6 weeks in Texas, or how do you grow your talent for and with Borealis?

​Geographical expansion is one of the main building blocks of our Borealis Strategy 2030. In order to do so, as always, we need the right people in the right place at the right time. After all, people make it happen! One colleague who decided to take the opportunity to expand his geographical and functional experience is Onur Aslan. Onur is Senior Engineer Production at our Schwechat production site. He joined Borealis as young graduate via our Operations Talent Pipeline, an initiative dedicated to growing talents in Operations. This summer, he took on a short-term assignment at our joint venture Baystar in Houston, Texas.

What did he do there and how did this all come about? We asked Onur in an interview. Read on to find out more!


We go beyound boundaries. Together.

Onur, it has been two months since you returned to Schwechat from your short-term assignment to Houston, Texas. Can you tell us a little bit more? For how long did you go abroad, and where to exactly?
As part of the young engineer programme, I was assigned to join the project team of the Bay3-Project in Pasadena, Texas. This unique programme provided ten engineers with the opportunity to contribute to one of our growth projects for six weeks. During this assignment I lived in the south-east of Houston.

How did this come about? Did you pro-actively signal that you would like to go abroad for a limited period of time, or were you approached by your line manager?
I was approached by my line manager first. Then, we discussed the further steps with our operations manager.

You have already gained a lot of experience at our production sites in Linz and in Schwechat. Was this the first time that you travelled to another country for work? What were the biggest differences?
I once travelled from Istanbul to Vienna for my university studies, but for work it was the first time that I had travelled to another country.
The first big difference was the units of measurement. As I am used to the metric system, changing to the units customary in the US was difficult for me and took me quite some time. Another difference was the American cuisine, which is mostly dominated by meat. I cooked a lot in the first few weeks.

Thinking back, what was the biggest motivational factor for you to go international?
For me the biggest motivational factor was meeting people from other countries and working in a different culture. I knew that this would broaden my horizon and this motivated me the most.

Did you also have moments of doubt before leaving?
Of course when you think of leaving, you kind of shift the equilibrium of your life or routine to one side and in that way upset the balance. This feeling gave me some moments of doubt before leaving, but after thorough consideration, I was able to reinstate the balance again.

During your time abroad, can you share with us the greatest challenges you encountered, both professionally as well as personally?
Professionally, the greatest challenge was to understand the process flow of the project work at the beginning. The way our US colleagues run a project, for example, or monitor progress is completely different from my daily work in Schwechat.
Personally, the greatest challenge was definitely the heat and humidity of Texas in the middle of August.

What did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed exploring Texas and the road trips with the other engineers the most. Sometimes the locals in the project were really surprised when we told them how many miles we had travelled over the weekend.

How would you say your international assignment helped you grow professionally and personally?
Through this assignment I got a remarkable insight into our growth projects and gained a lot of experience in the construction field. This certainly did help me to grow professionally.
Personally, I have a much better understanding of American geography, culture and lifestyle and this is definitely personally enriching.

Did this assignment spark your interest in going abroad for a longer period of time – as an expat for instance?
Yes indeed, because I know better what the expat life is like and what is awaiting me as an expat abroad.
I now have a clear picture of the whole on-boarding process and what to expect both professionally and personally.

Geographical expansion is an integral part of our Borealis Strategy 2030 just like “People" and growing their talent. If a colleague thinking about going on a short-term international assignment were to ask you whether they should go or not, what advice would you give them?
I would definitely say, go ahead! Be curious and try to gain as much experience as possible. And don't forget, it doesn't matter where you go, there will be lots of people from Borealis who have a lot of experience of being an expat, and they will be happy to support you. Don't miss the chance and broaden your horizons!

Thank you for talking to us, Onur. We wish you much success and joy in your current and future roles.


Join us next summer!