to visit the Astek teams in Canada and got along very well with them. This solidified my desire to experience a new life in this country. Back in Brittany and as the seasons passed, this desire to live abroad was always in the back of my mind. My manager understood this and helped me put together my mobility application file. Yes, even as an Astek employee, the mobility process is the same as for everyone else.

Since the second half of 2019, there has been a strong desire at Astek, both in France and Canada, to promote international mobility. I took this opportunity to start my relocation process. Like any candidate, I had interviews with the recruiters and then the president of the Canadian offices. And just like that, I was ready to fly to Montreal.

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to leave in 2020, and a virus that we all know by now decided otherwise. Canada closed its borders, and my trip was postponed. While waiting for a new departure date, I continued to work in Rennes. The Canadian staff was very supportive during this difficult time and really followed up to keep this mobility prospect alive.

… to my new life in Canada

In September 2021, I was finally able to experience the beauty of Canada and the North American ways of working. Once again, I was able to count on the support of the Group and its mobility department for administrative tasks, expenses and organization on the ground.

I started a project at Videotron as a QA tester as soon as I arrived, working full-time from home. While I can’t work at the client’s offices, I’m fortunate to be able to work at Astek Canada’s offices most of the time. Consultants, business managers and support staff have all given me an incredible welcome. The many expat employees share their “tips” to better adapt to life across the Atlantic. Admittedly, I didn’t expect the glacial cold and snow but there’s always someone to turn to for advice and support!

While everyone speaks French in Quebec, Montreal is a very cosmopolitan city and English is widely spoken. I’m learning to juggle two languages on a daily basis. This time, the interviews I’m conducting for the Toronto office are entirely in English.

I don’t know yet how the rest of my adventure will go or how long I want to stay in Canada. Many companies in the country have technological challenges to overcome, so there are many things to do and build and real opportunities to grow. Although I don’t know how long my Canadian life will last, I’m sure of one thing: I’m not ready for it to end just yet!

Tip of the day!

If I had one piece of advice to give to someone who is considering working abroad, it would be to go for it! Whatever the country, there will always be things to see, new sights to discover, a new culture to learn about, new work methods to develop, and much more. Even though I miss the sea, you have to be able to leave your comfort zone. Lastly, a few years abroad go by very quickly.

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