AUCKLAND, New Zealand, April 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- They share the same surname, they are not related and they lived in different parts of the world. They both settled in New Zealand -- and have never looked back.
Billy Walsh, a middle-aged banker, packed up his family and their belongings and moved from Dublin in Ireland to Auckland. Samantha Walsh studied at Auckland University on a student exchange programme from Baltimore in the United States, and didn't want to leave her 'adopted' country.
Billy and Samantha are telling their immigration stories to World Masters Games 2017 participants at an 'Auckland -- A Smart Move' seminar on April 27.
The seminar, organised by economic growth agency, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), describes the opportunities for studying, working, living and investing in Auckland; the economic powerhouse of New Zealand, and the country's largest city.
Auckland is rated first in the world for 'Ease of Doing Business' by the World Bank 2017, and was named the 'Third Most Liveable City in the World' in the Mercer Quality of Living survey 2017. Auckland was also ranked in JLL's Top 20 City Momentum Index 2016, and is ranked Top 30 'Best Cities in the World' in the QS Best Students Cities Index 2017.
Auckland has a thriving culture of innovation, a rapidly-growing economy and a diverse and skilled talent pool – though skills shortage do exist. The city boasts a wide range of world-class universities, tertiary institutions, secondary and primary schools offering courses in everything from physics to farming. The universities and Crown Research Institutes are producing ground-breaking research and development and intellectual property.
The World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland has attracted nearly 28,000 participants and supporters, and attendees at the seminar will come from the UK, Northern Europe, South Africa, Canada, United States and Asia.
Billy's story is the epitome of how welcoming and flexible Auckland and New Zealand is -- how easy it is to take up a new job when skill gaps exists.
Billy's wife Nuala spotted an advert in The Sunday Times (one advert for one day in one newspaper) for a Commercial Relationship Manager at the National Bank in Auckland. After 30 years working for the Bank of Ireland in Dublin (latterly as the National Commercial Collateral Manager), Billy wanted "a new adventure'' and applied.
He completed successful interviews in London and very soon he, his wife and two boys Andrew and Peter were on the plane for a new beginning in New Zealand.
"Half the battle of having an interview from overseas and immigrating is to be 100 per cent honest,'' says Billy.
"I was open and frank in the interviews; there's nothing to be gained from pretending you are something you're not.
"They are giving you a job based on your skills and ability, and if you mislead the outcome then you will be found out very quickly on your arrival. That will manifest in you becoming insecure and miserable in a new country.''
The Walsh family arrived in Auckland in 2006, found their "slice of heaven'' and have no intention of returning to Ireland. Billy, now aged 57, is now Commercial Partner with BNZ Bank in East Tamaki, Andrew and Peter have graduated from Auckland University, and Nuala is the Enrolment Officer at Macleans College with 2500 pupils.
"We embraced what we came to, joined clubs and met loads of people,'' says Billy. "When emigrating you've got to throw away what is engrained in you. For instance, wages may be lower but you need to balance that out with income taxes, medical care, ACC and GST which are more favourable,'' says Billy.
"You have to look at the whole proposition and all the other benefits that come with living in Auckland and in New Zealand.
"In Ireland you work for 48 weeks on the dream of a two-week continental holiday in the sun. Nearly every weekend is a holiday in New Zealand -- the weather is warmer, you can make plans and get into the outdoors.
"There's so much to see and do on the Auckland doorstep -- sports events, markets, shows; on many occasions you have to make choices,'' says Billy.
Andrew is an Engineering Geologist in Auckland, with interests in half ironman and canoeing. In his final year at school he had a six-week internship with Team New Zealand America's Cup yachting. Peter is completing his postgrad in Teaching, and is a Black Tip in Taekwondo.
Billy says the education is great in Auckland -- "the boys would not have had the same opportunities at university in Ireland'' -- and New Zealand is a much safer place for my family to grow up in.
"Nuala and I appreciate the can-do attitude of New Zealanders -- there is scope to follow your dreams and an environment that is welcoming and supportive.''
Samantha Walsh, who was brought up in Connecticut, first came to Auckland in 2009 for four months' study. "The second I stepped off the plane I felt at home, and this was just at the airport. It was a weird feeling -- I just felt content.
"My experience at Auckland University was incredible -- it wasn't just the learning but the exposure to different people and cultures. It was such an eye-opening and engaging experience.''
Samantha returned to Loyola University in Baltimore and completed her BA degree in Business and Marketing. "I had fallen in love with New Zealand and knew I needed to go back.''
She arrived on a working holiday visa in November 2010, travelled the country, worked in hospitality and eventually wound up working for a boutique marketing, public relations and events agency in Auckland. "I had on-the-ground experience, built connections and learned a lot about what I wanted to do with my career.''
Samantha did return to the United States but longed for New Zealand. She successfully applied for a marketing and communications role in New Zealand's Trade and Enterprise's (NZTE) New York office.
She worked there for three and a half years before arriving back in Auckland in August 2016 on a work to residence visa as a Business Partner in NZTE's marketing team (called the Creative Hub).
"In New York we worked with companies to help them succeed in-market. My current role supports a company's journey before they go offshore. It's pretty neat seeing both sides of the export journey.
"While working in New York I met some amazing Kiwi companies and entrepreneurs wanting to make a difference overseas. They're so passionate -- there are really smart, talented people coming out of New Zealand,'' says Samantha.
"I've had an interesting journey of my own -- I've sort of lived three lives in New Zealand as a student, a tourist and a professional. While my occupation may have changed, one thing I've always loved are the weekend getaways and exploring New Zealand.
"Over the years I've been able to share my passion for New Zealand with friends and family -- even people I haven't seen for years. They'll see the pictures and ask about New Zealand and my life here. The next thing they are booking flights half-way across the world to discover this country for themselves,'' Samantha says.
ATEED - Senior Communications Advisor
SOURCE Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED)