I remember sitting at a board meeting in Australia many years ago and realising I was one of the few people among my peers who hadn’t taken advantage of international opportunities at PageGroup. I’d heard about the ‘Asia growth story’ – and at some point I thought … ‘it’s time!’. So I moved to Hong Kong, planning to stay for two years. In the end I fell in love with my role and stayed eight years.
It’s important to seize all the opportunities that a move offers – new lifestyle, new friendships and new ways of working. A Hong Kong base gave my family a big and valuable opportunity to travel through Asia regularly and still be a direct flight away to see our relatives in the UK and in Australia.
The best advice I was given was to say ‘yes’ to any social opportunity that was offered. You need to meet a lot of people to find those who will become your core friends. A sense of adventure helps. You have to be quite adaptable and not sweat the small stuff as things do go wrong.
Hong Kong taught me how important it is to be a people first leader. Landing in a new country with zero established relationships made me focus on the relationships with my people. It prompted me to strike up as many face to face meetings as possible to grow my network. That is the best learning experience I took from Asia, and I’ve now returned to Australia to take on a new role with PageGroup in Sydney.
Deciding to move back was a combination of factors. The last two years in Hong Kong were challenging – we faced political instability and a general change in environment. It also made those years some of the most meaningful ones, as I supported my people, giving visibility of how we were going to navigate the new context. When Covid hit and the Australian border officially shut, I felt very far away from my parents and my sister – and I was used to seeing them several times a year.
There is no doubt that moving by yourself is easier than moving with a husband and 2 kids in tow (haha!). I am highly organised so I was prepared for some of the challenges, and Page really helped to make the transition as smooth as possible. Advice – when you move, try to do so with minimal possessions! Start afresh. Children need time to adjust – I tried to brush over it with my children, but they really have an identity with Hong Kong as their home and place of birth, so we are going slowly and giving them time… while they pick up Aussie accents!
An international move is always more stressful than you think – but completely worth it! It’s weird that, in moving back to Australia, so much has changed and at first I felt a bit uncomfortable! My advice to anyone would be: be kind to yourself and use the help that others offer. Would I recommend it to others? My answer is “it is the absolute best thing I have done in my life”. And one day when I’m in my rocking chair talking to my grandkids, I feel I will have created a more interesting story of life to share with them.