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Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

Enterprise Helped This Manager Achieve His Dream of Working Abroad

Nicolas Al Maalouf, a program manager at Enterprise
Nicolas Al Maalouf, a program manager at Enterprise who is based in Spain.
| Courtesy of Nicolas Al Maalouf

According to a recent survey from The Conference Board, 58% of workers are likely to leave their company if they don’t have access to professional development or career training. Enterprise Holdings understands this all too well, and believes that career development is critical to attracting and retaining top talent. In this series, three Enterprise employees share how they’ve worked their way up at the company, where internal mobility is embedded in the culture. Read on for part three, and check out parts one and two.

After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2010, Nicolas Al Maalouf followed in a friend’s footsteps and applied for the management trainee program at Enterprise.

“I remember when I first started, a senior manager asked me about my future plans,” he says. “I was honest and said I didn’t think this was for me because I really want to work abroad and felt like it was going to be tough to do that at Enterprise. She said, ‘I think you’re going to be here much longer than you think.’”

Al Maalouf’s manager was right. More than 13 years later, he’s still working at Enterprise, and has held positions in Orlando (where he started as a branch manager), France, the United Kingdom, and Spain, where he’s currently a program manager based in Madrid.

“I’m responsible for building the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand and culture in Spain,” he says. “We have the same logo here, but the work culture and even the cars are very different.”

Here, Al Maalouf shares how working at Enterprise has enabled him to achieve his dream of living abroad, why he loves being a manager, and his keys to career success.

Tell us about your career trajectory at Enterprise. Did you intend to stay this long?

I didn’t go in with that expectation. My expectation was to do a short internship and then move on to something else. However, my managers kept me engaged and showed me opportunities for internal growth, which made me want to stay. They told me if you work hard and are passionate about what you do, there will be a lot of opportunities. That’s what is so amazing about Enterprise.

How did the chance to move abroad with Enterprise come about?

In 2012, my second year at Enterprise, we acquired a company that operates in France and Spain, and when I found out about it, I knew it was going to get me what I wanted, which was an international career. It was exciting to be able to potentially work at the same company but in Europe.

I started talking to HR and asking about my options, as well as quarterly one-on-ones with the HR manager. The conclusion was to keep doing what I was doing and when an opportunity presented itself, they’d let me know about it. But I was very persistent.

Soon after, I attended a global meeting in Orlando, and HR suggested they schedule a panel interview with senior leaders from France. It went well, and I was given the chance to move to France and be a branch manager.

It was really exciting to be part of the French group, but I felt like I could better support the operations from a different angle. I moved to the United Kingdom and spent some time in revenue management. It was very analytical, and I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my biggest strength. From there, I took a position in global franchising. We operate in 100 territories or countries across the world, so it was really exciting to move into that space. For that job I was basically traveling every week to different markets across Europe, which was a dream life.

How did you end up moving to Spain?

I was in global franchising and loving life but I always wanted to live in Spain. I started mentioning it in one-on-one conversations with my manager and mentor in the U.K. At Enterprise, managers don’t say, “Oh, this guy is looking to go to a different country.” We’re open to talk about those things. The opportunity presented itself so I moved to Spain as an area manager, and spent two and a half years working outside of the corporate structure and back in daily rentals.

Two people standing in front of a train station in London
Nicolas Al Maalouf (right) and his husband in London, where he lived while working for Enterprise.
| Courtesy Nicolas Al Maalouf

Why did you always want to work abroad?

My mother is French and my father is Lebanese, so I’ve had an international experience throughout my life while traveling and visiting family. I feel like I understand different cultures very well.

What do you love about working for a company with endless opportunities for growth?

I’ve had many roles within the organization and constantly feel like I’m learning something. When I started in my current position, I thought, “Wow, I’ve been at the company for over a decade, and yet I’m learning something new.” I’m constantly being challenged and never feel like I’m getting stuck.

Having worked both in the field and in corporate roles, what do you like about each?

At this point it’s been about five years in corporate and seven years in the daily rental field. It’s a good balance. In the corporate roles, you have more exposure to senior management and you’re able to get involved in other business initiatives.

What I loved about being a manager on the daily rental side is that you own the successes and failures of the business. You also have a team around you. One of the most important jobs as a manager is to motivate and train your people.

If someone just starting out asked you what skills it would take to succeed in their career, how would you respond?

First, you need to be resilient. A career is a marathon, not a sprint. You also need to be clear about what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Get close to your managers, and be open to criticism and feedback. Everything you hear about your performance, you need to take it as an opportunity to do better. And talk to the people who can help you get better.

How does Enterprise support employees who relocate?

Relocation looks different based on the opportunity at Enterprise but it’s always based on support, not only financial but additional resources to help your family navigate the change. In my case, Enterprise not only supported me but identified job resources to aid in my husband’s job search and even covered the cost of driving lessons!

What advice do you have for making friends as an adult in a new country?

Be open to cultural differences. Reach out to ex-pats. Find communities of like-minded people who are looking for the same things you are. Join a team or group of interest, like an athletic team, running group, stuff like that. Don’t let your focus be on having virtual interactions with people back home.

Try to enjoy the place where you live. If you’re going from the office to your home and back to the office and not exploring and enjoying it, it’s going to be more difficult.

If you’re moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, try to engage with the language as much as you can, by watching movies in the original language and reading the subtitles and listening to music.