As an emigre, you tend to feel that you are the one taking control of your life and making all the decisions. After all, you've decided to move to a new country, you're not allowing yourself to be restricted by the place of your birth or allowing your family's decisions on where they want to live to restrain your life and lifestyle choices. You are grabbing life by the throat and making it into exactly what you want it to be, no longer merely a passenger, but the pilot.
However, sometimes things happen which make you realise that although you may be making the decisions, the choices open to you aren't always ones you want! I have just experienced one such moment.
At the end of last week, I met a very different recruitment consultant. Not one of those responsible for putting bums on seats, but one who's raison d'être is to match the right candidate to the right company to create a marriage made in heaven. She has devoted her life to this, hence why she now, very successfully, runs her own boutique consultancy. Having spent some time with me and dug around to understand my motivations and desires, we agreed she would send my CV off for a Finance Director role with a private hospital - an ideal position, very similar to what I've just left in the UK, but in a much bigger hospital. Within an hour, she'd contacted me to say the interview was next Wednesday! My first interview in Australia!! At last, just what I'd been waiting for! Now why has she found it so easy to get me to the point of meeting a client when none of the usual agencies have come close, even when my experience matches exactly with the business they're looking to place me in? Definitely a talented and more importantly, a well-respected lady.
So, today I headed off to the interview, a little nervous, but actually quite excited by the idea that the ball was in my court - now it was only me and my performance which stood between me and a great job! Within minutes of arriving I felt any nervousness evaporate. Shaune, the CEO of the hospital was a lovely guy and we hit it off from the start. The second person who was supposed to be interviewing had been unable to make it and was instead replaced by another Finance Director from another one of their hospitals, who dialled in on Skype. Over the course of an hour and a half, we all got to find out how amazingly closely aligned the UK health sector is to that of Australia and had a laugh at the companies' budget setting processes which seemed almost identical! The role seems absolutely perfect as its within my comfort zone from what I've been doing, but will give me the opportunity to understand the local market within a larger hospital and learn about local reporting and payroll differences which seem to be such a barrier to market entry for emigres over here.
When I finally left, in a cab which Shaune insisted on providing, I had a good feeling about the whole episode. Within a couple of hours, I'd heard back from the recruitment consultant that they wanted to do a second interview with the National Director for Private Hospitals & the Group CFO at their head office in Sydney in 2 days!
Now I can hear those cogs whirring as you wonder why I've prefaced this story with the "impossible choices" theme. Well, this is the perfect role, working with what seems like a great team in a well-respected nationwide healthcare company... BUT the hospital is in Canberra. So, the impossible choice is whether to live in Australia's equivalent to Milton Keynes, take on a great job, but give up everything I love about living in Sydney, including the fantastic friends I've made there, the great groups I've joined; or turn it down and hold out for a job in the best place to live on earth?
It's a tough decision to say "yes" to Canberra, especially when you factor in their weather, which is very similar to the UK... it's already getting pretty cold and we're still 3 months off the coldest month! However the alternative is to say "no", which could result in a) my finding a suitable job in Sydney (although probably only an interim or contract role), or b) finding nothing in the 2 months I have remaining (before I need to be earning money) and then having to return to the UK. The latter option is unthinkable... the one thing I do know is that I want to remain in Australia, which really gives me my answer. I would never forgive myself if I turned something down which would have enabled me to stay and then ended up going back to the UK, so even living for a couple of years in Canberra is do-able if it means that I then stand a good chance of moving back to Sydney. The Sydney market should also be easier to crack once I've been working in Australia for a while and I now have a great recruitment consultant there too!!
But let's not get too carried away... there's still another interview to get through and they may decide I'm not right for the role. In which case it's back to the drawing board in Sydney and maybe expanding my options to a few other cities too.
So sometimes the choices aren't great and even in choosing where you want to be you can't get right there, right now, taking the direct route. But being able to see opportunities within the options you do have available can work to your advantage and who knows what future possibilities they may open up for you. Maybe, if I do end up going to Canberra, I'll find I love it so much I'll want to give Julia Gillard a run for her money and stand for Prime Minister, just so I can carry on living there!!!