Approaching 5 years since his gap year, we caught up recently with Simon Hall from the UK about his time in Australia.
Q. Where and when did you spend your gap year overseas?
A. I was fortunate enough to spend 15 months living and working at the Whitsunday Anglican School in Central Queensland, caring for 70 energetic boarders and teaching sport to over 200 of the youngest students at the school. Beyond this, I had the opportunity to travel extensively across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji – both with the school and with friends and family during the school holidays.
Q. What is your fondest memory of your time overseas?
A. The opportunity to see the difference I made in the lives of the students moving into the next phase of their lives, while also seeing the enjoyment and progression I managed to drive amongst those starting out in their school life was refreshing. But doing this alongside colleagues and students I shared some truly memorable experiences with, both in and outside work, was incredibly special. If I had to pick one from the list, growing the school’s rugby union programme from the ground up was a taxing but ultimately rewarding role. Taking a group of boys who had never played the game and coaching them to second at the regional 7s tournament was a proud achievement for me personally and for the students taking part.
While it is equally difficult to single out one moment from my travels, the five weeks I spent with Kiwi Experience was truly a once in a lifetime experience. The places I saw, the things I had the opportunity to do, and the friends I made have stayed with me to this day. I couldn’t recommend this enough to any gappies looking to explore a truly unique country during their down time.
Q. Where are you now / what are you doing?
A. I’m currently working as a brand innovation consultant, working with the everyone from Mondelez to Anheuser-Busch InBev. Upon my return to the UK, I spent two years working as a management consultant at one of London’s fastest growing boutique consultancy firms, creating strategy, building leadership capability and igniting change at every level of large scale organisations. But after three years living and working in London, I’d encourage anyone joining the programme to make the most of every opportunity – you’ll remember it long after it’s over!
Q. How did a gap year (positively or negatively) assist you when you returned home and in later life?
A. The time I spent with the Letz Live programme allowed me to grow as a person; step changing my ability to communicate, listen, organise and lead people. It also crystallised my belief that I wanted a career where I could truly make a difference, whether that be coaching the next generation of Wallabies or helping organisations create products that genuinely help the environment.
The experience allowed me to mature as a person – developing my ability to live independently, and ultimately instil the discipline and vision in those I taught or cared for. But I’m sure I learnt more from them than they ever learnt from me.
Q. What advice would you give to those considering a gap year?
A. Without breaching Nike’s copyright terms, I’d recommend people thinking about a gap year to ‘just do it’. It’s too easy to make excuses or get hung up on the potential stumbling blocks, but it will be the best thing you’ll ever do!
Q. Would you do a gap year again?
A. The passion for travel is still there. But I feel the opportunity to live somewhere for an extended amount of time and truly become part of the community is something quite unique. I’d love to do another gap year, but practically speaking, I’d urge people to do it once and do it well. It’s unlikely you’ll get the time or opportunity to do it later in life.