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Aussies Of The Bay – Sandra Witzel

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Sandra Witzel, Head of Marketing at SkedGo, Castro

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

I moved to SF with my husband in late August 2016. He applied for a job, got it and voila! After getting married in Germany in July, going on honeymoon in Tanzania and Kenya, we had three weeks to pack up our lives in Sydney. It felt like it was a good time for a change. We both love Sydney to bits but were excited about this new adventure.

I’ve also never really travelled in the Americas, so it seemed like a great opportunity to get to know a different part of this planet. So far, I’ve ticked off New York, Arizona, Colorado, Mexico, New Orleans, Detroit and several places in California. So much to see!

I live in the Castro – which is hands down my favourite neighbourhood. Stunning architecture, lots of nice restaurants, THREE good coffee places (!!) and lovely people all around. And dogs. Lots of dogs 🙂

Hardest thing about moving here?

Apart from paying an exorbitant amount of rent in San Francisco? I miss my awesome friends in Sydney and the beaches of course. Those spur of the moment trips to Parsley Beach or Coogee or Balmoral or … sigh.

Also really hard: we moved here two months before the presidential election – obviously totally convinced Trump would never happen. Well…

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

There are so many. Just walking down Castro Street makes me happy every day, it has such a positive vibe. A helicopter flight across San Francisco (including going over and under the Golden Gate Bridge) was definitely a highlight. Adopting our dog from the SPCA another.

I love exploring San Francisco and learning about its colourful history.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

Having an Aussie accent is a great conversation starter (especially if I then tell people I am actually German). Makes me feel somewhat exotic 😉

I am still doing my Aussie job remotely. I love the flexibility of working from home or from a co-working space and having awesome colleagues all over the world. SkedGo is a small Australian software development firm, making cool stuff in the mobility as a service space. We don’t do office politics and everyone is super professional and chilled. Hard to beat, so I haven’t been looking for a job here.

On the downside, I don’t have any local work mates to hang out with, which sometimes sucks.

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

The good: large events that combine a very diverse audience, super chilled atmosphere, kids, dogs, alcohol, glass bottles, pot etc without anyone having any issues (looking at you Sydney Lockout Laws).

In the photo you can see me at my first Off The Grid in the Presidio (wearing about ten layers of clothing as it was bloody freezing) – an event where everyone happily co-exists and simply enjoys themselves. Despite the terrible political divide, I find Americans to be super friendly and accommodating everywhere I go.

Baseball game at the AT&T was fun too (for the first two hours…).

The bad: We live about half a kilometer away from beautiful Dolores Park. There was a shooting a while ago, on a Thursday afternoon, in broad daylight. Everyone’s just like ‘oh yeah, stay safe’ etc. and then goes back to business as usual. Gun violence is so normalised here, I still struggle to get my head around that.

Also normal seems to be the number of homeless people. That heralded ‘American Dream’ leaves so many people behind. If you want to help, just buy someone food or a coffee, it’s such a hard life for them here. Our neighbour is a social worker and recently introduced us to a lovely young woman in her early twenties who has been living on the streets since age 12! Every homeless person has a story. You really never know.

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Come prepared! Finding a job here can be hard from what I have heard, it’s super competitive. Since the Bay area is crazy expensive, your savings might not last very long. Explore California. It’s truly a beautiful state. Try to occasionally leave your little tech (or other) bubble.

Get out of your comfort zone, it’s so much more fun. Don’t get too upset about issues like shared coin laundries, ancient banking systems (remember how to write cheques?) and bad coffee. We’ve all been there. Join the Australians in San Francisco Bay Area Facebook group – super helpful.

 

Little Creatures Spotted in SF

I got this note from a reader recently. Love it!

“Hey Chris,Thought this might be of interest to the parched Aussies in SF.Jersey Pizza on 2nd St in SOMA is importing Little Creatures pale ale!

Good times!

