Joanne Thurlow, CanadaJoanne Thurlow, originally from Halifax, Canada, relocated during the pandemic in 2021. Joanne has an impressive digital career and now chooses to work remotely from the Isle of Man.
Tell us a little about your background, where were you born and brought up?
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in my 20s and then moved to UK in my 40s.
How long have you lived on the Isle of Man and what attracted you to move here?
Arrived in Jan 2021. By getting agreement to work remotely from my management, we were able to move here 8 years sooner than originally planned. There were contributing factors to making the move at this time – COVID, wanting to be closer to family in the UK and I especially needed more balance in my life in an environment where I knew I would feel ‘at peace’ or relaxed.
I Came to my first TT races in 2008 and like most people, fell in love with the island. We would always camp in Peel. The first time we sailed into Douglas I was moved to tears – it felt like coming home – so beautiful!
My husband and I talked of moving here when I retired – over the next 6 years we came to the island for TT races, as well as other times during the year to experience the pace of life outside TT. One of our most How would you describe it to someone who has never been?
Magical, intoxicating, beautiful, refreshing, peaceful, warm and inviting – if you come here once, be prepared to fall in love with the island, its way of life and its people.
Tell us about your work – You have an impressive career …
I have over 30+ years working in tech itself – I have worked in many positions, companies, and countries. The best part of my work is the variety of issues and challenges – it is never the same. Being able to work with people around the work, many different cultures on a daily basis is brilliant!
How does the Isle of Man fit in with such a high flying career?
I don’t think of my career as high flying – it’s what I do. It isn’t until I step out and look at it that I realize I am working at a level and capacity that is high level.
When I started considering moving here sooner than when I retired, I was surprised by the level of tech industry and engineering on the island – I never knew there was that much happening here! A well hidden secret.
For me – as my company is not located on the island and I work remotely – the island’s infrastructure enables me to connect with anyone, anywhere – so borders are irrelevant
So it’s not so much about my job as such, but more about how my job and experience could benefit the island. I knew before coming here, how magical IOM is and that I would get some many benefits from being here on a personal level. It is important to me to give back to the island. For the island to benefit is some way from my being here – it is my way of saying ‘thank you’ the island and its people for being so welcoming!
I have been very welcomed onto the island and invited to contribute through the Digital IOM board and LOVE TECH as a start. I am completely honoured to be doing so.
What does remote working look like for you? Do you feel the world has changed regarding the perception of remote working?
Remote working for me hasn’t been a big adjustment as I am used to working from and with many locations globally. That part has been easy to expand. What is more challenging in being remote not having the ability to meet my team a few times during the week for in person meetings. I will be glad when I can travel again to do so.
My work days start early and tend to go late. I spend a great deal of time in front of the computer, and need to take breaks – sometimes this includes a short walk outdoors to get fresh air.
It is challenging as I am a very sociable person, so the lack of human contact outside of my husband takes its toll.
Perceptions have indeed changed in remote working. It is unfortunate that it took the pandemic to shift the global thinking into embracing remote working as truly valid. It is important that there is a balance. All remote working, such I am doing, can be draining on a personal and physical level – it needs balance. Which the island offers through the natural environment, the people and the many networking events.
As a business partner to my business, it is imperative I be close to what is happening in the business at all times. My business is very diverse. Often it is the impromptu meetings (such as around the water cooler as the expression goes) that provides insights you might not get otherwise. When remote working you need to find ways to compensate for that.
What makes the Isle of Man different
- The people and their openness, expectation of balance,
- There are many talented, successful people on the island – yet everyone is generally approachable, unassuming, friendly…
- It is unassuming place, yet there is so much happening!
- It really offers so much and the standard of life, happiness levels of individuals, outstanding…
Do you believe in work life balance? What does your week look like today? How does this differ from places you have lived in the past?
I believe in work life balance, but historically am very poor at achieving it consistently! This is one of the main drivers for me in coming to IOM earlier than planned. The beauty and magic of the glens, coastal hikes, waterfalls, sea. These would draw me out from behind my computer to get into nature more. And it is so close – just go out your front door.
I love exploring the island. The hikes can be really challenging!
My meetings are often scheduled to accommodate multiple time zones at once. It is not unusual to be on a call with the US, Europe, Asia and India at the same time. Hence my meetings can happen early to late.
Now that I am here, I am finding reasons to structure and limit my time more so I can balance those time demands, although there will always be a need to flex for the time zones.
On weekends, I try to go for hikes – ideally along the Way of the Gull. My hikes average 10-12k and recently did a 19K hike. The hikes can be really challenging as I work on my fitness levels that have suffered from too much work and not enough play over the last few years.
What do you like to do in your time off?
I am working on a ‘side hustle’ that I plan to make my main hustle in a few more years – my daughter in Canada is now helping me get it up and going – again the remote connections make this possible in part.
The side hustle is focused on public speaking, consulting, writing – with focus on Women in tech issues, and sustainability – a bit of the ‘vocation being my vacation’.
How was your experience moving to the Isle of Man?
Overall it has been good but with its challenges. I started on line networking which put me in contact with Lyle Wraxall Digital IOM. He was incredibly helpful with suggestions for names etc. I was really surprised by the amount of digital industry on the island.
As plans became more concrete, Locate IOM came into play and were also incredibly helpful!
Despite all the hard work and time, every day we comment on the beauty, how happy we are, one of the best decisions we have or similar.
What’s the best-kept secret on the Isle of Man?
I was really surprised at how much industry – digital or otherwise – is here, and much of it global. I knew about the financial and eGaming but there so much more here!
What opportunities has living on the Isle of Man given you /your family?
As I mentioned before, the Digital IOM Board position is exciting for me! A new level of achievement and opportunity to help inform strategy in building the Digital industry - for a country! That is a big thing to say!
I am also apart of LOVE TECH – a volunteer group of exceptionally bright, energetic and accomplished women. Again, an honour being a part of this!
I also have more work life balance and contentment. My husband has some medical issues and the support and quality of the medical staff here is world class as well.
What are your plans for the future?
As previously mentioned, I have a side hustle that I plan to make a main hustle. To grow this business into a global one – run virtually from the island. This includes the speaking, publishing books, developing my online presence and channels
I want to keep inspiring girls/women into tech!
I also want to do more hikes in other countries – such a Tour Mont Blanc or Camino de Santiago.