After speaking to a number of people in my network recently about relocation, I have decided to focus the theme of this month’s newsletter on navigating the world!
What does this mean to me?
Having had the privilege to live and work across four continents, this theme is of great importance for me as I reflect on where I have lived and the opportunities I have had to immerse myself in different cultures, broaden my horizons and build a global career. There are many different routes to relocation including:
1. Undertake a global assignment with your company
2. Move abroad as an expat
3. Become a digital nomad and work fully remote!
I am going to delve into each of these routes, as well as offer some tips for those considering a big move.
Whether it’s a job transfer to a different city or an international assignment with your company can provide a significant boost to your career! It offers an opportunity to work in diverse environments, gain international exposure, and develop a broader skill set. It can also contribute to your company’s international expansion, market penetration, or knowledge transfer, providing direct benefits to the organisation. Understanding international markets and consumer behaviours can provide valuable insights and perspectives that can influence business strategies; making you a more adaptable and marketable professional. Above all, relocating or undertaking a global assignment with your company is not just a career move; it’s an adventure!
I was fortunate to undertake my last assignment with IBM in Singapore, leading the Asia Pacific businesses across the region! During this time I was privileged to experience Singapore’s National Day, on 9 August, in commemoration of Singapore’s independence from Malaysia in 1965. 56 years young, Singapore is now the most competitive city in the world and was a joyous home for us! The professionalism, smarts, courtesy, greenery, and value placed on social capital in Singapore is extraordinary. For me the Botanical Gardens rate in my all-time top five places in the world to think and breathe! But I believe the greatest, most defining element of life imbued into all Singaporeans is the commitment to a growth mindset and embracing change.
Singapore also has some of the most amazing, interesting pursuits! One that caught our youngest’s Gemma Clarkson eye, for a birthday treat was Mermaid School. As a fantastic swimmer she qualified for the school which is open to Mermen as well as Mermaids, but the time commitment was sadly too great for the visit and short vacation she was having with us!
The next best thing was to watch the mermaids at a local drinks club which showcases the amazing art of underwater swimming and beautifully holding one’s breath for minutes at a time! The bar is set next to the sensational cutaway swimming pool where we dined with friends and thoroughly enjoyed a new first for all of us!
Since the pandemic, there has been a spike in global movers referred to as ‘COVID expats’! This CNBC article shares some great advice from people who have moved in recent times, encouraging those considering a move to factor location, situation and environment into their planning.
Moving abroad as an expat to gain overseas work experience can be life changing. However, I would say it is the more risky decision, leaving behind your family, friends, job and familiarity to place yourself in a foreign environment! There are also elements of culture shock and adjustment, understanding foreign legal and administrative requirements, accessing healthcare, safety and feelings of isolation that can contribute to stress and at times overwhelm.
There are numerous countries welcoming expats across the world, competing against each other to welcome people to live and stay. Post pandemic, countries are trying to encourage foreign nationals to settle and work abroad!
Resources for expats:
A list of the easiest countries to immigrate to given their straightforward programs and visa opportunities: https://visaguide.world/tips/easiest-countries-to-immigrate-to/.
The best countries for expats: https://goexpat.com/countries-welcoming-expats-with-new-visas/
Visa information for the following countries, amongst the easiest to immigrate to:
Most recently, my colleague and friend Emma moved abroad to London and has been writing monthly blogs where she spills the tea on her experience settling into life as an expat. You can read them here!
Becoming an expat is a transition that is not without its challenges but the rewards of personal growth, resilience and a more diverse perspective, far outweigh!
According to MBO Partners: “People who embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle have moved from eccentrics to mainstream in less than a decade.” The digital nomad lifestyle entered the mainstream in the post pandemic era, with a Forbes article stating an increase of 131% in fully remote jobs since 2019. Being a digital nomad offers a plethora of enticing benefits, including:
1. Freedom and Flexibility: As a digital nomad, you have the freedom to choose when and where you work, allowing you to design your own schedule.
2. Travel Opportunities: You can explore new destinations and immerse yourself in different cultures, expanding your horizons and creating unforgettable experiences.
3. Work-Life Balance: Digital nomads often enjoy a better work-life balance, as they can set their own boundaries and prioritize personal well-being.
4. Diverse Work Environments: Change your work environment regularly, from bustling cafes to beaches, to boost creativity and motivation.
5. Skill Development: Adaptability and problem-solving skills improve as you navigate various work setups and cultural nuances.
6. Reduced Commute Stress: Eliminate the daily commute, freeing up time and reducing stress associated with rush-hour traffic.
7. Environmental Impact: With a reduced need for a traditional office, you can minimise your carbon footprint and contribute to a greener planet.
8. Personal Growth: Digital nomadism can be a transformative journey, pushing you out of your comfort zone and enhancing self-reliance.
Being a beginner
Being a beginner in the realm of travel is like embarking on an exciting, uncharted journey. It’s a world filled with anticipation, discovery, and learning! Every destination becomes a blank canvas waiting to be painted with new experiences. As a novice, one must have an open mindset, be interested and interesting and curious in navigating the unfamiliar.
