We seem to attract adventurers at Electrum. Either that, or we inspire adventure in our team members! We caught up with a few colleagues who recently visited far-off places, returning to the office inspired and enlightened.
We believe exploring new cultures, opening your eyes to new vistas, and taking on new challenges grow you into a more rounded and interesting person. And why wouldn’t we want more of those in the office? We quizzed some well-travelled Electrolytes who recently returned from adventures across the globe, asking them to share some of their highlights and learnings with us.
Karin Hunter, Acting CEO – India
“In November I travelled to Maharashtra, India to visit ex-colleagues who accidentally became friends while working together. All I did was book the tickets and share the dates with them – they took care of the rest.”
Karin went on hikes, visited historical sites, and even brought back some industry insights: “Scan-and-pay is considerably more prolific in India than in South Africa. The government encourages it by keeping the fees low.”
Besides leaving India with deeper friendships, she also came home with a long list of dishes she’d like to make. “We ate delicious food every three hours (and never the same thing twice!)”
Zayd Hendricks, Software Development Manager – Thailand
Zayd says that you usually spend your first week on holiday thinking about work. Instead, he recommends not giving yourself the chance to think – he booked a trip to Thailand for his wife and two kids, his parents, and eight other family members. “Trust me,” he says, “work gets forgotten real quick!”
When the chance to travel arose and Zayd didn’t have enough leave days, it didn’t hold him back. “Electrum is of the opinion that great opportunities like these don’t often come up,” he says. “The Electrum view: just take the damn leave!”
While he was in Thailand, he noticed how difficult it was to use a credit card. Cash was king, but drawing money attracted fees of R100. Even shopping with a card was tough, requiring a R250 minimum. Luckily money-changing offices were on almost every corner and offered good rates.
Elizabeth Kelly, Business Analyst – Hong Kong
“Of all the lifestyle differences in Hong Kong – high-rise buildings, mind-altering efficient public transport, dogs sitting in restaurant chairs, and a bank-account-bursting cost of living – the most striking was the population density and lack of space,” says Elizabeth.
While there, she made use of her Octopus card, a contactless stored-value card that can be used to pay for public transport, parking, toll gates, and shopping. She also noticed QR-based payment options with AliPay, WeChat Pay, and Apple Pay. “Once my internal currency converter had shut down, I walked the streets, rode on the public transport, and spent (all) my HK Dollars.”
Hong Kong is a land of extremes, and Elizabeth was also able to explore surprisingly tranquil peaks and beaches, away from the throngs. “I came away with new-found aspirations for minimalism and essentialism – value the things that bring you value and let everything else go!”
Patrick Colborne, Java Software Developer – USA
Between hipster coffee at NYC’s Ace Hotel (“I highly recommend”), Keurig Cup coffee on the road (“I’d rather take a spoonful of soil and mix it in hot water”), clam chowder, mulled cider, and Sam Adams New England IPA, Patrick also managed to see a few sights on his trip to the USA.
“I loved Boston,” he says. “It’s more relaxed than New York, less frenetic and boasts some impressive architecture.” The real highlight, though, was his two weeks in Lincoln, New Hampshire, bonding with family, and celebrating his sister’s full recovery from cancer. In this beautiful, forested setting, the whole family went skiing.
“After a long and busy holiday, it was wonderful to return home and gear up for 2020,” he says. “I was grateful to know that I was going back to a job I love.”
Rachel van Eyk, Marketing Manager – the Mozambique Channel
Rachel had only been at Electrum four months when she asked MD Dave Glass for leave to sail a catamaran from Madagascar to SA. “Are you telling me this to make me jealous?” asked Dave. The leave wasn’t a problem, and Rachel and her husband joined their friends in Nosey Be in early December.
The plan was to sail the channel and make a few stops along the Mozambique coast, but instead they decided to head to Richards Bay in one go. “We had the perfect weather window,” says Rachel, “and if we didn’t do it, we would’ve been stuck waiting out a hurricane that was brewing around Mauritius.” They still hit stormy seas, but made it to Richards Bay unscathed – just three hours ahead of the hurricane.
Key learnings for Rachel? “Electrum encourages life experiences and really does allow you to have a work-life balance,” she says. “Also, never make tomato sauce in a low pan during stormy weather at sea!”
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