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From Dublin to Chicago: How a growth mindset helped Kate Saul relocate across the world

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13th May 2024
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From Dublin to Chicago: How a growth mindset helped Kate Saul relocate across the world

Relocating from Ireland to the US back in 2022, VP of Marketing at Ornua Kate Saul shares how the company’s Global Mobility Programme helped her unlock new opportunities in both her personal and professional life.

Fast approaching ten years at Ornua, Kate Saul’s career in the business has grown and developed, having held the roles of Marketing Manager, Europe and Middle East, and Head of Marketing, Foods International along the way. Now VP of Marketing at Ornua Foods North America, Kate availed of the company’s Global Mobility Programme to springboard her and her family into the next phase of their lives.

Relocating from Dublin to Chicago in August 2022 with her husband and three sons in tow, the family found their home away from home. “I still have my Ornua family all around me and have been so warmly embraced by my new colleagues at Ornua Foods North America,” Kate tells us. “The Ornua culture transcends borders and the staff and office here in Evanston feels very much like the wonderful community of colleagues I left in Dublin. Within that lies a network of staff that have trodden the well-worn path that is ‘Global Mobility’ and have relocated to live here. I have received endless support from them.”

Growing up in Tipperary, Kate went on to study business and French in Trinity, the seed for her future career was sown at an early age: “Growing up, my dad worked as a director in an Agri-Food company. My mum was involved in the health and wellness industry and there was a strong emphasis on eating well and scratch cooking in our home. We lived in the countryside surrounded by farmland, so I grew up understanding farming as a way of life for many of our neighbours. I guess if you combine all the things that shaped my early childhood, the path I followed makes a lot of sense!”

Having worked in both sales and marketing over the years, Kate’s appreciation for the world of the retailer and that of the shopper have stood to her well, and getting to bring the taste and story of Irish dairy to the global market is a role Kate counts as a privilege. So, what prompted her to apply for the Global Mobility Programme and why did she choose Chicago?

“Global Mobility chose me! It all started with a conversation around talent management and succession planning before the pandemic. I remember having a brief conversation at home and my husband encouraged me to put my name forward. It was just a name on a page for a while and I forgot about it and got on with my day job. It was only when the opportunity materialised and I saw the job posting internally that I had to think more seriously about the prospect of relocation.

“The idea of experiencing Chicago was of course very appealing. No language barrier for the children, an excellent school system, direct flights to and from Ireland daily, and a support structure of colleagues that had done it all before gave me a lot of confidence that it could work out.”

Kate Saul is someone who has always had a growth mindset, and being open to new opportunities in her personal and professional life has helped her unlock opportunities beyond her own expectations. “As a family, we saw it as a great opportunity to have an adventure, to experience the world beyond Europe, and especially to open our children’s eyes to a different culture and traditions beyond their own.”

Of course, the move came with a whole host of exciting career progressions. Kate explains: “On a professional level, taking the opportunity to lead out a multi-disciplined marketing function in our fastest growing market was a big draw. It means shaping the strategic direction of the business for the future, which really energises me.

“There is a strong culture of professional development in Ornua. If you have an appetite to grow and develop, then the business matches that ambition, which I have always appreciated,” she says. “Learning how the brand is appreciated by consumers in different parts of the world has always fascinated me and in many ways, the US market, given its scale, is like a cluster of different markets all within one country. Understanding cultural nuances and consumer preferences and adapting to those dynamics is key.”

Naturally, a move of this scale is not without its challenges, but Ornua’s Global Mobility Programme helped Kate and her transition into this next chapter as seamlessly as possible. “Everything from visa applications, accommodation, healthcare, and tax considerations were all handled, and I was guided through the process with great patience!” Kate says. “Global Mobility is more than a Programme, it’s a community of people that look out for one another. At Ornua that is a cultural thing and it’s one of the best things about our organisation. I really saw the best in humanity those first few crazy weeks when we arrived stateside.”

Keeping up with the volume of their to-do list during the move was a big challenge for Kate and her husband, and she tells us that the first 12 months felt like something more akin to a dry run before they got fully into the swing of Chicago living. However, keen to embrace this change as the adventure it is, the whole family are out exploring and soaking up the new culture at every opportunity. The best reward for Kate has been getting to witness how adaptable and resilient their kids have been, and how quickly they have made this new country their home.

When it comes to advice for those who may be hoping to make a similar change, Kate says it’s all about considering what Global Mobility looks like for you personally, opening up a dialogue with your manager, and reaching out to those who have already made the transition themselves.

“I see Global Mobility as an accelerator to growing your career. You will test yourself in so many ways; you will learn and grow both personally and professionally; and you will savour this diverse and wonderful world of ours in new ways. As I always tell my sons, ‘Fortune favours the brave’.”

About Ornua

Ornua is an Irish dairy co-operative that markets and sells dairy products on behalf of its members, Ireland’s dairy processors and, in turn, Irish dairy farmers. Ornua is Ireland’s largest exporter of Irish dairy products and has annualised sales of over €3.4 billion. Headquartered in Dublin, Ornua has a strong global team of 3,000 employees, operating from 10 business units worldwide, including 16 production facilities. Ornua’s core purpose is to build profitable routes to market for Irish dairy products.

Ornua offers a range of people-focused policies which are available to all employees across the global business. By recognising the importance of key milestones in employees’ personal lives beyond their professional lives, Ornua is committed to creating an environment where female leaders in particular feel supported, and a culture where they can bring their whole selves to work at every life stage.