Talent of the Month for June:

As we welcome the vibrant month of June, we are thrilled to announce Vanya Gribov as Absolutely French’s Talent of the Month. Vanya’s journey is one of global exploration, career transitions, and profound personal support. Hailing from the bustling metropolis of Moscow, Vanya’s life has been a tapestry of international experiences. His latest chapter unfolds in the enchanting city of Paris, marking his second major expatriation, this time as an expat spouse.

Before settling in the City of Lights, Vanya’s professional voyage took him across the Atlantic to New York, where he worked at Citibank. Now, he embarks on a new adventure, supporting his wife in her professional endeavors in Paris. His story is a testament to the profound shifts that come with expatriation, from managing the complexities of family life to navigating the Parisian job market.

Join us as we dive into Vanya’s inspiring story, exploring his reflections on family, career aspirations, and the challenges of settling into a new life in Paris.

For the full Talent of the Month interview, be sure to check out our YouTube channel.

Can you introduce yourself?

I am Vanya and I am Russian. I would say nowadays it is quite hard to meet a Russian in Western Europe. We came here together with my family. My wife works for Total, Total Energies. She was able to find career opportunities in the headquarters . And we moved last year.I came to France late December, just before Christmas. And that was my goal to move in 2023. My family came earlier. I had to stay longer in Russia to close all the gaps at my previous, with my previous employer.

How have you found Paris so far? What has the transition been like?

Oh yes, for sure. My spouse’s employer is doing a great job for the foreigners coming to Paris. So it was quite smooth. Also, Paris is not in the middle of nowhere. It’s the capital of a European country. It’s pretty much comfortable.

Have you noticed and difference, cultural or other, since your time in France?

I came here from Moscow. Of course the first thing is weather. This year it was pretty much snowy in Moscow. The snowdrifts were almost two meters high. Yeah and when I came here it was sunny. It was quite warm. I would say around 12 Instead of minus 12 in In Moscow.I know that a lot of people coming from Africa or Latin America They complain on the weather including United States, they complain a lot because it is rainy here and most of the time cloudy. I Personally believe it is super sunny And the weather is fantastic, because in my home country you could not even see the sun starting from November to maybe late February. It’s cloudy, it is dark.

 

Talent of the Month

So this is actually your second Expatriation. Have you noticed any big differences, and if so, what?

Of course there is a quite a big difference. But the first difference is I had to be alone in New York. So my family stayed in my home country and I missed them a lot. It’s so called geographical bachelor. You know, like when I was talking to my friends and colleagues that I’m going to New York and my family would stay in Moscow, they were all laughing saying, ‘oh what a pity, Vanya, you go alone and you leave your wife and two small kids here’. Because you know like when your kids are quite small they are busy. But in reality I didn’t like the experience at all, I was missing them a lot and when you get used to… to spend your time with your family, which is quite un-normal to find yourself alone. Of course, it was, that was the most difficult part.

The easiest part of the assignment was that I was with the same company, it was Citibank. I used to work for Citibank in Moscow and it appeared… that all the practices that I found in Moscow were absolutely the same in New York. And it was easy, we spoke the same language to my colleagues. The business was absolutely the same. The priorities were absolutely the same.

During your first expatriation in NYC you were working but you moved here as an expat spouse. How hard was it to make that decision and give up your career?

I think it was quite easy decision. Because you know, like Moscow is not the most hospitable city nowadays in the world because of the geopolitics and all those things happening in my country. Of course we were thinking of moving somewhere. My wife was able to find the new career opportunity first, and as we agreed I followed her.

I was pretty much confident that I have a pretty strong career story. The Citibank has an office here so I thought there should not be a problem for me to find a job here. To my regret it appeared slightly different. When I started looking into career opportunities in Paris, it appeared that there were a lot of vacancies here in Paris, like around 20. France was not the key market for Citibank.

But after Brexit they started moving some of the operations or headquarters from London to Paris and to Frankfurt. I think a lot of European countries do this as well. But when it was time to apply they made kind of a restructure across the franchise, I mean, like, in all of the countries. So they announced that they’re going to have stuff reductions. Of course, firstly, they removed the vacancies, So from 20 over the night, it came to zero.

I thought that’s not an issue either. That I have been working for 20 years for an international company. I had a strong track record there. So I have a lot of achievements over there and I was able to survive a lot of waves of stuff reductions because I was high potential and so on.

So you have found it hard to fine vacancies?

I thought that I was gonna find like the different jobs like in any other French bank or so. It appeared to be not that easy. Now when I go deep into this subject of the recruitment story in Paris I read a lot more articles that a lot of people spent years to find a job here. I don’t know why, because I see a lot of vacancies. What’s wrong with either those people or with companies that they are not employing, though they have vacancies? But yeah, this is something new that I need to discover.

Check out our job fair for expat partners here!

What are you enjoying the most about having some time off from work at the moment?

I had my first job for summer when I was I think 13 or 14. My mom, she was running her personal, her private business and I was helping her. Then I was full-time employee since I was 18 I think and I was studying in the university during the evening hours. So like after these many years of full-time job I enjoy my time by spending it with my family. I loved cooking but I didn’t have much time to do that previously. Now I cook for my kids, for my wife, for myself. It is quite easy. doing this in Paris because you have a lot of quality ingredients and products here Apart from cooking, like just walking, Paris is so beautiful you can just walk and enjoy what you see!

Do you have any advice for someone who is in the same position as you were considering a move abroad?

After my experience in New York, I would say that the most important thing is to be together, like, regardless of anything. And even though I’m here, I’m… I’m not employed, I’m looking and I do not get any response and it might be hard and so on. But we are together. This is the most important. So my wife had to move here earlier. Then we moved our kids and I had to stay there like for several months. It was easier because I was in my native city and I had all my friends and so on, but of course, even though it was easier being together with my family is a lot more important to me than being apart.

How did you find your time at Absolutely French?

I loved the time here. I spent here. It was right in time because I moved here late December and I came to Absolutely French end of February maybe. So I was here for almost a month and a half So it was quite hard for me. I had no friends here, No routine like with employers in the office or with colleagues and so on. And so here I met new friends, I met new people, everybody was so… friendly and of course I like the way they were able to build the educational process. I think it was not boring at all, it was fun. I spent quality time with my friends, with my new friends and at the same time I was gaining in French.

Talent of the Month

What is your favourite French word?

‘Heureusement, Heueruesment’ yeah. Of course, I love all the words that start with H because they do not pronounce and it is to my mind, it is so beautiful. The hardest word for me is still ‘Mercredi’ because there is two R and C in between. It is too hard for me!

How would you describe Paris in 3 words?

beautiful, cozy and I would say small. Small maybe is not the right word it is more like What is that Swedish word? [Hygge] Yeah there is a special word when you feel like you are sitting at home by the fireplace and feel this warmth.

Where are your 3 favoutite places in Paris?

Ooh, one of the most favorite, obviously, this is Absolutely French at Faraday. The second one would be Parc Monceau. And the third one. It is in the 15th arrondissement, quinzième arrondissement or 15th district. It’s close to my apartment. It’s like a concentration of the flavor of all the European cities. It is small, quite narrow, shops in every building. If you want you would feel like in London or Madrid or Paris or any other European city. I really liked it. A lot of people, quite busy. loud.It is rue de commerce.

 

Thank you Vanya for taking the time to speak to us, your insight and perspective on expatriation, and congratultions again on being our Talent of the Month!

Be sure to check out some of our previous Talents of the Month below!

Cheney from Macau

Puneet from India

 

 

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