If you needed someone to sell South Australia as a prime living destination, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone better suited than Ian Darbyshire to do it for you.
After asking the former UK expatriate and current CEO of Rundle Mall what aspects of South Australia he enjoys most, it quickly becomes apparent the better question would be is there anything about the state that that he doesn’t enjoy.
‘The city is easy to get around, the people are very friendly, the food and wine is great, and the education is fantastic,’ he says enthusiastically as we sit in his James Place office right next to the thriving retail precinct he is now in charge of.
‘Personally, I wish I’d come 20 years earlier. I’ve just found opportunity after opportunity since moving here.’
Ian migrated to Adelaide with his family in 2007 after establishing a successful career in the UK as a managing director and chief executive for a number of large companies. However his love of Australia was kindled long before that, having been captivated by the warm climate and laidback lifestyle some fifteen years earlier whilst travelling with his family on a working holiday.
‘My wife, two children and I actually came back from the trip a little bit unsettled,’ he admits.
‘We just couldn’t help but think, “That was fantastic, I think we might have to go and live there one day.”
The demanding nature of Ian’s career meant it would be another seven years before the Darbyshire family would act upon the impulse, both him and wife Jacqui deciding the best gift they could give their children would be the space and opportunity afforded by the Australian lifestyle.
After making several more trips down under to ensure their decision was the right one, the family eventually came over on a Temporary Business Visa. Despite Ian having officially retired from full-time work to concentrate on investing, it wasn’t long before his business skills were recognised by real estate agency Toop and Toop, who happened to be helping the family find a house at the time, and were able to successfully tempt him out of early retirement by offering him the position of company CEO.
From there, Ian’s considerable experience was sought to head up the South Australian Tourism Commission and later Rundle Mall as both organisations underwent intense periods of change – the SATC in the employment of a new marketing strategy, and Rundle Mall during their $30 million redevelopment. In both instances, he credited the amount of research he had conducted into South Australia whilst undergoing the migration process to have been of substantial benefit.
‘A lot of people used to ask Jacqui and I how we knew so much about the state, and joke about how we seemed to know more than the people who had lived here their entire lives,’ he said.
‘I guess it was just because we did so much homework when deciding where to come and spend the rest of our lives that you come to know the history, the geography and hopefully understand the people.’
Having settled into Australia better than they could have ever hoped, the final step was to seek permanent residency and eventually citizenship – a goal which brought them into contact with Migration Solutions for the first time.
‘Getting permanent residency was quite a complicated process, there’s a lot of documentation you need to compile. We really did need help to do that.’
‘You really need to understand the intricacies of what the Immigration Department are looking for, and Migration Solutions certainly helped us immensely.’
After successfully receiving a permanent Sponsored Investor Visa and coming up to the seven-year anniversary of their migration, it’s clear Ian’s passion for his new home hasn’t been dampened one bit over time.
‘We’ve travelled an awful lot, been all over the world nearly, but we just think Adelaide offers such a fantastic lifestyle,’ he said.
‘When you come from living in London, and you look around and see this amazingly easy to get around city, with very friendly people, great beaches, good food, good wine, blue skies and plenty of fresh air…you can’t help but think; “Why anyone wouldn’t want to move here?”