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Innocent, Loughborough

Innocent Kenne Douanla moved from Loughborough to the Isle of Man with his young family in 2022. Innocent is an Operations Supervisor at Swagelok; a $1.8 billion, privately held company. Swagelok designs, manufactures, and delivers an expanding range of high-quality fluid system products and solutions, and employs over 230 members of staff in the Isle of Man.

How long have you lived in the Isle of Man and what made you move here? 

My wife grew up in the Isle of Man and we visited the Island every summer for our holidays. Over the years I grew to love the Island and could really see us having a wonderful life there. I was attracted to the slower pace of life, the scenery – especially the beautiful beaches, and how safe it was for our young daughter.  
My wife who is a Midwife, and myself an Operations Manager, were key workers throughout the Covid pandemic; it was an incredible stressful period, and it certainly made us reassess life and what we wanted our future to look like. And so, after careful consideration, we decided to move to the Island in early 2022.  

How would you describe the Isle of Man to someone that has never been? 

Here, everything is on your doorstep – whether that is your work, your friends and family, things to do. We were previously living in the Midlands and were completely landlocked - you’d have to take a day out to just go to the beach. In the Isle of Man, the coast is never more than a 10-minute drive away! As a family we can nip down to one of the many beaches after work, appreciate some downtime, relax, or play on the beach and enjoy a well-earned ice cream or fish and chips!  
The scenery here is out of this world – and so different from town to village. The Island is also an incredibly well-kept and clean place to live. The water is crystal clear, and the streets free of graffiti and litter.  
For our daughter it is a safe place to grow up – but also an incredibly fun place to live! She feels like she’s on a permanent holiday! There are so many activities and clubs for her to join, from horse-riding to gymnastics. The Island itself is one giant playground – there’s plenty of free things to do too; the parks, the glens, plantations and of course the beaches. Unlike the UK, these places are typically free of crowds, which makes the experience so much more enjoyable. 

Read our Moving Yourself to the Isle of Man Guide


Tell us about your role and what you most enjoy about it? 

Although I’d visited the Island many times, when I started my job search, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was home to a well-established Engineering and Manufacturing sector. There are some big global players in the Isle of Man – all quite diverse and unique in their product offering. From aviation and aerospace to precision engineering and traditional manufacturing, it is an industry that is growing rapidly, and in many innovative areas. 
I was fortunate enough to secure the role of Operations Supervisor at Swagelok after sending my CV and cover letter to the organisation on a speculative basis.  Swagelok were very accommodating of my move to the Island and are an exceptional employer. They look after their staff, and the staff look out for each other. It is one of the friendliest environments I have worked in, and I think this is a testament to the Island’s engineering and manufacturing sector in general, where staff attrition is on average much lower. 
These organisations heavily invest in their staff, and this is evident by the number of apprenticeship programmes that run across the engineering and manufacturing industry here. Together many of the leading players create training and development platforms to skill up the workforce on the Island. There are always going to be positions in the industry here – across a variety of areas and seniority levels. 
At Swagelok especially, it’s not all about the bottom line; instead, it is about getting the best out their employees. I certainly feel I have more mental capacity in this role than in my previous job; you don’t have the same pressures but are still encouraged to grow and progress. I did a lot of research on the sector before I moved to the Island, and it is evident that these are safe and sound organisations, with markets that are growing exponentially. It is an exciting time to join, and an exciting time for the Island. 

How was your experience moving to the Isle of Man? 

It was a very easy process; my wife is Manx so she was exempt from any work permit process. I was then able to acquire a co-habiting work permit based on her residency.  
We are yet to sell our property in the UK and were fortunate enough to be able to stay with relatives on the Island until we have completed the sale. However, the logistics of getting here were all quite straightforward, as there are several routes on and off the Island. Something however others should take into consideration when moving to the Isle of Man, is the additional time and cost required when travelling off Island.  
There’s also plenty of online resources, including the Locate Isle of Man website which helped answer plenty of our questions beforehand. Incentives like the National Insurance Holiday Scheme also make the move all that much sweeter. 

What difference has living in the Isle of Man made to your work-life balance?  

My quality of life has drastically improved since our relocation to the Isle of Man. I have more time for me, and to spend with my family. It is hard to put into words, but you just feel more relaxed here. There is less urgency, the drive to the shop is scenic, the community is one of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered, and the air is so clean and fresh – I’d never had such a good night’s sleep until I moved to the Isle of Man!  

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