Nic La Merle, South AfricaNic is a full stack developer from Durban South Africa. Nic was part of the team who opened Derivco’s first international office. Only planning to stay 2 years, 10 years later he can't imagineliving anywhere else.
Where were you originally from and how long have you lived on the Isle of Man?
I am originally from Durban, South Africa and I have lived on the Isle of Man for 9 years.
What made you move here?
I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to move to the Isle of Man with several other colleagues to open Derivco’s first international office. It was an exciting adventure that I was able to take on with friends and colleagues. The outdoors, proximity to the rest of Europe for travel and the challenge of meeting new people was a massive draw card.
How would you describe it to someone who has never been?
When I first moved over I would joke with my friends back home and compare it to where “Postman Pat” lived. Fast forward a little and I would describe it as a small island with a big community. It’s extremely safe, has lots of greenery, and it offers young professionals like myself an opportunity to grow my business whilst still enjoying a great work life balance.
Tell us about your career now?
Together with my wife, I now run my own business Afundi which focuses on the delivery of bespoke software, websites, and brands. My day to day duties within the company include leading website and software development and focusing on the strategic direction for the business. We work with a variety of industries including eGaming, fintech, recruitment, start-ups, finance and CSP’s so no two days or projects are the same.
What do you enjoy most about working in the digital sector?
It’s constantly evolving. I love that we always have to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies. Challenging ourselves and our clients is at the heart of what we do.
Do you feel there is career progression for individuals in the digital sector in the Isle of Man?
I think the industry has a long way to go. We have found it difficult to recruit and find individuals who are looking to develop their careers on the Island long term. There are some truly awesome companies on the Island and I have no doubt that we could grow and develop some incredible talent. We just need to attract the right people. Once those people are here it will be down to the private and public sector to ensure there are opportunities for career progression and that we create a thriving digital & tech community.
How was your experience moving to the Isle of Man? (Applying for a work permit, immigration, gaining a visa)
I was lucky enough to be with an employer who managed the entire process for me through relocation agents. The support we all received from both the relocation agents and the people at the various departments meant that the entire experience was straightforward and done in a really good time.
What difference has living on the Isle of Man made to your work-life balance?
In the Summer months especially, I love getting home from work and still having around 3 hours of sunlight allowing me to get in a good cycle and still have enough time to have a Braai (BBQ) afterwards. I genuinely didn't appreciate Summer until I moved here.
How do you spend your free time?
I love being outdoors, especially cycling and the Isle of Man really does cater for cyclists. Within a few minutes drive you can be in the forest mountain biking or you can hop on your road bike and explore many of the challenging routes across the Island.
If you were planning a weekend to introduce a new team member to the Isle of Man where would you take them?
We live down South so we would probably be a little biased and show off the South of the Island. That would likely include a walk or cycle in one of the plantations, a day out on Port Erin beach, coffee from Noa at the Cozy Nook, sundowners at Foraging Vintners, pizza at Secret Pizza company and a late night cocktail at The Bling Badger.
What surprised you about living in the Isle of Man?
How safe it was and how many South Africans call the Island home. Having a strong network of South Africans has allowed us to develop a strong support base both professionally and personally. It certainly does not harm to have a few Springbok rugby supporters on hand when we play England!
Did you have any preconceived ideas and how has that differed?
I thought I may get bored living on a small island. In fact the plan was to only be here for 2 years but after the first year I quickly realised just how much there is to do especially outdoors and my quality of life has certainly improved living here.
What opportunities has living on the Isle of Man given you / your family?
Being able to travel (pre Covid of course) was something we used to value most about living on the Island. However in recent years we have realised how important it is to be living somewhere safe, somewhere where there is a real sense of community and a place that we know our children will enjoy.
Why would you recommend the Isle of Man to others looking to relocate and what would be your top tips?
The Isle of Man is a great place to live but more importantly to work and in particular start a business. I have found that the business start up community on the Island is really growing and there is a lot of support not only from the Government but other groups who are keen to see the entrepreneurial spirit grow and flourish. My tips for anyone thinking of coming over would be to do a lot of research and to align yourself with like minded people. It is important to embrace every opportunity and to get involved whether that be in a social capacity or even networking events.