Tell us about yourself,
My name is Sally Leonard; I’m a Brit and have been an expat on and off for around about 13 years now. I’m married to Randal and have one son, Zach and a gorgeous old Labrador, Oscar, who loves snacks and swimming in equal measure.
Where do you live now, and how long have you been there?
Currently, we’re living on the sunny shores of Sentosa in Singapore. We’ve been here for just under 2 years, arriving just as the pandemic hit.
What do you love about where you live now?
I’m hoping there is more I will love post-pandemic, but for now, I content myself that I can cycle to the beach in under 20 mins and I never have to worry about whether it will be warm enough. I also like food and travel, and whereas the latter is seriously lacking for everyone right now, I feel I’m making up for it by exploring the island’s many and varied eateries.
Have you lived anywhere else?
Aside from a plethora of UK addresses, I did a short stint in Paris for a year when I was 21, which got me my first fix of life overseas. My husband and I had then planned to move to Sydney when we were first married, but I fell unexpectedly pregnant, so we stayed put in the UK before moving to Hong Kong in 2008 when Zach was 5.
How it all began
Where are you from originally?
I hail from the North of England – from Chapel-en-le-Frith to be exact, which is a small, peaceful, countryside market town, known for its stunning countryside, dry stone walls (look it up) and is home to the Ferodo factory (who in 1897 first started making brake pad linings for horse-drawn carts and now who are responsible for many braking systems, in cars, the world over).
What was your reason for moving abroad in the first place?
One day my husband and I woke up and realised we were doing the one thing we’d promised always never to do – spending half our life commuting in and out of London. So, we decided to up sticks and move – the choices were head to the countryside or move overseas for an adventure. Deciding I wasn’t ready to wear tweed and compete in the best jam competition at the village fete every year, an overseas adventure won. Hands down.
Has 2020 Changed you? If so, how?
This is the hardest question to answer in some respects because everything I read right now seems to be full of peoples’ transformation stories, so I feel like I should say ‘yes’ and give you a profound answer, probably featuring something to do with gratitude and reflection.
But I’m choosing honesty and saying no. I don’t think 2020 has changed me per se. Instead, it has left me impatient, frustrated and desperate to get on with things – but those that know me well will say that’s just me! What I would say, however, is that 2020 has magnified my self-awareness – mostly around the fact that I’m an expat for a reason.
I have itchy, explorers feet and being rooted on an island the size of some suburbs of Australia, or the Isle of Wight in the UK, has made me realise I hate being ‘stuck’ anywhere for too long.
Has 2020 changed the way you work?
It’s forced what we do (working with leaders and organisations on various learning and coaching solutions) online. So logistically, yes, it’s changed. And complying with government regulations, I’ve done my stint of WFH like the next person.
But I’ve always been a ‘work from anywhere’ advocate. In addition, I’m a connector at heart – be it people, resources or experiences, so I’m eagerly awaiting whatever ‘normal’ looks like, so we can get back to being able to meet face to face for conversations, food, sports events, theatre – oh and singing! Did I mention I love singing?
How has being an expat changed you?
I’m lucky; my parents took me abroad extensively since I was very little – I have wonderful memories of exploring Europe, America and even Asia as a child, so travel has always been part of my soul. So it fascinates me when I talk to people in the UK who say with ‘wide eyes’, ‘oh, you’re so brave living abroad, I wish I could do that, but I never could’.
I’ve learned over the years to not be outwardly judgmental in those moments, although a little part of me still smiles and wonders, ‘well, you really could, you know….’
What are you working on now?
In 2019 I started a side hustle to our main training consultancy, Black Dog Consultants, looking at learning solutions that put people back at the heart of a business’s agenda. So last year, we launched Resilio, a learning consultancy that has a firm focus on designing and delivering training and coaching around things like designing customer or employee experience journeys, developing coaching cultures, helping leaders develop skills around empathy or having the skills and confidence to talk to a staff member about a mental health issue.
It may look like it was designed purely for a post-pandemic world, but I like to think that maybe I was just having a bit of a crystal ball moment. What a shame it wasn’t a hand sanitiser company!
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. If you or someone you know would like to share their story, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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