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Tour de Zeno: The Big Apple Edition

By Sharon Leow

NYC landmarks and Zeno employees

Cue ‘Empire State of Mind’…That’s me – off the plane after touching down on the JFK tarmac, taking in Manhattan’s colorful sights and sounds in one of those iconic yellow cabs — and all I could think about is this is happening. I’ve just set foot in one of the greatest cities of the world.

It was last May when Tour de Zeno was announced and opened up globally. This was a two-week secondment program to visit and work from another Zeno office. Imagine, having to experience what life is like in Zeno across the globe and immersing yourself in a new culture! It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Tour de Zeno: The Big Apple Edition

Next thing I knew, I was on my way to The Big Apple. Luggage in hand, bright eyes and ambition to witness what this city had to offer.

Meeting Zeno New York

Anyone who has set foot into the New York office would appreciate the stunning view that greets them. From 39 floors up, it was a hawk’s nest vantage point of the Manhattan skyline and there’s even a viewfinder to prove it!

Introductions soon followed as I was taken around the office for a quick tour. From floor-to-ceiling windows to spaces designed for collaboration and creativity, the office has earned its bragging rights! Pantry? Fully stocked with sodas and snacks!

With 70+ Zenoids, things ran slightly different in the New York office. Here, people are assigned to our various practices.

Structure aside, there were definitely some similarities between the New York office & Malaysia office and being in Zeno New York felt a lot like home. I was still surrounded by stellar colleagues who are passionate about their work and know how to have fun in the process.

In my daily interactions with the Zenoids here, we found ourselves exchanging cultural traits.

One particular topic of interest was food in both parts of the world. I learned that few foods are as iconic as a slice of pizza in New York. They learned that rice was a dietary staple in Malaysia.

Oh, the look on their faces when I had to explain the Malaysian breakfast essential, Nasi Lemak and its choice of ingredients. Particularly, dried anchovies.

We exchanged views on politics, technology in this day and age, work-life integration in the city and more. These interactions were more than just an open dialogue. They allowed me to learn more about the people here; how they each took pride in who they were as an individual and how they weren’t afraid to voice their own opinions. This was something truly inspiring to witness!

When it came down to sharing the impressive pieces of businesses the office holds, Zeno New York knows how. A Tour de Zeno progressive lunch was set up for me to hear about the work that they do across each practice.

The Big City

Having seen this concrete jungle in plenty of movies, I was most excited to experience this city firsthand.

Of course, the office had put together a list of to-do’s – from must-see attractions to local gems.

From taking in the sights from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere to checking out the artifacts at the American Museum of Natural History and catching a Broadway show, there was no shortage of activity during my time in New York City. Zeno made sure I was there to experience them all.

In my spare time, I had a history lesson of immigrants’ past at Liberty & Ellis Island, visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, got a bird’s eye view of the Manhattan skyline from the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock, explored Central Park and Bushwick’s experimental arts scene, checked out the exhibits at The MET, walked the streets of this fair city and down the Brooklyn Bridge, dined in America’s oldest steakhouse and New York’s dine-in theatre, attended my first improv at UCB Theatre, a concert…and more!

An Experience of a Lifetime

Cliché as it sounds, my Tour de Zeno journey taught me to live out our motto of being fearless. Travelling abroad on my own for the very first time took a lot of courage, but I did it! Regardless of itineraries and work assignments, it was totally up to me to make the most of my time in New York City and that required me to make decisions and seize opportunities when they arose. The outcome? An experience of a lifetime.

Two weeks in the New York office did put a lot of things into perspective. I realize now the significance of agency extensions and can only hope that we will continue to connect the global green dots, with or without Tour de Zeno.

To my friends in New York – thank you for extending your love, allowing me to be part of your office and for showing me around in your beautiful city. Thank you for making me feel at home even when I was thousands of miles away from Malaysia.

This was and will ever be one of my greatest highlights in 2018 and I know it will be for many others in the years to come! Zenoids, don’t miss out on applying for the next one!