I graduated with a degree in psychology without a clear sense of what career I would follow. As a young person, this lack of certainty combined with my lack of confidence was a huge source of anxiety for me. But the combination of these two emotions create a restlessness and drive in me.
Graduating in the midst of a recession when the media was full of stories of Oxbridge graduates serving burgers, I didn’t think I’d ever get a job. But I put my best foot forward, created a CV and applied for every job I could. And I got lucky and landed a job for a small accountancy publishing and training company. I was there for about 6 weeks when I came back from lunch to discover everyone crying. Half of the company had been laid off including my boss and mentor. I was on my own and I had to learn to swim fast, or sink. I decided to swim.
Looking back, the great thing about working in publishing and marketing is that I picked an industry and a function that would be completely disrupted and transformed over the next 20 years. The products, the tools, the model are all now very different. When you find yourself in a disrupted industry and you never knew anything different, you develop a skill to focus on customers, to keep looking ahead, and to build your resilience and wellbeing.
Despite the disruption, I loved working in the information industry and over the span of my career worked in every format of media and in multiple industry sectors from banking to hospitality. I got to travel around the world and got access to fascinating people and situations which challenged me and pushed me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis.
Moving to the financial times in 1996 was a great addition to my CV. I arrived just as FT.com was taking off and that whole experience taught me all about the power of brands and gave me a vision of what the internet could become. I didn’t get it completely right, but knew that a revolution was happening and I needed to be part of it. I left the FT and joined a dot.com start-up in 2000 which was so exciting as it felt that we part of a revolution. I cut up my ties and felt free of the corporate world that I just didn’t feel I belonged to anyway.
However, my time in the corporate world wasn’t over. In 2001, the VC investors of the start-up I was working for, pulled their investment and we were not in a good place. The business was liquidated and I needed to get a job, fast. I was offered another job quite quickly with another start-up, but then the call came that Reed Business Information (RBI) was looking for a Global Marketing Director for their technology magazine portfolio which included Computer Weekly. The role was based in Sutton in Surrey which was a two hour commute from my home at the time.
To cut a very long story short, I joined and was to stay for the next 15 years, working in every sector and becoming Global Marketing Director in 2008. Looking back, it was a phenomenal experience. Working through massive business transformation. I joined a magazine business and left a data, analytics and software business. I worked through the sale of half of the company and the acquisition and integration of 15 businesses. I got to lead a department of 200 people based around the world. And I got to learn from some of the best people.
Looking back, it’s funny how things work out. I joined RBI as a stop gap, intending to be passing through, and ended up staying for 15 years as the pace of change kept me very engaged. It was a huge part of my spiritual growth journey and helped me learn about the importance of wellbeing and resilience, and build a personal wellbeing and resilience tool kit that would eventually form the basis of my whole RAW Energy philosophy and framework.
By January 2016, I was in a good position. I was Global Marketing Director for RBI which, after several years of decline, was now growing fast. I had championed and created the RBI Living Well Philosophy and programme that put wellbeing on the agenda in a big way, and impacted the lives of 1000s of employees. On top of that, I’d qualified as a wellness coach and was running RAW Energy as a side hustle. Plus, I’d written and published three books.
I was starting to feel comfortable. I knew it was time to make a shift.
Back in 2010, we’d gone on a 7 week vacation to Australia. We loved the outdoors lifestyle and felt a draw to live there. I remember sitting on Manly Beach and thinking to myself: ‘wouldn’t it be great to live in Sydney for part of the year and the UK for the rest’. We knew that we couldn’t just wake up in the future and decide to move countries without a visa, so decided to take action. We applied and went through the long process of trying to get a visa which wasn’t easy. But we got lucky and finally was given permanent residency without ever living in Australia. This was unusual, but under the visa system, we were only given five years to activate it. That was 2011, and we kicked it into the long grass and just got on with life in the UK.
Five years goes very quickly and in March 2016, I called our migration agent to see if we could extend it. She was surprised we hadn’t gone and explained in no uncertain terms that it was ‘now or never’.
That was a mixed emotion period. We had a lovely life in the UK, but there was a pull to go to Australia. Samson was 9 at the time, Heather was up for the adventure and so we disrupted our entire a life and moved to the other side of the world landing in Sydney on August 12th, two days before our visa expired.
I knew 9 people in Sydney, didn’t have a job and had a massive internal struggle to comprehend what we were doing. It turned out to be a good decision. Sometimes you need to shake things up to experience new growth and that’s what’s happened. Two days after I landed in Sydney, I met Luke Baylis, the CEO and Founder of Sumosalad, who just happened to looking for a CMO with a passion in health and wellness. If ever a role had my name on it, this one did.
Living and working in Australia has connected all of the dots in my life. I’m now working in wellness, food and technology, leveraging all of my knowledge, skills and experience of the past, connecting people together across geographies and living on my purpose: to be a force for good and do work that feeds the minds, bodies and souls of myself and other.
I feel blessed to be living this life, and blessed to have shared this life with my soul mate, Heather, who came into my life when we were just 16 years of age and has been by my side ever since.
Today, based in Sydney, I coach and consult with leaders and entrepreneurial spirits around the world, helping them to fuel greatness in their organisations, their communities and themselves.