"I don't know how to make friends. It's very, very hard and very lonely."
That was the feeling Vicki Leigh-MacKenzie from New Zealand had weekend after weekend when she moved from London to Copenhagen to work at Nordea in March 2017. Vicki was somewhat younger than the others on her team, so she didn't find it natural to network with her closest colleagues.
"I tried different things over the summer. I went to pubs, but there's no pub culture here. Then I tried to go to a couple of meetings for ex-pats, but it just wasn't me. It was really hard, because I didn't talk to anyone all weekend and when I got together at work, I talked too much. So I was ready to leave after six months", says Vicki Leigh-MacKenzie, the initiator of a new international network across banks.
However, Vicki chose to stay in Denmark and instead took the initiative to create a women's network in Nordea focusing on salary, parental leave and female talent, with help from Finansforbundet in Nordea.
Football team, book club, food club and much more
Over her nearly two years in Nordea, Vicki talked to other international employees and found that she was far from alone in feeling lonely. So when she became Data Governance Leader in Danske Bank in Copenhagen in August 2019, after only a month on the job, she floated the idea of creating an international network across the industry.
And it was well received by the bank and by Finansforbundet in Danske Bank, who helps Vicki with the network. "The Finansforbundet Internationals Network", as the network is tentatively called, is still only on the drawing board, but Vicki has had a lot of ideas about it. A football team, a book club, a food club, wine tastings and maybe a wine club, bar events, mentoring schemes, volunteer work and Danish lessons are some of the ideas Vicki has listed.
"The network will help international finance employees like me make friends across the company they are part of. It will be a platform for understanding Danish work culture and will help ensure that our international knowledge and experience is put to use in the workplace rather than doing 'what you're used to'. It will give people a push through various events and a natural opportunity to talk to each other", says Vicki, who hopes that the network can get 500 employees together.
Internationally-oriented Danes are also more than welcome in the network, Vicki points out. For her, the most important thing is that the international employees in the financial sector get out of isolation and make friends among both international finance employees and Danish finance employees.
Become part of the international network
If you want to become part of "The Finansforbundet Internationals Network", and you would like to help Vicki create the network, contact Daniel Dalum-Larsen from Finansforbundet at firstname.lastname@example.org.