What is your favorite travel memory?
Recently I was able to explore Huangshan, known as the yellow mountains, and the scenery was incredible. The sheer drops and rugged landscape give incredible picturesque views and those with a stomach for heights can take on the overhanging walkways which litter the trail. It is common thought that the mountains of Huangshan served as inspiration to James Cameron for the floating ‘Hallelujah mountains’ of Avatar, and after my visit I can confirm that the resemblance is uncanny. After spending the night in one of the four hotels at the top of the mountain, we set an early alarm and woke up at 5am to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately we were greeted by thick cloud, but on a clear day the sunrise is spectacular and is one of the main attractions for those visiting the area.
Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
This is very subjective and is just an opinion, but for myself if I had to pick an overrated destination in China, it would be Beijing. The city has an unbelievable amount to offer, from exploring its history through Tiananmen Square, to walking the Great Wall and eating delicious Beijing duck, however in the winter the temperature can get icy cold…(I am much more of a warm weather person!) and it can have its problems with pollution.
For me I believe Shanghai is an incredible place to live and teach, however it is definitely not underrated as many people are of a similar opinion and rate it very highly. Therefore I would go with Sanya, on the island of Hainan. If asked for a beach destination in the area, most people automatically think of Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and the other usual suspects around South East Asia. However Sanya can more than holds its own, as it too is home to incredible beaches and offers a great lifestyle for those who live there. A strong mention should also be made for Suzhou in Jiangsu province. The city is scattered with picturesque lakes and pagodas, is home to a large and vibrant expat community and is only 25 minutes from Shanghai on the fast train.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
There are many factors that determine how successful a company is, but I believe the most important aspect is to be passionate about what you do. Enjoying what you do and working hard are a recipe for success, from this you are bound to create value and the profits will inevitably follow. Every day I help schools across the world strengthen the education they can offer their students, whilst helping teachers start their own life-changing adventure teaching abroad. Knowing you are positively affecting so many peoples life on daily-basis is a very satisfying thought, and is why we continue to grow.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I have definitely changed over the years I have been part of Teaching Nomad. Living abroad in any country exposes you to so many different and interesting cultures and people from all walks of life, but you learn even more about yourself. Living in a foreign and unfamiliar country is not all plain-sailing, and you grow and develop as a person through the experiences of being outside of your comfort zone. Within Teaching Nomad we are always challenging each other and promote autonomy, if one of us has a good idea we have the freedom to go after it, no matter how ambitious it may be. So I suppose the main way I have changed is by continuously putting myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself. I used to be a little shy and conservative but if you don’t ask you’ll never know, and from pushing you can only succeed, or learn… but you’ll never lose anything.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
One of Teaching Nomads distinctive aspects and what I believe sets us apart from the rest is our team. We are all foreigners living abroad, have taught internationality, and therefore can relate with our teachers and provide authentic and insightful advice as we have done it ourselves! Because of this we have a genuine understanding of the market and are motivated to put teachers in fantastic positions as we have seen how positive the experience can be first hand. Just recently a teacher we had placed 12 months ago finished her contract and then joined the team at Teaching Nomad, which I think speak volumes about the service we provide.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team
One moment I was especially proud of my team was when we threw our annual teachers party in Shanghai this past September. We were able to see the people we have helped move abroad and find teaching positions, and seeing them having a great time and starting their own journeys was fantastic to see. There was a big turnout of our teachers, with lots of prizes being won and a great time was had by all. I am really looking forward to the next one and sharing some more good times with our teachers!