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Interview with Suzanne – an Australian expat living in Scotland

Updated 26 May 2010

Suzanne Doyle-Morris holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and has extensive experience of women in male-dominated fields, coupled with life coaching experiences and insightful interviews with senior women in a range of organisations. Dr Doyle-Morris runs Beyond the Boys’ Club Boot Camp, a fast-track career development programme for high-potential professional females and is the author of Beyond the Boys’ Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male-Dominated Field.

For more information about the United Kingdom read the Expat Arrivals country guide or read more about expat experiences in the United Kingdom.

About Suzanne

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Born in Alice Springs, Australia, raised in Washington, DC, and worked primarily in Europe.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: St. Andrew’s, Scotland

Q: How long have you lived here?
A: 13 years in total. Just three weeks in Scotland – happily living in Cambridge, England for 12 years during and after completing my PhD at the University of Cambridge. If you had told my 22-year-old self as I boarded the plane that I would still be living in the UK 13 years later, I would have laughed in your face.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A: I originally came on my own at 22 to work on a holidaymaker’s visa and have a “backpackers’ experience” for a year or two. But as many best-laid plans go, I also met my British husband during that time in my first job in London. Our most recent move to Scotland was based on a great job he got with St Andrew’s University, and since I can work almost anywhere and travel a great deal – I had no daily commute to contend with, and so it was an easy decision.

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I help companies develop their high-potential women leaders – I speak to large audiences, work one-to-one with high-achieving women and published my book, “Beyond the Boys’ Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male-Dominated Field” just last year.

About living in the UK

Q: What do you enjoy most about the UK, how’s the quality of life?
A: I absolutely love it, and the UK is now home. In fact, I feel more British in that I want to retire to the Dordogne like most Britons!

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: The weather can be frightful, but it makes those days when you can actually put the roof down on your convertible all the more cherished!

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A: Compared to the States: smaller in size, larger in character.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Housing is shockingly expensive, but it’s the trade-off for living in such a great country. The only upside is the relative ease and low cost of getting to the continent. Friends in the US can’t believe when I say we are going to Italy for a long weekend.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: Many of my clients are expats; professional women from the US, France, Italy – but I think that is because London in particular draws high-calibre people from around the world who want to get amazing work experience that will set them apart in their home countries.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: It was easier after I started my business developing female leaders because it meant I had to literally go out and network – picking up both clients and a good number of friends along the way.

About working in the UK

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: Started on a working holidaymakers visa for two years, then student visa while doing PhD at Cambridge and then got married to a Brit.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A: London is for high-achievers who want to work with some of the world’s most interesting and diverse people and have a great career experience that will set them apart.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: I would say shorter days in general (and certainly more holiday entitlement), but like most of my clients in finance, law and technology sectors, I work pretty long hours – but I absolutely love what I do.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: No, originally I came with two suitcases and a gigantic rucksack – and 13 years later, we just had to get professional movers for the first time ever to move the stuff from our four-bedroom house – how does one accumulate so much?!

Family and children in the UK

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: No trouble, it is absolutely beautiful here in Fife– coastal walks most mornings followed by good ol’ Scottish porridge – breakfast of champions!

Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A: Fantastic! The first time I had to go to the hospital, I walked around for 30 minutes afterwards looking for somewhere to pay! Plus the NHS covers birth control pills – a boon for working women and a real sign of an advanced society in my book.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: As enthusiastic as I am now, I didn’t like the UK for the first six years I lived here! I kept thinking life would start after I returned to the US. What a mistake that was – I kept putting off interesting experiences and forming friendships. Once I did return to the US with a view to setting up my husband and me in a life there, it was just a matter of months until I realised how British I had become, which was very humbling and energising, as it gave me the permission to go back and truly commit to life in Blighty.

~ Interviewed May 2010

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