FLINT Alumni Insights: Relocating our careers from New Zealand to the South of France


Over the next few months, Amy and Jack will be sharing short some highlights, insights, and opportunities from their experience of relocating from New Zealand to the South of France. They’ll share what they learn about the European tech ecosystem, and other stories of their experiences along the way.

Chapter one: Flights, France, and First Impressions

Preparation… paperwork. To start at the true beginning, our first insight from this experience of relocating to the other side of the world was… get ready for the paperwork! Despite our globalised and digitally connected society, we spent many weeks preparing official documentation from ID copies and insurances, to employment contracts and application forms. A compulsory interview at the French Embassy in Wellington topped it off. Our visas arrived three days before our flights – and before long we were waving goodbye to our families and friends from the Auckland international Airport terminal.

Take-off… a Taste of American Technology. Our first stop was actually Chicago, USA where we spent two days not only sampling the deep-dish pizza, hotdogs, and other famous foods, but the technology scene of this huge city too. On day two we found ourselves standing in the middle of a live tornado, wind whipping at our clothes and faces, and mist billowing around us. However, we weren’t in any danger – because we were inside the Chicago Science and Industry Museum! This famous destination genuinely brought science to life, and was a showcase of how technology can be such an engaging tool for education. In addition to re-creating mini tornadoes – you could participate in digital debates on artificial intelligence, test the physics of air-pressure vs bowling balls, and enter a screen room of a plastic polluted ocean.

We also got to check-out the new Apple Vision Pro goggles, currently only available in the US. You could trial the goggles by booking in 30-minute guided experiences in the glass walled apple store on the shores of the Chicago river and get a glimpse into the next generation of virtual reality. This experience got us thinking: How could New Zealand leverage its blend of cities and scenery to excite international visitors, customers, and investors through more interactive technology experiences? Could technology tours and digital experiences be a great collaborative offering for an organisation like TUANZ to facilitate?And, how do we make New Zealand the go to technology test-bed again?  We were the first country in the world to test eftpos, and we should be able to leverage our advantages to continue to be a first mover rather than an early adopter, to stay on the leading edge of the technology curve.

Landing… the Scale of Airbus (reflections from Amy)My role at Airbus is a strategy role in the ZEROe team. Together we’re working on electric and hydrogen aviation so we can find a way to decarbonise one of the most challenging industries in the world, aviation. Specifically, I’ll be working with airline customers as they plan and prepare for a ZEROe future, and to take their feedback to help to shape the Airbus ZEROe market strategy moving forwards.

But, two weeks in and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of this massive company that I’m now a part of. Toulouse, France is the location of the head office of Airbus and home to 28,000 of its employees. The offices are massive, surrounding the whole of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and include an internal bus system complete with an app to track their timings and at least 15 different staff restaurants with payments all linked to our employee card. There’s also an internal aircraft shuttle between Toulouse and another major Airbus base in Hamburg, and we often see Beluga’s flying in carrying various aircraft parts between the bases. All of this is to say that it’s big, we don’t see scale like this in little New Zealand. But I believe that what NZ lacks in scale we make up for with agility and collaborations – two days in and I was having dinner with my old boss who was visiting Airbus, so really the aviation world is small! We don’t need to be the biggest to be the best, so continuing to build relationships across international borders through projects and people can be a great way for New Zealand to leverage our future-focus mindset, flexible approaches, and friendliness while benefiting from the scale of partnerships to help drive positive impact in the world of technology.

Thank you for reading, in our next article, we’ll talk about the European start-up ecosystem, and other experiences we’ve had along the way.

Amy Strang is a Market and Customer Strategist in the ZEROe team at Airbus, currently based in Toulouse, France. Previously, Amy held the role of Chair of the FLINT Auckland Lead Team and worked for Air New Zealand as a Fleet Strategy Specialist. Jack Keeys is an agri-food-tech specialist, currently working remotely from Toulouse. Additionally, Jack is co-founder of a NZ-based start-up, Chair of the IFAMA Young Board and has previous experience with the Aotearoa Circle, KPMG New Zealand, and in agri-technology.  


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