Ali Hawa, GibraltarAli Hawa, Director and Head of Regulatory Compliance at Amber Gaming, relocated to the Isle of Man from Gibraltar in late 2020 with his young family.
How long have you lived on the Isle of Man and what made you move here?
My family and I moved to the Isle of Man in December 2020, after living in Gibraltar for 12 years. There were many reasons for the move, the first being family – my family are based in Newcastle, and we wanted to be better connected to them, and avoid long flights back and forth.
We did consider London as an option, but being from a gaming and compliance background, I knew of the Island’s stellar reputation in these areas and that there was a great variety of senior roles within the industry – which are hard to come by in my profession. Many of my peers and colleagues had worked and lived in the Isle of Man, and always spoke so highly of it, and given its similar-ish size to Gibraltar, and it having the same expat environment and community feel – it was a no brainer!
Given we moved during a challenging period (we had to initially isolate and then went into a couple of circuit breaker lockdowns), in reality we didn’t get to explore the Island for the first several months – however we soon discovered its wonderful charm, and given it’s only been 10 months since we really settled in – it’s testament to what’s on offer here.
How would you describe it to someone who has never been?
For a small Island, it has so much to give – I was surprised at how any great and varied places there are to eat and drink. There’s plenty of independent retailers, and eateries too, all offering very high-quality produce and service levels.
There’s an amazing outdoor offering as well – a real mix of stunning beaches, plantations, and historical and heritage sites right on your doorstep. There’s lots of places for the children to enjoy as well, including an abundance of parks, play zones and wildlife areas. Wherever you are, you’re pretty much overlooking greenery, but always close to a town, with a city vibe – the perfect blend.
How did you find a job on the Isle of Man?
I was a former client of Amber Gaming, so I knew the organisation very well, and had formed a great professional relationship with the team. I was aware of the gaming sector on the Island, its international reputation, and the high calibre of work that was on offer, alongside the heavy focus on compliance within the industry. So, when a job vacancy became available, I applied directly.
Tell us about your job – what do you enjoy most about it?
I love my job, although I’ve only been in position 12 months or so, I love the variety of challenges it presents. There is a much higher calibre of work and clientele here. Given the Island is an offshore environment, it presents a wider range of clientele, interesting and varied work and, on occasion, a different approach to work, especially within the risk area – so I’m learning and developing all the time.
There is a close-knit, professional community here, especially within the compliance profession. There are regular forums and events where we gather and share ideas, experiences, and industry trends – this community was not so well established in Gibraltar.
There is a real team ethos at Amber, which offers a work hard, play hard culture. As employees we are treated well and offered flexible working. Alongside plenty of social gatherings and team building days. The company get involved in many community and charity projects as well, and we hold regular sporting charity days, and have just entered a team into the Race the Sun charity event.
There’s also a great network of business sporting leagues on the Island, which is great for making new friends after relocating, there’s everything from football and cycling to netball!
Do you feel there is career opportunities for you on the Isle of Man?
In the 12 months I’ve been at Amber, the business has expanded two-fold, which has given me the opportunity to take ownership of other areas of the business.
In general, the Isle of Man has many opportunities for those considering or wanting to develop an existing career in compliance. There are many large employers here willing to invest in you.
Given the range of industries here, from banking and insurance, to gaming and CSP, the opportunities for compliance professionals are endless – with many moving across sectors, and even internally within the larger organisations – there is a real variety of roles within the profession, with plenty of training opportunities from graduate to senior level.
How was your experience moving to the Isle of Man?
It was pretty seamless – I was granted an exemption from the work permit process due to my profession, and this was extended to my wife and family. My wife found a new job just a month after we relocated, and she also works for a local gaming company.
What’s the best-kept secret on the Isle of Man?
The Isle of Man TT races and the de-restricted roads!
What opportunities has living on the Isle of Man given you and your family?
Many! We certainly have a better work-life balance and a far higher quality of life on the Isle of Man. It is more affluent here, with the local infrastructure, services and amenities being far superior and modern in comparison to Gibraltar’s.
I have more time to enjoy with my family, and so much more space to take pleasure in and explore when compared to the much smaller Gibraltar! A one hour walk here can be so varied.
Rental costs are far less here, because space is in less demand, and the education system is better too – there was a wide variety of nursery schools to choose from, and the higher standard of secondary education is certainly evident when you compare the Island to the UK league tables.