A German in Chicago

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend three months at Livingstone’s Chicago office. In addition to providing day-to-day support to the US team’s deal processes, and the personal experience of residing in a dynamic city four times the size of Dusseldorf, my goals were threefold: (i) proactively gain deal exposure to absorb in-depth insights into US deal-making; (ii) expand and impart my knowledge and skillset; and (iii) eventually transfer best practices back to our Düsseldorf office.

The notion of a secondment was appealing to me because it not only represented a once in a lifetime opportunity to live and work abroad, but also a unique way to push myself and develop as both an investment banker and an individual. This experience afforded me the opportunity to see a new side of the M&A advisory profession, allowing me to benefit from experiences in a different setting (i.e., new types of projects, direct interactions with international clients, adaption to another professional culture and work style, etc.). After four and a half years at Livingstone, although it is effectively the same job, the secondment was a rejuvenating change from my normal working routine, dragging me out of my comfort zone, and ultimately placing my professional skills to the test.

In addition to the personal rewards I’ve derived from my temporary stay in Chicago, there are numerous institutional benefits that we can capitalize on in Düsseldorf. It will be valuable to deliver new perspectives on business practices (e.g., process management, use of internal resources, and simply exchanging ideas for transaction documentation across our offices).  Once I return to Germany, it is my duty to share my knowledge and experience with my German colleagues.

Finally, although the one-firm approach with its annual global team events does an incredible job of fostering personal relationship building across our distinct offices, it’s far eclipsed by the prospect of actually working alongside people and getting to know them on a personal level. It’s safe to say that I will be leaving Chicago with several new friends, fresh ideas to inspire my work in Germany, and lots of fun memories. In this way, such a secondment ultimately spreads company culture and creates a more cohesive, unified organization.

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