Looking Back on a Remarkable Year in Frankfurt

Goodbye Star Alliance

There are good years and then there are good years. This has been a good year.

I said my goodbyes yesterday and have left Germany, another chapter in my life now complete. For those who did not know, I have supported the Legal and Strategic Sourcing Departments at Star Alliance for the last year and have had an absolutely amazing experience.

After years of public service and government work, this was my first private sector job and my first time living abroad. The plan was to cultivate my legal skills in the realm of aviation and contract law and that certainly happened, but something else happened too: I fell in love with the sourcing field. Strategic souring is an institutional procurement process that continuously improves and re-evaluates the purchasing activities of a company, or in this case, the 27 member carriers in Star Alliance. That was all new to me going into the position, but I quickly became interested and was able to take part in a number of significant initiatives that I can now look back on and see my efforts manifested in the final product or agreement.

It is with some modicum of sorrow that I return to the U.S. and return to law school. You know how it is when you get settled into a new job, a new home, and a new routine—it just becomes natural, and this case I can honestly say I looked forward to going to work everyday. With former United Airlines Senior VP Mark Schwab joining the Star team as CEO, I am keen to see how he leads the company and am sad I will not be in Frankfurt to witness it firsthand.

With my award consulting service growing faster than I could have ever imagined, the opportunity cost of my day job rose, but I compensated through less sleep, not less effort at work. While eight hours days at Star often turned into grueling 10-12 hour days, I have absolutely no regrets. When you are doing some you love, you lose track of time.

It may be that Star Alliance GmbH is a typical small sized European company (I have nothing to compare it to), but I doubt it—I got to know every single one of my ~70 colleagues on a first-name basis this year and formed some deep friendships that will long outlast my time in Germany. Star Alliance is truly a diverse company, with a wide assortment of employees from countries around the globe. As sappy as it may sound to those who work in more monochromatic work environments, the exposure to various cultures and worldviews was deeply enriching. I had two wonderful bosses, and could not have asked for a better team to work with in my business unit.

Since most of my readers are American, I’ll say this—if the opportunity arises, Europe is a great place to work and live. There were things about America that I missed and never got over this year (like good Mexican food and 24/7 opening hours), but the living standard is high, prices (at least in Germany) were actually cheaper than in the USA for many essentials, and the six weeks of vacation gave me time to explore more than 40 countries this year.

To all my colleagues at Star Alliance, I offer my heartfelt gratitude for a wonderful year. It has been an amazing experience that I will never forget.  What the future holds is not yet clear, but my work for Star Alliance may not be over…


anitae33 December 15, 2011 at 03:11 am

And Matthew, you will be missed as well! Thanks for your fantastic support this past year, both in sourcing, legal and food consumption. For my part I only have to worry about back filling the latter position.....

I'm glad the European life suited you (as well as the long leave periods!).

Good luck going back to school and keep on travelling :)

ashley December 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

I will be moving to Cologne in january and hope that you will continue to write about travel commencing from europe. Do you have any recommendations of bloggers and sites that focus on this as well. thanks.

Darren December 15, 2011 at 06:01 pm

Very nicely written post, Matthew. Congrats on incredible year & just keep following your passion, as you are.

ashley December 15, 2011 at 09:13 pm

I will be moving to Cologne in January and I hope you will continue to blog about travel from a European perspective. Also can you recommend any European travel blog sites.

Grant December 16, 2011 at 12:46 am

Best of luck as you return stateside Matthew. Your passion for travel and sense of humor is greatly appreciated by your readers.

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