Being a beginner means opening yourself up to a world of endless possibilities and not being afraid to fail in pursuit of personal growth.
Remember: 100% of the shots you don’t take won’t go in!” – Wayne Gretzky.
Having a deep sense of curiosity and loving to learn new stuff means that I am often at the “beginner stage” which some may think is to be gotten through as quickly as possible! But, when relocating it is such fun to immerse yourself in the culture, the sounds, smells and joy of new experiences.
We should in my humble opinion pay attention to this amazing period of being a beginner according to this sensational piece from The Guardian. For once it goes, it’s hard to get the feelings of the beginner’s phase back.
Think of a time when you visited a new far-off land. When you arrive you are alive to every novelty, the smell of the street food, the calling to prayer, and curious traffic signs! In this new territory, you are filled with sensory overload and are absolutely ripe for learning.
Take-offs and landings!
As I’ve learnt from Graham, take-offs and landings are the most critical phases of flight due to the precise control required, response required to unexpected situations and decision making factors. As in aviation, I believe our take-offs and landings in life are just as essential to get right, especially when moving abroad to a new country. One’s ability to flex, and overcome dynamic challenges is necessary to having a fulfilling and purposeful life abroad.
Choose your vessels wisely!
Relocation can be a stressful time, therefore it’s essential to keep yourself topped up! I love the below simple graphic by Aletheia Délivré reminding us that we only have a finite amount of personal and professional resources. Choosing carefully how we use our time and energy is fundamental to improving our mental and physical wellbeing. Thinking about containers or vessels is surprisingly powerful and reminds us of Henry David Thoreau’s quote: “It is not enough to be busy the question is what are we busy about?”
“Cultures create their own food in a sense. Each culture is putting its own special imprint on its own cuisine.” — Emeril Lagasse
A new diet!
Navigating the world is about loving other cultures and diving into how other people think, feel and do. How best to do this than through food?!
Food is a cornerstone of culture, a vibrant tapestry woven with flavours, smells, and tastes! It serves as a tangible link to heritage, tradition and community. Food rituals and culinary customs define social gatherings and recipes passed down through generations connect people to their roots, offering a sense of familiarity to home in a new environment!
In a new country, what you eat changes and as your body adjusts to a new diet it can affect your energy levels and mood quite dramatically! Graham and I have been following a vegan diet for some time now, which I feel keeps me nourished and at my best!
I love this beautifully written article that explains the spiritual city of Varanasi – its connections and reasoning for being a vegetarian paradise. Many travel to Varanasi to experience the city’s unique vegetarian food. Even Chefs from around the world are starting to draw inspiration from its culinary heritage, recreating its flavours in their restaurants. Chef Vikas Khanna, who received a Michelin star each year from 2011 to 2016, said he was bowled over by the Vrat Ke Kuttu buckwheat-flour pancakes served in a single Varanasi temple. “I’ve tried my best to recreate it in my kitchen at Manhattan. It tastes heavenly,” Khanna told Lonely Planet in 2020.
Two-time Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar showcases vegetarian fusion recipes, such as chickpea pancakes and heritage tomato salad, that highlight the sweet-and-tart flavour combinations commonly found in the city of Varanasi. What makes Varanasi’s vegetarian cuisine so interesting is how its sattvic and vegetarian specialities are directly influenced by its strong sense of spirituality. A sattvic menu is based on Ayurvedic principles and adheres to the strictest standards of vegetarianism. For example, it forbids the use of onion and garlic in cooking, which are believed to increase anger, aggression, and anxiety, among other things.
A global network is a valuable asset
Whether you’re moving to a new city or a new country, you’ll meet people from various backgrounds. These connections can open doors both professionally and personally. I recommend starting to build your network even before you have landed in your new destination by using social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with and follow people in the location. This can help you find everything from restaurants to meeting groups, book stores to jobs! Additional advice on how to build your global network can be found in this great LinkedIn blog.
I also previously wrote a post on career mistakes to avoid and think a number of these points relate to relocation
SNEAK PEAK – London isn’t just a city, it’s an entire universe series!
SNEAK PREVIEW – DAH DAH!! Thank you to those who read these newsletters, this year, my newsletters have reached almost 100k folks in the past 12 months! As a special treat, I have created a new video series set in London. I would love to get your feedback on the wonderful first video!
I came to London in the early 1980’s to go to University, from a remote part of the Cotswolds in the U.K. For me at the time, this move was like a HUGE relocation – from rural to urban – to a city that, in reality, is a universe! From studying to exploring the city as a student, from my first job to taking my first CEOship on Old Burlington St, London holds a special place in my heart and I am so excited to share some of my favourite spots and fun facts with you all!
To close out this newsletter, I would love to end on a quote from Thomas Cook, the ultimate travel seeker to encourage anyone thinking about moving abroad to take the leap and do it!
Have you relocated previously, recently or are in the process of doing so? Would love to hear your stories and advice in the comments!