Working with a coaching client recently, and in her session it became necessary that I share a little more about my career story. When I did, she found huge value and power in my story. Not because we have similar career backgrounds, but because she realised that I too have been there. I too have had to ‘give up’ a lot and make changes and sometimes just do something not because it was my ideal, but to serve my need to add value. She found power in my story because I get it, I know the hurdles but I also know how to overcome them.
I realised in this session, I share a lot about myself and my perspective, but I haven’t actually shared my career story with you. So, for those who are interested, this is my story.
At university I studied Psychology, I wanted to be a Neuropsychologist and support people in rehab after brain injury. I had big ideas, but unfortunately I’m not a top student, and my grades just weren’t high enough to get into the honours programme that year.
But I also graduated in a recession, and there were no jobs, no graduate programmes, nothing available. So I continued my part time jobs coaching volleyball and working behind the bar pulling beers. This led to me studying Hospitality Management, which got me into hotels and a corporate trainee position in Perth. When I finished this program I was asked to act in the Human Resources Manager role for 6 months.
At the end of the 6 months, I followed a boy to New Zealand, it didn’t work out, he left and I stayed. And I pursued a career in HR. I started as PA to the HR Director, and I worked hard to develop my career. My company, a large FMCG dairy company, paid for me to study Post Grad Dip in Business (HR), after a couple of years I got moved into Learning and Development in the manufacturing division. Then I moved to the government/public sector as a generalist, followed by my first management position for an energy company in their call centre, back office processing centre.
I was finally making some inroads into my HR career when hubby got transferred to Hong Kong. Fortunately for me, in Hong Kong it was easy as a dependent to work, so I landed a regional HR leadership position in a law firm.
Two years later, hubby got transferred to Mumbai, India and I was pregnant about to give birth. We literally landed and I had around 6 weeks to find somewhere to live and book the hospital! Miss J was about a month old when I got the opportunity to provide relocation support to expats arriving into Mumbai. I thought, why not? So for the next year I was a part time destination consultant. I was also volunteering with Room to Read, supporting the events team to raise funds for libraries and scholarships for girls.
Then the Earthquake destroyed the in-laws home in Christchurch, we were visiting at the time, and we made the decision to stay in New Zealand to support them through the process of recovery and insurance claims. I tried to get contract work in Christchurch, but with everything decimated, there wasn’t anything available.
Towards the end of the year, a role in Delhi came up for hubby… and I was pregnant again. So we landed in Delhi with around 4 weeks to sort the ‘home’ and book the hospital for delivery of Madam S.
As an expat on a dependent visa, it is not easy to work in India, so again I couldn’t pursue my HR career. However, one weekend at a BBQ I ran into an ex-colleague from New Zealand, and I was offered the opportunity to retrain as a coach with the World Institute for Action Learning. Running workshops and consulting for senior executives was a brilliant experience for me. I did some pro bono coaching work with an NGO called STOP which rescues women and children from trafficking, and for this I won the Global Excellence in Coaching award. I also volunteered with the expat networking group in Delhi, eventually becoming vice president. With two little girls, I was a busy mum, but I loved it.
After over 3 years in Delhi, hubby got transferred to Chongqing, China. The biggest city in the world that no one has ever heard of! I was hoping to continue using my coaching and workshop experience I had gained with WIAL, but unfortunately language was the barrier. So when the school asked for volunteers for the Parent Organisation, I stepped up. Only to discover there was no PO team! So I created a team and revamped the parent community, creating wonderful opportunities to connect and contribute to the school. I also started an expat walking group, there were 5 of us when I started, when we left there were over 100 members!
When the girls were 7 and 5 we were transferred to Taipei, Taiwan. Again, I thought I could return to my HR career, but alas language continued to be a barrier. So I made a decision, I wouldn’t say yes to anything. I wouldn’t volunteer immediately. I wanted to take my time and decided I really needed to do something for me. But I had no idea what that was.
A few months into our time in Taiwan I discovered Tandem Nomads and I enrolled in the Business Idea Accelerator programme. The best thing I have done for myself, potentially ever! It was through Amel and Sundae’s coaching that I discovered my passions, my dreams and channeled my energy into creating Expat Parenting Abroad.
I feel hugely privileged to have had so many amazing opportunities and career twists along my journey. My proudest achievement so far is Expat Parenting Abroad. I love the impact I am having on the parents I work with, the changes they are making and the way they are turning their lives around.
When I reflect on my career story, I can say the one thing that has always been paramount to me, is that I add value. No matter if it’s a volunteer position or a paid position, I need to be adding value to the people I am working with. It is this passion that has led me to what I am doing now.
What’s next… well I actually have some exciting things planned for you! Stay tuned over the coming weeks to find out more.
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