In this series, the Global Mobility team in our European HQ speaks to employees about their journey to Wayfair, and what moving overseas entailed for them.
We begin with Bernie Miles, who joined Wayfair as Head of Engineering to strengthen technology and innovation for our Berlin-based software teams. He brings over fifteen years’ experience in leadership roles in both the E-commerce and FinTech ecosystems. Previously, he served as Vice President of Engineering at Stockholm-based tech company Klarna, through a period of high growth and success. Before Klarna, he had roles including Head of Engineering at Camelot and Director of Quality Engineering at Expedia.
We spoke to Bernie about his relocation from Stockholm to Berlin with his wife and two daughters, aged seven and ten, and his thoughts on what to expect when moving to the German capital.
What kind of work does a Head of Engineering do?
Bernie Miles: I’m broadly responsible for ensuring the success of Engineering in Europe, which means both our growth and our engineering footprint on products and services. Berlin is Wayfair’s second engineering site – we have about 2100 engineers and data scientists in Boston and over 250 in Berlin; we intend to continue to grow significantly in the next year.
What inspired you to join Wayfair?
My background has been in high-growth dot-coms and FinTech. I love the excitement, energy, and challenges associated with scaling tech teams. There are very few tech companies in Europe as ambitious as Wayfair that have the same growth potential, so this was a natural choice for me.
What did your decision-making process for moving from Stockholm to Berlin look like?
Stockholm has an incredible quality of life and my family and I loved it there, so it was difficult to think about leaving. We were initially considering roles in the U.S, Zurich, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and London. However, what we love about Berlin is that there is so much to do, with such diversity and richness. There is a great culture and arts scene, as well as good schools. And of course, it’s the Silicon Valley of Europe and the place to be for tech. As we came and started exploring Berlin and the opportunities here, it just started making more and more sense to relocate. We have not looked back since.
Do you have any tips for someone going through the home search process here?
We started our home search before we moved by using online search engines. This helped us to get an idea of the housing market. We also recognized that producing a summary about ourselves, explaining our family situation, and our motivation behind moving to Berlin was good to have when approaching prospective landlords. This helped build a relationship and gave us an edge in securing housing.
Talk us through your experience of adjusting to life in Germany – the good and the bad!
This is our fourth international move and we have definitely learned some tricks along the way. In reality, relocating is a significant life-event and there will be some challenges. You’re moving jobs, country, and changing everything all at once – that can be hard. One of the ways we manage this as a family is to say we won’t look back on the decision for at least eighteen months. Once you pass through that initial phase, you have almost always adjusted enough to really enjoy the experience and you realise how much you have grown through it.
Any final words of advice for those currently in the process or who are thinking of moving?
Wholeheartedly embrace your new surroundings and situation. Recognize that it will be difficult, but in the end, there are many advantages to gain from that kind of a change and growth experience – you’ll be more worldly, and stronger coming out of it.
Tip from the Wayfair Global Mobility Team: German property portals such as Immobilienscout, Immonet, and Immowelt are great websites to have a look at to get an idea of housing in Berlin before your move. Securing long-term housing, however, is best done at a face-to-face viewing after your arrival.