David Tompsett: International experience is highly valuable particularly when working at a global organisation

Originally from Sydney, David Tompsett initially moved to the UK in 2006 for study and subsequently landed himself an exciting gig – at global job board Indeed as a Strategy and Operations Business Partner based out of London.

To put his job in plain words, he’s optimising opportunities through planning and executing strategies which help the company to grow and extend the bridge that connects more employers and job seekers.

As a global Australian working in the HR industry, David shed some insights to his life in the UK, what surprised him, and biggest lesson he has learnt from living overseas.  

Interview by Tammy Lee, Marketing & Communications & Digital Manager, Advance.

How long have you been in London? What made you choose to leave Australia for the UK?

When I originally moved from Australia to the UK in 2006 it was to Cambridge, not London. I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to study at its world leading university and the appeal of studying there and being amongst leading students was what first enticed me to move to the UK. After four years in Cambridge, I moved to Bath, a town in the south western county of Somerset, and moved to London after this in 2014. I have now been living in the capital for five years.

What was your first impression? What surprised you most about being an Aussie expat living in London?

My first impressions of the UK was that it was well connected in terms of transport links but that its people were sometimes hard to connect with! One of the things I noticed was that the UK’s massive rail network meant it was easy to get almost anywhere, which I could not do in Australia. There was also the fantastic state broadcaster – the BBC – which produces great material that unifies the national identity. On the flip side, connecting and talking to people I didn’t know was more difficult than it was in Australia.

You are the Strategy and Operations Business Partner of Indeed. What does your role entail?

The Strategy and Operations Business Partner role has two primary functions. Firstly, to create a strategy to help Indeed grow in the UK to help even more British people find jobs on one easy to use platform. Secondly, to work with colleagues to plan for this strategic growth and guide key projects that deliver that strategy.

You came from a science background, in what way does it help to create opportunities for personal and professional development?

A scientific background is a huge asset to development. My studies in physics have given me a toolkit of skills that I have been able to apply to many fields through my professional development. I’ve been able to work in sectors from retail to energy innovation through to digital media. Personally, I always look at the world through science, which means I’m easily able to explore my passions through things like machine learning and photography. 

What are the biggest misconceptions about strategy implementation?

Often a misconception is that a strategy comes to someone like a bolt of lightning or like Newton’s apple falling from the tree. In practice it is a process that often starts with talking to colleagues and receiving input from across the organisation. The next step is to put this feedback together with a clear understanding of our position compared to our competitors, to understand our strategic opportunities.

How would you describe the value of your international experience?

International experience is highly valuable particularly when working at a global organisation. Being international enables me to understand colleague’s different approaches and how they may differ at a high level and it even means I am more sensitive to using the right language to describe things in a way that will be understood by all. 

What’s the hardest truth about living and working overseas? Your biggest lesson?

The hardest truth is the challenge of not having family and leaving a network behind. Moving to a new place is always challenging and getting to know people can take time. My biggest lesson is to not judge a place by first impressions. I believe it takes at least a year living somewhere before you can understand and enjoy what it has to offer. So take the time.

Your go-to places for your favourite (Australian) coffee?

When I lived in West London I always went to a cafe called ‘Antipode’, which was naturally operated by Australians! But I think good Australian coffee has been around in London for so long now that you’re never too far away from finding a good coffee. The locals have definitely caught on, too…

What do you miss most about Australia?

The sky. The big blue sky. A close second would be wildlife. Australia has the luxury of big national parks where many native species still thrive.