International partnerships and cultural diversity – “It’s all about people” for Isabella

A consultant coming from Italy and now based in Denmark, Isabella joined Mercuri Urval at the Shanghai office in China. From her start in Mercuri Urval, she showed initiative to widen her scope of cross-border collaborations with clients and candidates between Asia and Europe. Now working in Copenhagen, she focuses on global Executive Search and Talent Development partnerships.

What do you see as the biggest advantage of working at Mercuri Urval?

The big advantage of working with Mercuri Urval is to create opportunities to add value to organisations by working through and with people, often across markets and cultures - whether it be on a cross-border Executive Search or on a global Organisational Development project. It is about empowering and developing people professionally and bringing positive impacts to them also as individuals.

Another great advantage for me is working with and learning from many skilled colleagues who bring a huge variety in backgrounds and capabilities. This has been a plus from my day one in Shanghai until now in Copenhagen

Can you describe what it means to you to be working internationally?

  • Working internationally means helping our clients build an organisational and cultural bridge between the Headquarters and subsidiaries outside of Europe, and the other way around.
  • It means finding the right Executive, who can bridge local expertise with a global view for our customer's business.
  • It also means showing a new talent development approach to our partners and seeing that our action can make them think differently than what they have been used to.

Working internationally for me is also about applying my personal interest and curiosity for different people and lifestyles, into my work – building up relationships with professionals and companies all over the world. It is about the opportunity of using and hearing five different languages within one day.

Today I feel lucky and empowered to experience all these, managing and participating in cross-border projects in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and America.

How did Mercuri Urval help you grow and develop professionally?

A big milestone on my journey has of course been the opportunity to move from China to Denmark after over three years' working in Shanghai. By doing that, I have joined a team dedicated to managing key cross-border partnerships with global clients. This allows me to continue making use of my international experience and network while taking larger account management responsibilities, to make these key partnerships a 'win' for our clients. The internal transfer process has felt very smooth and was tailored to both mine and my new team's needs.

In my journey at Mercuri Urval, I have been greatly supported by team leaders and colleagues in managing, running and delivering complex projects I have initiated – even in my early days in the company. As a new step, I have joined Mercuri Urval's development track focused on strategic account management and on how to continue bringing extended value to our partners. Here I am meeting experts and consultants from other countries to share insights and gaining further expertise.
This tells you a lot about the culture in Mercuri Urval, to give opportunities and support the development of potentials in the organisation.

What do you think is exceptional about the people at Mercuri Urval?

Essentially, the openness we have towards each other and the feeling that, even though coming from different places, being at different career stages, and having (very!) different personalities, we can work greatly together.

I have been experiencing it with both my Danish and Chinese teams and, most recently, by working on a Leadership Development project in the Middle East together with colleagues from many different teams and countries. I have participated in this amazing and challenging project on three different occasions during 2018. It has been unique to see how naturally it came to us colleagues to get the best out of each other and learn from each other while working in a completely new and evolving setting. Of course, a lot of new discoveries, fun, and new ideas for working together again were also in the picture!

There are several actions going on within Mercuri Urval, to support our knowledge sharing. I can mention the recent "APAC Desk" group, which I am part of. We want to maximise the international business efforts towards Asia Pacific and to share our experience to help other colleagues with projects in that region. We do that by gathering Mercuri Urval consultants who have worked in that area and are now based in Europe and by joining forces with our colleagues in Singapore, China, India and Australia.

Can you sum up your work in 3 words? Why these words?

These three concepts represent what working in MU means to me at best:

  1. Development: of clients, of candidates, of business, and last but not least my own professional and personal development.
  2. Accountability: which means focus on quality and consistency but also the flexibility to be yourself and shape your own approach, while ensuring results.
  3. Diversity: the opportunity to meet a high variety of organisations and, most interestingly, the people behind them, on an international and intercultural scale.


Isabella holds a Masters Degree in China Economics and Society from the Freie Universtät of Berlin in Germany and a BA in Foreign Languages and Linguistics from the University of Bologna in Italy. Native Italian speaker, she is proficient in English, Chinese, German, and Danish.

She started her career in China, following her interest in traveling and experiencing different cultures. Now living in Denmark, she enjoys catching up with the Scandinavian metal music scene.

Isabella joined Mercuri Urval in 2014 in the Shanghai office and is now Senior Consultant in the Mercuri Urval Strategic Accounts team in Copenhagen, Denmark.