Swapping Bangkok for Tallinn — relocation stories with sisters Suhani & Shreya Bhandari

June 28, 2022

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Life at Bolt

Suhani (Sugandha) and Shreya Bhandari are sisters who relocated to Estonia from Bangkok, Thailand, with their dog Cheeto.

Join us as we hear about the sisters’ journey from boarding school to Estonia’s hottest company, how they first heard about Bolt, and what it’s like living with a sibling.

Suhani is PR Manager (Southern Europe & International Markets), and Shreya is a Talent Recruiter at Bolt.

Let’s hear their story…

Tell us a little bit about your childhood and school experience. What are your most memorable moments from those years?

Suhani: Our parents sent us to boarding school when we were four. For others, it may look like our childhood was harsh, but our different upbringing was the best thing that happened to Shreya and I. 

I can speak for us both when I say that the most memorable moment was the excitement before seeing our parents. 

We’d only see them for 45 days every year, and boarding the flight to Thailand, seeing them at the airport after almost a year, those hugs and happy tears… that feeling is unexplainable. Those 45 days of eating Thai food and being with them were the most amazing.

What did you study at university, and where did you go on to work afterwards?

Suhani: I majored in Public Relations and minored in Crisis Communications in Thailand. I then moved to England to complete my master’s in Corporate Communications at Bournemouth University and wrote my thesis about online dating.

Before Bolt, I worked at a PR agency in Bangkok, where I handled PR and communication campaigns for foodpanda, Jet Express, aCommerce, and many more. 

Shreya: My bachelor’s degree was in International Business and Finance from Thailand. I then went on to study for a master’s in International Business at the University of Applied Sciences, Mainz. 

I’ve worked in recruitment teams at companies like Biersdorf, Unilever, Tesco Lotus and some leading banks in multiple roles — from marketing to data science at both a local and regional level within APAC.

I collaborated with regional recruitment teams to understand market trends and forecasting hiring needs.

How did you hear about Bolt? 

Shreya: Well, that’s a story! One evening, my sister and I couldn’t find a cab, so we started googling ride-hailing apps.

We found Bolt, downloaded it, and ordered a ride. As soon as we got inside, our driver talked non-stop about how Bolt was from Estonia and that a 19-year-old guy founded it. 

Once we got home, we looked up the company and did our research. The rest is history!

What were your thoughts while being interviewed? What did you think about potentially moving to Estonia? And did you have doubts? 

Suhani: To be honest, I forgot that I even applied to Bolt. But I received an invitation for an interview, and that’s when things started to get serious. 

My only focus then was on progressing through the interview stages. I knew that working at Bolt would help me realise my potential. I’d heard of Estonia before, so I knew what I was walking into — although everyone who interviewed me asked if I was sure about relocation. But there were no doubts in my mind. 

Funny story — I applied for a role requiring 7+ years of experience. During my second interview round, the manager asked me why I applied for a position that required way more experience than I had. 

I gave her an honest answer. I was aware of the role and the necessary experience, but here I was at an interview — so I must have done something right!

P.S. No, I didn’t get that role, but the manager offered me another role instead.

Shreya: I visited Estonia while travelling solo on my summer break. I was in Germany and randomly booked a cruise tour to celebrate my birthday. I was in awe of Estonia! I knew that if I aced the interview, I’d be in a happy place. I was nervous but at the same time excited when I first spoke to Mario. 

He was a fantastic recruiter; I knew this was where I wanted to be. 

Was it easy to make the big decision and relocate to Estonia? What/who did you leave behind, and what do you miss the most?

Suhani: Was making the decision easy? Yes. Was executing that decision easy? No. 

I was wrapping up my life in Thailand, where my parents and grandparents had built their lives. Leaving Thailand and relocating to Estonia meant closing a chapter which included leaving friends, family belongings, and a country that was home. 

But I knew it was the right decision and that I’d regret it forever if I didn’t go. I don’t think my decision to move to Estonia was wrong, and I’m proud of that choice. 

When I first moved here, it was a bit lonely. I’d FaceTime my sister, speak with her before leaving work, and ask her to turn on Facetime after work so I could watch my dog in the evenings. Leaving my dog was the hardest part of the relocation. I wanted him to relocate with me — and eventually, he did!

Shreya: It wasn’t easy, but it was a good decision. 

