My global story began like many Australians. I embarked on a trip to the UK for what I thought was going to be a 9-month working holiday, planning to return home by Christmas. But it wasn’t until seven years later that I eventually made the journey ‘home’. Recently I have been asked to share my personal story and the motivation for creating the Insync Network Group, which prompted me to put pen to paper and provide some more insight into my own global transition which you can read about below.
It was a remarkable and life changing experience; my personal and professional growth flourished in the fast-paced commercial and creative environs of London. Not only did I change careers when I was abroad, I was afforded the opportunity to hone my skill set and enjoy a soaring career trajectory. However navigating the return journey home presented a unique and unexpected challenge. Re-entering my home country was my decision, and being anchored to this decision meant that my return journey was an exciting one I was ready to undertake. However, when I eventually returned to Australia, like many repatriates, I completely underestimated what that international transition involved. I had to kick-start my career again, build new professional networks from scratch after almost a decade abroad, while grappling with a sense of belonging to two different places at once.
I started my career as a teacher, and when I arrived in the UK, one of the great things about having a skill set such as teaching was that it was easily transferable. After deciding to extend my trip after the first year, I was offered a role in recruitment and talent management within the education sector, and my career pathway quickly progressed. Moving onto a large consulting firm I moved into an Operations Director role with the Capita Group which effectively saw me rebuild a ‘tired’ business line and establish and lead new teams during a period of business acquisition and high change.
Upon my return I found myself having to reinvent myself and rethink how to articulate this experience in another market and in a new city (Melbourne not being my ‘home’ town). While this reinvention process was not an easy path to navigate at the time, this process enabled me to think carefully about how I wanted to architect my life and work. I ultimately chose to focus my time on people advisory, workforce planning and training, which became the impetus for launching my own business.
As part of my initial work and the business I have built over the past 12 years, there has been a constant passion and interest in supporting both individuals and organisations that have a global workforce. And a big part of that is linked to the repatriation or re-entry phase of the journey. When people return ‘home’ (and I say ‘home’ in inverted commas because sometimes Australia doesn’t feel like home after living abroad for a long time) how do we actually articulate our international experiences and leverage them for the benefit not only ourselves but also for the organisations that we work for? The Insync Network community was born out of that collection of people who I found were navigating a similar path.
My international life has profoundly shaped who I am both personally and professionally. Since returning to Australia, my time spent abroad has become successfully integrated in to my work and life. My global experience opened me up to new ways of thinking and approaching life, and new experiences to leverage.
Living overseas, for example, strengthened my resilience. Invariably there were challenges associated with living in a foreign country that I had to overcome and never anticipated. Living abroad in itself is a challenge in stepping outside your comfort zone. I learned, as a result, resilience – and that not only do we survive, but often thrive as we achieve much more than we ever thought we could. We can apply the same strength of character that helped us make the move abroad upon the return journey home.
Insync Network Group was founded to support returning expats reconnect both personally and professionally throughout this return journey home. However we are also a network of globally minded individuals who might also be considering moving abroad; are expats living in Australia; or who simply enjoy being a part of a globally experienced network. Through these shared experiences of living an international life, the strength of the network is in the shared knowledge each member of our community contributes to our events and discussions. Repatriation journeys are particularly complex, and deeply personal experiences, however through these three actions, you can navigate a global transition with greater ease.
Know that you need to prepare, and understand why you are moving home. Typically, there are five primary motivations people return. These often can include a partner who no longer wishes to live abroad, aging parents, children starting school or secondary school, lifestyle and career or role changes. Understanding your motivation to return and being truly anchored to it will help you navigate the challenges that other areas of life throws at you. Prioritize and focus on long-term goals.
Connection is at the core of Insync Network Group. Connect with friends and family, a community, including groups and those relevant to your personal interests, and with those who understand and can support your return. The greatest tool proves to be connecting with others who have navigated the return journey, not only when you first arrived, but long after. The grounding of a shared experience, intuitive understanding and a general willingness to share local networks and experiences proves to be invaluable.
Continue to create opportunities that inspire you and pique your curiosity – just as you did when you lived in a foreign country. When I lived in the UK, it was all about weekends away and holidays. I made sure that there were still plenty of local trips planned and that I continued to explore new areas in Victoria and Australia.