Hailing from the UK, Simon Hall is living proof that moving abroad can be a great way to step forward in your career.
The Sydney-based entrepreneur moved to New Zealand from the UK at 29 years of age, followed by a move to Australia a decade later.
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Simon has a 30-year strong business management portfolio and is a figurehead in the well-being and fitness industry.
He’s held top-level management positions at the likes of the YMCA, the Australian New Zealand Fitness Industry Survey and Fitness New Zealand, as well as contracting positions across some of Australia’s largest fitness chains.
How was he able to make such strides in a wildly competitive market?
“With NZ and Australia being smaller markets I was able to make an impact quickly and build a reputation relatively fast,” Simon said, noting that Australia’s well-being and fitness industry was also 4-5 years behind the UK in a few ways. “[It] gave me a massive head start.”
That reputation lead to Simon being offered a position to good to pass up - opening a $40m aquatic centre in Australia through his position at YMCA Auckland. The opportunity paid off in more ways than one, as Simon also met his now-wife Sondra in Bondi.
While is was exciting, the transition from New Zealand to Australia didn’t come without its obstacles. Simon admits he was lucky to have support and somewhere to live when he relocated (whereas many others in that situation aren’t as fortunate) but that building his networks from scratch proved difficult.
“When you leave a country which has been your home - UK for 30yrs, NZ for 10yrs - you build networks and friendship that last forever,” he explained.
“A move to a new country is both a separation and also a challenge of building new friendships and support networks. Especially when you get a little older that reconnection is a lot harder.”
Simon also launched Australia’s first-ever Kafnu - a shared creative living and working space at Alexandria’s The Mill - where he is currently General Manager. The company speaks to these social struggles he faced, and is one of the very reasons he wanted to align with the initiative.
“This was one of the reasons I wanted to align with Kafnu,” Simon explained.
“Kafnu is a business centred around creating a space where like-minded creatives can collaborate and get to know each other. I love that people can move from interstate or internationally and know by joining a Kafnu they will meet like-minded people.”
Community pride and connection is a running theme throughout all of Simon’s endeavours. He credits Australia’s independent fitness clubs run by families and enthusiasts - compared to the UK’s commercially focussed corporate chains - as a positive change when moving down under.
“I loved this as it made me rediscover the real reason why people join gyms and clubs, which is for the community,” he said.
Simon also runs wildly successful Bondi cafe Brew, and not much else screams community than a packed local cafe.