Once we agreed that my sister was accepting the role at Bolt, it was a done deal. I left home in search of an opportunity to build a new home for myself, my sister, and our dog. We were about to start a new chapter in our lives.

Describe your feelings when you were both eventually reunited. Is it easy to live with your sister? Do you fight often? 

Suhani: It was surreal! I remember jumping up and down. I couldn’t sleep the night before. I made sure I bought everything for Cheeto (our dog) to make his new home comfy. 

I waited for them at the airport gate, and he was sitting on top of the suitcase — the cutest memory ever. 

Of course, it’s easy to live with Shreya! We’ve lived together for over ten years. We fight every day, but that’s what makes it unique. We have our arguments, then we go back to being friends, ordering food, and watching crime documentaries. 

Shreya: It was the best feeling ever. After so long, all three of us reunited! 

The first night here was the first time in months that I slept well, knowing that my sister was close. 

Yes, it’s easy to live with Suhani. It brings back memories of living with her at boarding school. We do everything together!

What were the three most surprising learnings/things about relocating to Estonia?

Suhani

  • Dogs are a lot more friendlier than people. 
  • Summer is a legit thing. 
  • Everybody knows everybody. 

Shreya

  • Springtime is so pretty.
  • There are 100+ varieties of bread.
  • How much effort Bolt’s Relocation team puts into making moving such a smooth process. 

Tell us about your responsibilities. What does a regular workday look like? 

Suhani: I handle Bolt’s PR in Southern Europe and international markets.

A regular workday includes mapping out opportunities to push Bolt’s mission and vision in the media and collaborating with external stakeholders and agencies. 

Shreya: I work for the HQ recruitment team and recruit for roles like Marketing Managers, Global Operations Managers, Lifecycle Marketing Managers, Business Analytics Managers, PR Managers, Payments Analysts, Billing Analysts, and so many more. 

I usually spend my day talking to people and finding perfect candidates that can help Bolt grow in exciting ways. 

A recent project is optimising the candidate application experience. I want to give applicants the best hiring experience while introducing them to how we do things at Bolt.

What do you love most about working at Bolt? 

Suhani: I love the fact that every day is different. There’s always a new challenge, a new task, or a new problem to solve. 

I love collaborating with people worldwide, getting to know them and their cultures, and seeing how my contribution helps teams achieve their goals. 

But working is much more than that for me — I enjoy getting to know my stakeholders, understanding their working styles, and being friends with them. That’s just how I work!

Shreya: I love that I get to speak with and work alongside so many amazing people. I can see the value my work brings and its impact on different teams and Bolt’s growth.

Could you describe your team and teammates? Do you also have fun at work? 

Suhani: The PR team is the best! 

Every team member is unique, and we’re from different cultures and backgrounds. Work needs to be fun, and my colleagues make it fun for me.

Not only that, but each Estonian team member helped me with apartment hunting and introduced me to the local culture. They all understood the difficulty of relocating and made sure I was made to feel welcome. 

I look forward to coming to the office and hanging out with my colleagues. And we meet outside of work too. 

Shreya:  My team is one of the most diverse at Bolt. 

We are a total of 70 people from 18 different nationalities. They are the most talkative and friendly bunch at Bolt. The recruitment corner is always chirpy and happy. My team and I work together to find the best people for Bolt.

What do you get up to in your free time? What are your hobbies? 

Suhani: I enjoy cooking, and ever since I moved here, I’ve been cooking more. I love trying out new recipes, spending more time connecting with old friends (all of my friends live in Asia, so I’ve scheduled bi-weekly calls with them), and exploring Tallinn. 

I’ve also enrolled in different classes after work — yoga, for example.

Shreya: Ever since I moved to Estonia, I’ve enjoyed going on walks. The spring season has been so colourful, with flowers blooming and sunshine until late in the evenings. Other than this, I spend time researching astrology and tarot. 

The work-life balance is great and allows me to focus on so many things and activities!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Suhani: Overseeing Bolt’s PR in more countries.

Shreya: I hope to see myself managing a team of my own while leading recruitment strategies at Bolt.

Interested in joining us on our mission to make urban mobility more affordable, safe, and sustainable?

Visit our Careers Page to see all open Bolt vacancies.

And if you’re worried about the practicalities of moving, remember that our Relocation team is here to make your move as smooth as possible.

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