Expat Stories – Ryan O'Donovan

Expat Stories – Ryan O'Donovan

In early 2016, Ryan O’Donovan (along with his dog Django) moved from Connecticut, USA; to Glasgow, Scotland, in order to take up the position of Chief Financial Officer of Cigna Global IPMI. Since January 2018, he has been the Managing Director of Cigna Global IPMI.
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This is his expat story.

Ryan, tell us about your expat move.

I worked for Cigna in the U.S. in my home state of Connecticut and had the opportunity to join Global IPMI as the Chief Financial Officer. I was aware of our international businesses but not exactly where the offices were, where the opportunities were, etc. so this was the first time I was asked if I would be interested in relocating.

I didn’t know that much about Glasgow back then but I said yes! The business sounded interesting and I trusted the people who were pitching it to me. Fortunately for Cigna, to lift me up and move me is pretty easy. It’s just me and my dog so it was a simple decision!

I came over here at the start of 2016 and I’ve been here ever since.

What have been some of the biggest highlights from your expat journey so far?

Glasgow is a very unique and interesting place. It’s charming and has a lot of character. The people here are extremely friendly once you understand that they’re not yelling at you, they’re actually offering you help or just saying hello.

Glasgow is also a very nice cultural spot. I’m a big music fan and I’ve been able to see some acts here that would be impossible to see up close in the U.S. because they’re too big. Here they’ll be playing at places like the O₂ Academy where there’s only a few thousand people at the gigs. There would be 30,000 people if it was in America!

As part of your role as Managing Director, you do a lot of travelling to other Cigna offices. How much do you enjoy that?

Today I feel good about it but I haven’t travelled in a week or two. Ask me again at the end of the month after three long-haul flights that I have coming up and I might be less enthusiastic!

On a serious note, it is really exciting and interesting to get to do this. The value you get by being there in person and looking people in the eye, having a face-to-face conversation or sharing a meal, you just can’t replicate that.

One thing I would say is that travelling for work is not like the movies. I have to tell this to my family and the people in my personal life who think I’m always on Air Force One and hanging out in fancy places.

It’s not like that?

Other people might do that, maybe I’m doing it wrong! It’s more like trying to get to sleep on the plane, going out to meet people and attending meetings, things like that.

Luckily for me I have the privilege of being energized by the business so that helps a lot. I think you need that drive to be able to travel that much.

Finally, how would you describe your expat journey in 10 words or less?

Football, haggis, whisky, long-haul flights, culture, diversity, growth.

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