This blog is the second in our new ‘My time at Highlander’ series. In this edition, we speak to Jamie Shaw, Commercial Account Manager, to hear more about his role in the Highlander team, and why he came back to us after a year touring the world.
Having already worked within the IT industry for several years, I was fortunate enough to join Highlander in August 2017. The opportunity to work with a wider array of offerings for both service and solutions was one I relished, and I was excited to become part of a knowledgeable and family-orientated team.
There was, however, an added complication. My fiancée and I had long been planning to travel the world and were in the process of making arrangements for a major trip the following year. We were at a time in our lives where we had no major ties, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to indulge our desire to explore new places.
For most companies, knowing that their interview candidate planned to jet off after just one year with them would be an obvious sticking point, but from the outset Highlander were incredibly supportive and showed a genuine interest in helping me to explore my passion to travel. It was very reassuring to know that I was taking on a new role with employers willing to help people pursue their aspirations outside of a professional capacity.
Starting out in an Account Manager role, my time was spent liaising with customers, generating and sending out quotes, engaging with our technical team and generally becoming acquainted with the Highlander way of life.
Over the following 12 months I really clicked with the culture and work environment, building great relationships with both my peers and the management team. Although our travel plans were now in place, it was never the case that my fiancé and I planned to book one-way tickets, and I was fortunate enough to be told by Steve Brown (Highlander Managing Director) that a role would be available for me on my return. Whether he actually believed I’d ever come back is for you to ask him!
Departing the UK in August 2018, my fiancée and I spent the next 9 months fulfilling our dreams and travelling the world. Our first stop was Bali, where we kicked back for a couple of weeks of relaxation. In fact, I was so relaxed that I managed to sleep through an earthquake! Despite multiple tsunami warnings threatening to cut our visit short, locals assured us that there was no risk, so we ignored family’s advice and saw through our time in this beautiful and eye-opening country.
From there, we flew to Sydney where we settled down to live and work for five months. Despite applying for several administrative roles, I somehow ended up back working in sales for a medical devices reseller. I enjoyed sampling the more relaxed and laid-back Australian working culture, somewhat of a contrast to what I was used to from my previous roles in the UK. We then flew North to Cairns, rented a campervan and began driving back down to Southern Australia. Despite the intervention of crocodile infested flood waters, we managed to successfully navigate our way to the coast and departed for New Zealand.
After exploring New Zealand with friends from home, we next headed for the States to complete a grand road trip from West to East. We covered all the major cities and finished up in New York, from where we flew to our final stop, Iceland.
Going from the liveliness of New York to the sparsity of Iceland was a bit of a shock, both culturally and temperature-wise. For those who haven’t been fortunate enough to visit this fascinating country, imagine the Planet Hoth from Star Wars! After enjoying the final leg of our journey, we boarded our last plane for home in April 2019.
Having kept in touch with several members of the Highlander team throughout my travels, I had always planned to take up the offer to return. Just three weeks after landing back in the UK, I was back at the office.
It took me a couple of weeks to settle back into the 9 to 5 of working life, but I’ve now adjusted to my new role as Commercial Account Manager, and in truth it feels like I’ve never been away. I’m enjoying the opportunity to engage with our technical team, as well the regular contact time with our clients. I feel like I’m really starting to make the role my own, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.
Although it’s a bit of a cliché, I genuinely feel that my time away has helped both my personal and professional development. I’m indebted to Highlander for supporting me, and I know that everything I experienced on my travels will stand me in good stead moving forward. Even if the rest of the team do mock me for going on and on about my travelling tales…