Friday, 10 June 2011

Expat Excellence with Nick Winsor

This week Nick Winsor, CEO of HSBC Bank International shares with us some of his experiences of working and living abroad and why even after travelling the world he still finds it hard to name his favourite place!

I have been an expat for nearly 30 years now and have been lucky enough to live and work in many different countries. When people ask me questions like: "What is the best place to live?"or "What is your favourite country?"I find it difficult to answer. No matter where you are in the world, there is always something to enjoy and I guess that with all the moving around I have learned to appreciate different places for different reasons. Places that look tough on paper can turn out to be great fun, because everyone helps each other and generally it is the people that you meet that make the place.

However I would not say that I have worked anywhere really "tough" but to illustrate the point, in 1993, I moved to Brunei from Hong Kong - effectively from the Manhattan of Asia to the jungles of Borneo. Talk about a contrast! Brunei is a small place, without the restaurants, shopping and entertainment of Hong Kong where people tend to go out all the time. In Brunei people are really friendly and hospitable and most entertaining happens in people's houses, so it is more personal and you quickly get to know people. Elvira (my wife) and I met in Brunei and we still keep in touch with many of the friends that we met there.

The biggest challenge I faced was adjusting to the different pace of life and work. You leave a city of 6 million people one day and wake up in a town of 30,000 the next. It takes a while to adjust. However there are always people who are helpful and show you around and once I figured out I had things like the beach, golf and scuba-diving literally on my doorstep, I really started to enjoy my new surroundings.

My most recent move to Jersey has been a comparatively easy one, it’s a beautiful island and as I am originally from the UK, the transition has been less pronounced than my previous relocations. However There has still been a period of adjustment as Jersey is so different to the emerging markets where I have spent most of my career - I have referred to this process as decompression!

So whilst Jersey is a great place to live and work I would still find it hard to answer the question “What is your favourite country?” because wherever you travel you find you are able to make it feel like home.

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