– Patrick Wacher”

 

Aussies Of The Bay – Matt Holden

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Matt Holden, Founder, Black Opal, Sea Cliff

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

We arrived in 2013 when I brought my startup www.MavSocial.com from Australia. MavSocial is a social media marketing platform and we worked with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so San Francisco was the natural choice for us. I sold MavSocial last year and now have a new startup that is focussing on Chatbot Marketing Platform

Hardest thing about moving here?

The most obvious is leaving family and friends behind but having said that there is not a lot of joy that I see in Sydney given the high cost of living there.

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

I got some great seats to AT&T Park and watched the Giants baseball. First time was great but then you realize baseball needs a ‘Big Bash’ moment to speed it up.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

My posting before San Francisco was Singapore and you’ll find many Australian expats who are always well regarded. Australians are always well regarded in the United States and Americans still love our Aussie accent!

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

I was at a Social Media conference in San Diego and Candace Payne was interviewed. She is the Texan who became ‘Chewbacca Mom’ and racked up 170 million Facebook views with her viral video and since then has built a multimillion-dollar business – as they say “only in America”

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Given the strong economy, I urge others to come to America now. The time is right and opportunity abounds. I do caution that if you have school-age kids life is tricky and expensive given schooling and housing.

Anything else?

I’m now advising lots of startups as a mentor. For technology companies getting that investment is critical and there are many Australian founders moving here so I really enjoy hearing pitches from them and how I can help.

 

Aussies looking for opportunities – 20th Mar 2018

William Brooks – Full Stack Software Engineer

I relocated last year from Perth to Oakland with my wife, who is originally from the Bay Area. I studied Computer Science at UWA before working in the family business, managing hotel & hospitality businesses for 8 years.

I recently completed a full stack web development course at UC Berkeley extension while waiting for my work visa. I now have full work authorisation and am looking for a full-stack or front-end web development position. If you think you could make any introduction I would love to chat. brooks.william@gmail.com or www.linkedin.com/in/william-brooks

 

Aussies Of The Bay – Peter Buckingham

Find a way to be a part of a community. There is now a lot of information out there about the practicalities of moving here, but coming to the US and finding a way to feel at home is tricky when you first get here.

 

Aussies looking for opportunities – 6th Mar 2018

Kaitlyn Lieschke – Environmental Science and Data Analysis

G’day all! My name is Kaitlyn Lieschke and I’m looking for environmental science and data analysis positions. I’m trained as an atmospheric chemist and data analyst but my skills are very transferable and I’m open to any opportunities that I’d be a good fit for, particularly those that would allow me to stay in atmospheric or environmental science.

I’ve been working in air quality research for 3+ years and am currently working as a graduate student researcher at UC Berkeley. My work has involved a lot of statistical analysis of large data sets to determine trends and changes in air quality both in the Bay Area and back home in Australia. I have extensive knowledge of python and R, great written and verbal communication skills and love problem solving and analytical thinking.

You can see my resume and get links to my LinkedIn and GitHub accounts on my website www.kaitlynlieschke.com and you can contact me at kaitlyn.lieschke@gmail.com. Let me know of any opportunities.

Rena – Product

My name is Rena and I just moved to San Francisco from Sydney. At my last full-time role as Advertising Product Manager at Allure Media (the Australian publisher of POPSUGAR, Business Insider, WhoWhatWear Network and Gizmodo Media Group), I build and manage the advertising product roadmap; from brainstorming to successful launch of the ad products.

A recent successful project that I have managed is the launch of a premium video ad partnered with AOL. Essentially, my role as a Project Manager is to manage the launch of the product on 3 different websites – Business Insider, POPSUGAR and Gizmodo (each has their own CMS and engineering teams). I ensure clear communication across the teams so they are aware and updated on project milestones, status, and delivery.

I have 6 years experience in digital advertising and publishing. I am highly experienced in ad operations, campaign management, project managing, data analytics, insights, digital trends to assist the Commercial and Editorial teams to sell on-brand and on-strategy commercial products.

