01 Jan From Edinburgh’s city centre to New Zealand
Simon Morris works as Head of a Test & Validation Department
in the Telecommunications industry
1) Where did you grow up and at what age did you leave Scotland?
I grew up in the city centre of Edinburgh and left Scotland when I was 18.
2) Why did you leave Scotland?
To go to university in Northern Ireland. I had a nagging doubt in my mind that if I stayed in Edinburgh (or other parts of Scotland) for university that I wouldn’t been challenging myself as much to strike out and try something and somewhere different.
3) What is your job/sector and how many countries have you lived in?
I work as Head of a Test & Validation Department in the Telecommunications industry. I’ve lived in Northern Ireland, spent a year at college in the US, graduated and moved to Eire, met an Aussie girl and moved to Australia and then through work got an assignment to New Zealand.
4) Do you sometimes visit bonny Scotland? If yes, how often?
Relatively often, probably averages out about once every 18 months or so since I moved to this side of the world.
5) Do you celebrate Burns night?
I do now – was only a very occasional thing for me whilst living in Scotland, but now celebrate with other Scots almost every year, I think absence makes the heart grow fonder, and you almost become more “Scottish” when you’re an expat.
6) Has living abroad changed the way you think about Scotland?
I think it romantically, idealises what you think living in Scotland was/is or could be like, although in today’s internet age, having access to Scottish news and media means you can easily keep up to date with what’s happening, and perhaps reinforces your decision making.
7) Where would you like to spend your retirement?
6 months a year in Scotland the other 6 in Australia/New Zealand.
8) What about the independence referendum coming up? How will it affect you and Scotland’s international image?
It’s a tricky one, I’ve got conflicting opinions, the heart says that as a proud Scot I don’t see why we couldn’t or shouldn’t go it alone, the head says that the UK is greater than the sum of its parts and Scotland’s interests are better represented and has more influence on a global stage as part of the UK.
I think some of the recent coverage of the political events back home show that the SNP have a very emotional aspiration for independence but have substantial work to do yet to show what the reality of this will mean to the people of Scotland.
In terms of Scotland’s international image, sure the referendum and its result will fill some newspaper columns around the world over the next couple of years, but independence alone is not going to raise Scotland’s standing in the international community. In this day and age business ingenuity and money talks, Scotland needs to become a leader in a field of business or businesses that attracts companies globally and global companies to come and do business in Scotland, for example in New Zealand (a country with a smaller population to Scotland) and Wellington in particular we have Peter Jackson and his creative arts and film studios attracting major Hollywood producers to make their movies, such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong, Tintin and Avatar in New Zealand.
9) What has been the biggest change for you since you moved abroad?
Having to accept that living, as my father puts it “far enough away from Scotland, you’re almost coming back again”, that I will miss many significant life events of my family and friends.
10) Do you have any plans for living in Scotland again and have you got a message for Scots back home?
Nobody owes you a living, whether it’s the government, the “English” or whoever. If you want to be successful it’s up to you, there’s no point of wistfully looking back of Scotland’s previous triumphs or externalising blame for any current perceived malaise.
Take a risk, try something new, and go with your gut feel. Many thousands of very successful Scots in Scotland and around the world wouldn’t be where they are if they hadn’t pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone.