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Work, Perspective

How to navigate intercontinental teamwork, according to Emma

Published on December 12, 2022

As companies across the world have adopted remote work policies, some employees have faced seemingly endless work days and inevitable burnout—but our Virtual First model is set up too keep our productivity high and our lives balanced, and there’s nobody better at championing those protections than our leaders. Senior Finance Manager - GCO Finance Emma Carolan shared how she and her team have found success in a Virtual First world, even with being spread across multiple continents.


What was the transition moving from regional to global like? What had to shift in your role?

The original role that I applied for was to support the EMEA sales team. About three months into my role, I took over some of the APJ and NAMER GCO functions as a Finance Business Partner, making my role a global role rather than regional.


How do you manage time zones and Core Collaboration Hours (CCH) in your role?

CCH are important to me as they allow me to control my calendar. I have two days a week that I mainly interact with APJ (generally in the early morning), and for EMEA and NAMER, my interactions are normally during CCH (morning and evening). If I am covering APJ and NAMER within the same day, I’ll take off a number of hours during the day to spend with my family (picking kids up from school, bringing them to activities, etc.) to balance my working hours. And outside of CCH hours during the rest of the week, I can do focused individual work or spend time with my family, which gives me a great work/life balance. 


How does Dropbox invest in your leadership growth?

I get exposure to a large number of projects and different parts of the business that allow me to get involved with teams that don’t always have a finance business partner. My manager is very good at extending challenging projects/work to me and actively supporting me with these projects when needed.


How do you maintain culture on your team without an office? 

My “main” team is spread across Ireland, Canada, and the US. We have bi-weekly Zoom syncs and try to meet up quarterly or biannually in person.

Within the Dublin Finance team, we’re very proactive in meeting regularly for quarterly Offsites that vary from bubble football to dinner and drinks. We also have a Zoom catch up every Thursday, and it’s a great way to feel connected to other Dropboxers who are located nearby.


What keys do you think can help someone thrive in Virtual First? 

It’s all about involvement. Be good at making yourself available for coffee chats, Impact Day events and team Offsites. Get involved in stretch projects that involve teams or people outside of your direct network. And at the end of the day, have your own social/family life. I can play GAA and rugby every week at 7 PM because I don’t have to commute. 


What part of Virtual First allows you to be most successful in your role?

No daily commute gives me the flexibility to work my own hours. It removes the “presentee-ism” and allows me to work based on impact and deliverables rather than sitting at a desk from 9-5. 


Want to learn more about leadership opportunities at Dropbox? You can check out job openings here.