Living in America

We meet an Oracle ITer who upped sticks and headed for the sunshine of Silicon Valley

We meet an Oracle ITer who upped sticks and headed for the sunshine of Silicon Valley

Michal Lisiecki knows a thing or two about moving. Originally from Gdansk, Poland, he joined Oracle in the UK before moving to work in San Francisco. Drawn by the lifestyle he had experienced on previous trips to Silicon Valley, Lisiecki took the plunge last year and moved to California with his Polish partner, Jola Budynek.

Lisiecki initially decided to apply for a transfer to the US when he was working in the payroll department at Oracle UK in Reading. It proved to be a relatively painless process. "Oracle encourages people to change assignments and I had already done it a couple of times before within the UK," he says.

There is obviously a big difference between moving around the UK and emigrating to another continent but Lisiecki was always confident that he had made the right choice. "I had visited Oracle's headquarters before on business as well as meeting with US staff visiting the UK," he explains. "I knew exactly where I was going so I made no mistakes in the process."

Only four months passed between Lisiecki asking for a transfer and packing his bags to head out west. The only trip he made to San Francisco in that time was for the job interview.

His role in Redwood City, Silicon Valley is essentially the same as it was in Reading. "My job involves taking an active part in managing a complex development process of five customer relationship management software products and managing a group of five developers," says Lisiecki.

Although his work has not changed radically the environment has. "There are definitely more complex communication challenges and higher expectations for successful results within less time," he says. "The atmosphere at work is less social and very work focused - it is faster, extremely challenging and very success driven."

It is not only the workplace that is different.

"The pace of life is 50% faster here, but I expected that," says Lisiecki. "I have adjusted to it and I am now comfortable."

Lisiecki's partner Jola has also integrated well. She arranged her own emigration by applying to the San Francisco State University and obtaining a student visa.

She is now on an intensive Web design course run by the university in conjunction with some of the leading businesses in Silicon Valley.

Accommodation has probably been the biggest headache for Lisiecki. There is a lot of competition and the price of housing in San Francisco is the highest in the US. "This issue influences our lifestyles and crops up in almost every conversation," he says.

He commutes to work by train, as driving through the rush hour traffic to Silicon Valley proved to be too stressful. The couple have been fortunate to find a house close to the train terminal and within walking distance of downtown San Francisco. Local shops include big name department stores such as Macys and Niketown along with an array of trendy bars and clubs.

But despite the advantages of San Francisco there are other considerations. "Poland is closer to the UK and it will be expensive for Jola and me to fly back to Europe," explains Lisiecki.

However, they do not feel isolated. "We socialise with a mix of people and not necessarily colleagues from the UK who have transferred to the US. We are making new friends here rather than limiting ourselves to the closed circle of UK ex-pats," he says.

What Lisiecki enjoys most about living in the Bay area is the variety of things to do nearby. "You can go to more than 10 ski resorts all within a day's drive and can then get back and go straight to the beach. Last winter we went away every second weekend and never got bored," he says.

"Our trip to Las Vegas was also memorable," Lisiecki adds. "Jola and I thought Vegas was all about casinos. We didn't spend any time in casinos and still ended up running around to see everything that was going on. There are miles of excellent hotel interiors and shops, shows and attractions."

But is Lisiecki going to stay in the US?

"I don't know what is coming next. It is quite likely that we will go back to Poland, but there is also the UK to consider as we enjoyed living there too. But there is so much more that I haven't seen yet. Maybe a move to somewhere exotic for a change," he says.

However, Lisiecki does not believe that now is the best time to be thinking about international transfers.

"If I had waited half a year longer for my transfer then I would have missed the boat," he says. "I would have had to wait for the US economy to pick up again."

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