I was born in Singapore to a British father and Singaporean mother.
An expat from birth
I think it was my destiny to be an expat/nomad from birth! Shortly after being born we moved to Kaohsiung in Taiwan, then to Valletta in Malta. It continued until 2005 when I settled in Sydney, Australia, which I now consider home.
My father was in the oil business and was responsible for setting up new operations wherever the company was contracted to explore for oil – this took us around the world across 5 continents, and by the time I went to university, I had been to 12 schools during my childhood. We relocated back to the UK – a small village near my Father’s hometown – at age 12 so that my brother and I could have a more settled high school experience. We moved there from Cairo, Egypt and it was a huge shock.
Moving back to the UK was the biggest shock
One could say I’d always had the ‘bug’ – expat bug, nomad or gypsy bug, wanderlust bug…
During my business degree we did a year in business and I worked in Germany. As soon as I finished my degree I moved to the US, to New Jersey for 18 months.
Moving back to London for 5 years following that stint was the biggest shock of my life – funny how that happens!
I spent that entire time in London ‘finding’ myself: working out what it was I wanted to do with my life, knowing that I didn’t want to live in the UK for the rest of my life, and deep down knowing that I wish I was brave enough to explore my entrepreneurial side.
Moving Down Under
I just didn’t have any special ideas or wisdom, so I thought, so I pursued one escape: to leave the UK for Australia.
Some would say that was crazy, as I had never been to Australia before…
To cut a long story short, my partner at the time had sought after IT skills, agreed that he would love an adventure Down Under and we eventually moved to Sydney after a long visa application process and period of saving and preparing for the move.
Now or Never
When we arrived, we continued the same careers that we always knew. After 5 years in the same company, I ended up being made redundant due a restructure and I really felt that it was a ‘now or never’ situation to set up on my own and break free from a 9-5 job to do something I was passionate about.
Setting up on my own wasn’t an immediate and conscious decision. It was a ‘why not’ after being made redundant. I’d played around with a business idea whilst I was still in my job and decided to make it work – the pressure and constraints of working in a big organisation didn’t appeal to me as I was getting older, and I felt the Universe was telling me to share my wisdom and experience. I just didn’t know what it was yet!
I wouldn’t have done it in my own country
To be honest, I don’t think I would have considered setting up a business in my own country – the UK. Australia has such a ‘give it a go’ mentality and positive spirit, I really felt that there weren’t that many obstacles.
It felt like I had lots of support along the way. There aren’t any language or other barriers, so it was definitely more straightforward than it would have been in a lot of other places.
The Expat Concierge
I love sharing my expat experience with everyone.
I run a business called The Expat Concierge: I help expats with their move to Australia and to settle into life here.
I love that I can share my warts and all firsthand experience and help other expats avoid the mistakes that I made by sharing the insider tips and information that I wished I’d had when I arrived here.
The reward of helping people and the positive impact I have at such a pivotal part of their life is really the best feeling.
Secondary to that are things like the personal and professional development journey I’ve managed to take whilst upskilling and educating myself in a different way to studying in the past. The world – especially with technological developments – has really changed, and we’re living in the best time to be an entrepreneur.
If I were to do it all again
I would have sought help much earlier – both in my career journey and my own physical move to Australia. I was not prepared for either of these huge life milestones. Whilst I’ve learnt from the mistakes, there was a lot of pain and heartache along the way – and the path could have been smoother for sure!
My 3 Top Tips
- Life is short: the more of the world you see, the more you realise you want to see, and the more it opens your eyes. There’s much to learn and discover – more than we ever could in a lifetime, so start your dream now!
- Reach out for help – being an expat can be lonely, being an entrepreneur can be lonely – so it can be a double whammy. Make sure that you put your hand up for help and surround yourself with inspiring people to keep motivated and energised.
- Keep travelling, stay connected with the world – that’s how you get new ideas, stimulate your brain, and see things a little differently.