My Expat Story

In 2005, while living in California, I had been a consultant for decades, travelling every week around the country.  One morning I received an email requesting my help on a proposal for my firm in Australia. I didn’t know much about the Australian system but was happy to provide my input and ideas to help the bid.  The competition was intense and prolonged. On a June morning I got another email that said we might get some work from the proposal.  I asked what my role would be and how often, if ever, I would be expected in Sydney.  The Australian partner and I discussed possibilities such as two weeks in Sydney, two weeks home; a month in Sydney and a week home; etc.  My wife was listening and when I hung up, she said, “Why don’t we just move there?” We were empty nesters with a daughter away at university; so why not?

I sent a quick email asking if moving to Sydney would be possible and helpful.  The response was very enthusiastic.  My commitment to move was relayed to the client and we won a large contract.  One month later, I found myself in Sydney.  We sold our cars, rented out our condo, stored everything else and started a 5 years adventure in Sydney followed by a year in London. Our daughter joined us in Sydney and never left.  She has a promising career and last year became an Australian citizen.  We now have friends, lifelong friends from all over the world: Australia, England, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, Turkey, etc. Our expat experience has greatly enriched our lives.  

During my expat assignments I was fortunate enough to have executive coaches help me make the most of the experience.  When I first arrived in Australia I had no coach; I wish I had a coach to help me integrate into the business culture and achieve better results as I built a new practice.  Later in the assignment, my executive team changed, the direction of the organization changed, and the global economic crisis caught hold.  At the end of 5 years I accepted an assignment in London. Change was constant, and I needed to be agile.

I was lucky enough to have several coaches that I worked with and the curiosity and creativity they unlocked for me helped me through some difficult transitions. While in London, I lost my coach and friend from Sydney to cancer.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss his insights, probing questions, and empathy.