“I’ve become much more confident and independent.”
Name: William Parker
Title: Supervisor in Corporate Solutions
Where do you live: Jersey
Where in JTC Group you headed off to: Cape Town, South Africa
What was the opportunity?
To make a permanent move and relocate lock stock and barrel to South Africa
How did it all come about?
I had always intended to work abroad as early on in my career as possible in order to gain some international experience and was very up front about this intention from the day I started at JTC.
Following the opening of our Cape Town office, I was offered the opportunity to move to the Southern Hemisphere in order to assist with the integration between the Jersey and the SA teams as having an aligned culture is a really important factor for us. By chance one of the SA Directors was in Jersey at the time and he took time out of his week explaining not only what the role was all about but also what to expect from a lifestyle change.
We had that first conversation in October 2015 and at the end of February 2016 I found myself stood at the foot of Table Mountain!
How did JTC support you in all of this?
The business really couldn’t have been more helpful. The Group HR team arranged for a visa consultancy agency to deal with my whole visa application, which was a lot of paperwork, to the point that I only had to sign a few documents and attend the visa application. All my flights and transport were sorted and, for the first two months in the country, they organised my accommodation, which was a huge weight off my mind as I was able to settle in and get a feel for the area before finding myself a more permanent home.
Before moving out here, I was also given assistance with the more day-to-day things we usually take for granted like getting registered for healthcare and opening bank accounts that were ready for when I landed. I know this doesn’t sound like much but when you’re trying to organise such things from thousands of miles away it really does add to the stress levels, so I am also extremely grateful for this.
How did your family and friends feel about the move?
Reactions varied! Everyone knew that it had always been important to me to get some experience away from home and so when I told them, they weren’t that surprised that I was moving. However, there were more raised eyebrows and questions of: “Really?!” as Cape Town isn’t normally a city you hear about people moving their entire lives to!
I was lucky to have a couple of months to spend with them in the build up to the big goodbye and I was really excited to make the move right up until I got to the security desk at the airport with my family at which point I became a blubbering mess!
What were your lessons learnt along the way?
It’s hard to put my finger on any particular lesson but I’ve definitely developed as a person and become much more independent and confident since moving here.
I would definitely say to anyone who is thinking about doing something similar to try do a little more research than I did on the cultural environment you will be moving to. I was more than a bit naïve in this regard! South Africa is a lot more diverse than Jersey (there are 11 official languages spoken here) with many differing perspectives in comparison to those of a very small island.
Other than that, I’d say just go with an open mind and get yourself involved in a social life as soon as possible and step outside your comfort zone and make the most of the opportunity.
What has been the highlight so far?
The best thing about the move from a personal aspect is simply the people that I have met and made friends with – my time here wouldn’t have been half as exciting as it has been without them. Outside the obvious tourist experiences of trekking Table Mountain and visiting Robben Island etc, I would also have to say that a wonderful memory involved watching England beating the Blitzboks (South Africa!) in the Rugby 7’s at Cape Town stadium! I certainly wasn’t the most popular person that evening.
The worst bit hands down is being so far away from my family – I have days where I really miss home and question if I made the right decision coming out here permanently and I don’t think I’ll ever stop having those – but they are getting less and less in frequency.
Why do you think the international experience that Gateway offers is important?
From a professional perspective, it feels like I’ve effectively moved to a ‘new’ company with its own internal identity and it’s been really good to experience different working practices, learn from them and share best knowledge from my own time in Jersey. I’ve also had the opportunity to finish off my ICSA Diploma.
Personally, I have definitely developed and matured as a person since moving here and have become much more aware of my impact on others – it is difficult not to be aware of your own actions in South Africa due to the extensive poverty gap which you live with on a daily basis.
I think before I came here I was probably a lot more self-centred and took things for granted but being away from my family and friends makes you realise who’s important in your life. Goodness I sound very grown up don’t I?! But I really recognise that I am a better person all round from the experience.