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EPAMer Abroad: Grace Russo Makes a Global Impact in Japan

We sat down with Grace Russo, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at EPAM Philadelphia, who recently completed a three-month, onsite assignment for EPAM Tokyo. During her time overseas, Grace built out the team’s candidate strategy and created a recruitment, hiring and approval process from scratch. On top of a major process overhaul, she also filled the open positions and built a pipeline of candidates to fill incoming roles. See what Grace had to say about her experience in Japan:

The Opportunity

The assignment to relocate to Japan for three months was even more than I could have expected. EPAM can surprise you in many ways—you never know the opportunities that can be presented to you. I have found this to be the case throughout my time here, especially when there is something you are passionate about. For example, when I heard about our talent acquisition team expanding into TA marketing, I immediately explored how I could get involved. After speaking to the Director of TA Marketing, I was able to work on an assignment regarding our EPAM Alumni Group. For EPAM Japan, I also made sure to express interest when the opportunity was announced. When you raise your hand, EPAM listens.

My advice for someone seeking stretch assignments is to always keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to throw your name into the mix when an opportunity presents itself.

The Assignment

My role at EPAM has been working within our Google Cloud Practice, one that we have established globally. I was sent to Tokyo to aid in the team’s growth and hiring efforts, as well as organize and document their hiring workflow. I contributed to the candidate strategy and explored different ways to source local talent, as well as optimizing interview process and approvals for internal TA. EPAM is growing rapidly within APAC due to the company identifying a great opportunity in an innovative market. Global TA strives to follow a unified process and give all TA team members access to the tools they need. Upon my arrival, there were many job openings, and toward the end, we had grown the team by 15 with 20 more predicted incoming roles before the end of 2019. With a documented process, we were able to fill certain time gaps and keep the consistency and pace we need in a market like Tokyo.

The Experience

This trip to Japan was my first trip to Asia, so I was excited to explore and soak in a different culture. My EPAM colleagues in Tokyo were very welcoming and helpful during my transition. They let me assess their current process and were open to feedback and learning about what my team does differently. They were eager to learn and flexible to adapt different approaches. Outside of work, the team was very helpful with questions I had about Japanese tradition and culture. During my time there, I got to know our local HR specialist and hiring manager—we made a great team! I plan to stay in touch with them now that I am back and look forward to seeing the team’s continued success.

Time away from home was challenging at times, but my EPAM team in Philadelphia was extremely supportive. The team continued to check in on me and keep me in the loop stateside. There’s strong comradery in my home office, which is very encouraging. I couldn’t wait to tell my colleagues all about my experience when I returned!

Aside from the work, experiencing Japanese culture for the first time was amazing. I’m a huge live music fan, and to my surprise, there was a great music scene that I took full advantage of on the weekends. Overall, Tokyo has so much to offer between the music, food, fashion, technology and art. For anyone relocating to a completely new part of the world, I recommend being open minded—don’t limit yourself!