P/S: I have full authorization to work in the US and do not require a sponsorship from any company.

Rory – Various

Looking to make the move into tech in the Bay Area. Management Consultant from Perth with 2 years experience. Passionate about technology and have skills in Python, SQL, VBA, Javascript, and Tableau.

Quick learner with good strategic intuitions and communication skills. Interested in a range of roles from Data Science, Program/Product Management to Business Development. LinkedIn Email: rory.b.pilgrim@gmail.com If anyone knows anything that might be a good fit please drop me a line.

Jennifer – Customer Succes

I have recently moved to San Francisco Bay Area from Melbourne and looking for sales and customer success role opportunities. I have 3 years experience working in financial services starting as a credit risk analyst to an account executive where I’ve managed a portfolio of SMB clients.

If there any opportunities or you are able to make an introduction, please DM me at jen.szetho@gmail.comor www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferszetho   Thank you!

 

Aussies of the Bay – Anna Nguyen

Just do it! If you’re thinking about it, just do it. There are so many unique opportunities here in the Bay Area that you just don’t get back at home. There’s so much innovation, you just feel like you’re a part of something bigger.

 

Aussies of The Bay – Gareth Pan

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Gareth Pan, living in San Francisco, Sales Operations/Strategy at LinkedIn,

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

I first landed in Feb 24, 2016 after doing a table-flip of sorts, where I severed my lease, quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to SF. After realising that I actually needed a return ticket to enter the country (thanks US Customs!), I spent the next 11 weeks looking for work. I stayed on a mate’s couch for a while before moving to the cheapest single-room Airbnb I could find – it was about 9′ x 9′ and in the middle of Chinatown, but hey rent was expensive and the US dollar was sky-high, so it worked for me!

After getting an offer at LinkedIn in May, I went back to Sydney to sort out visas, say goodbye to friends & family and returned to SF in June 2016, where I have been since.

Hardest thing about moving here?

I have a 16 yo cat (his name is Theodore, but we call him Teddy!) that I had to leave behind with my mother. Was devastating for me but the bastard is probably ecstatic – after 16 years, I’m still not convinced he actually liked me. Aside from that, the usual conversion difficulties – celsius to fahrenheit, km’s to miles, kg’s to pounds etc.

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

I remember about 2 hours after I landed in SF, I needed to buy a towel and some bed sheets. I was stressing about how and where I’d get all that stuff from until my friend pulled out his phone and was like “watch this!” and tapped a few buttons. 2 hours later everything arrived at our door. I’d later learn that it was Amazon Prime Now and it was ridiculous and embodied everything that makes the Bay Area what it is.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

Being Australian here is great and I completely agree with everyone else’s comments – it’s so much easier to start a conversation with anyone by virtue of the accent alone! At work, even 2 years on I still get the joke “I wonder if you’d still have a job if you didn’t sound like that”.

Dating here has been… interesting. I definitely think all’s well that ends well though as I’ve since found an amazing local girl (shout out to Linda!). Looking back, I feel the interesting dating dynamic here goes back to the fact that a lot of Bay Area residents are transplants from all across the world and thus dating seems a little more transient.

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

Fantasy Football. I’d describe it like an office Melbourne Cup sweepstakes, but every week for 16 weeks. The amount of office banter that goes on during football season is out of control – the winner gets some money and a year’s worth of boasting + the loser has to carry a wooden spoon around the office for a month, which is priceless.

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Absolutely do it, I promise you will not regret it. If you’re gonna look for work whilst you’re here (i.e. not coming over with an employer), make sure you have your story buttoned up. Most employers here don’t know anything about your uni, your background, any Australian companies or the E3 Visa. Think introspectively and craft a coherent story on exactly why you came here with 2 suitcases and a dream. 🙂

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m actually going full ‘Murican and going to NYC to do an MBA this fall, so @Christian if you know a G’Day NY equivalent newsletter – hook me up because G’Day SF is an amazing resource!

[Editor note: http://americajosh.com/ does a good newsletter out of NYC]

 

Aussies looking for opportunities – 6th Feb 2018

Mayumi Kato – Product

“Hi G’DAY SF, My name is Mayumi Kato and I am looking for product or partnership roles in SF. I have 6+ years product experience in financial services & IT. Preference for small-medium fin-tech & tech. If you are hiring or able to make an introduction, please DM me at maykato@gmail.com or www.linkedin.com/in/mayumikato   Thanks!”

Christian Burgin – Product

“I recently moved to San Francisco from Melbourne, looking for a new role. I’m a product manager with 3 years of experience working in financial services and insurance.

I’ve delivered a seamless bank feeds experience to over 50,000 customers through integration with Xero, built an online insurance portal end to end which resulted in winning a $20m+ client and led the digital and technology strategies for NAB, one of Australia’s largest banks.

My preference is for a product manager role, but I realize there’s a lot of good I can do and a lot I can still learn in a huge range of roles. I’m reliable, determined and passionate about building awesome customer experiences. Here is my LinkedIn, and you can reach me at christian.burgin8@gmail.com.

Let me know of any opportunities – thanks!”

James Bennet – Comms, Storytelling & Media

“I landed in SF last month. Just finished several amazing years in India as the ABC’s South Asia Correspondent – finding, filming, photographing and producing stories from India and around. Phenomenal experience. Although as an outdoor-nut, I did battle breathing Delhi’s smog. Exploring this city and surrounds; bike riding, surfing and skiing feels like being reborn!

A lovely American lady lured me here. Keen to stay, I’m hungry to find the right outlet for my creative storytelling skills. I was a video journalist abroad so I write, shoot video and photos and edit etc, but I also love working with people. Having done all sorts of assignments I’m a handy stakeholder and project-manager too. I’m looking for PR/media/communications/content creation type roles.

I love the idea of tech than can solve human problems, so would also love to hear from organisations looking abroad who could benefit from my Government relations/developing world experience.

Contact info

(Former Correspondent) Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Cell: +1 628 224 2329LinkedInTwitter.”

 

Aussies of the Bay – Ankit Talwar

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Ankit Talwar, Senior Accountant, Living in Mission Bay, San Francisco. Founder of discwallets.com

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

First came to the Bay in Feb 2017, one year anniversary coming up this week! Working and living in San Francisco, USA has always been a dream of mine after university, after many years in Australia and spending last 7 years working and venturing across UK/Europe, my timing for the next challenge was perfect, I took the plunge and came over to the West Coast with dreams of learnings and greater successes.

Hardest thing about moving here?

The hardest thing about moving to SF has been finding a role and getting the E3 visa processed in time. Roles were ample when I arrived, explaining the E3 visa to employers was like pitching to a VC (it worked!) [Note by Chris, this infographic may help]

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

My favourite bay area moment is actually everytime someone comes and visits me so I can explore the whole city with them, best moments are looking at the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach and the trail hike in Presideo (trust me it is magical).

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

Being an Australian is the best conversation starter I have ever non-intentionally experienced. Introductions are as easy as 1-2-3 being an aussie here.

The dating scene has being interesting to say the least, tried the app route with good success in meeting great people but feels more disconnected rather than simply meeting someone in person (watch Hang The DJ – Black Mirror episode and that is pretty much the SF dating scene here).

At work as an Australian I always have great banter with my co-workers, talks about travels, beers, life of living in Australia comes up every week.

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

The most American thing I have experienced is going to sports bars in SF, the passionate fans, the clothing (shoe collection is apparently a big thing) and chatters about stats make me feel like I am truly in USA.

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Best advice for anyone coming to SF is to come here with a purpose and an open mind of experiencing new cultures, new eateries, new exploring opportunities and bring the hustle of working in startups.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I leave this interview with a final note: Live, Learn, Explore, Remember You Only Have One Life To Make It Happen. So Don’t Wait.

 

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