Introducing Alison from Where Can I Live…
Who is Alison?
I am one of those people who finds it hard to answer the question “where do you come from?” I was born in Zimbabwe but spent equal time there as well as in South Africa, England and Australia. That’s why it seems normal for me to always be looking for the next exciting adventure … and that brings us to the now in Spain. We have a 10 year old son Sam and live in a small beach town just south of Barcelona. Our weekends are spent mostly in the water in summer and on the slopes in winter.
What do you do?
Having spent 25 years working in IT, mostly in investment banking, I chucked it all in 3 and a half years ago to take a sabbatical in Europe with my family. After a year of relaxation, travel and plenty of me time, I suddenly remembered who I was and what was important to me. My husband and I decided that it was time for a career change.
I co-founded www.wherecani.live. The idea came to me after Brexit. Being on a British passport, I was concerned about whether we would be allowed to stay in Spain. A friend on a train said “you wouldn’t have Irish grandparents would you? Because then you can get an Irish passport!” What a happy surprise that was to me! I wondered whether there was other immigration related information that people simply had no clue about and whether we could make it easier for them to find it.
We have created a database of thousands of immigration rules and developed clever tools to help people search immigration information easily. We also now have a network of immigration lawyers that can help our clients to take the next step to a new life.
Why is this work important to you?
It was important to me to be helping people and delivering something useful for them. The feedback we get has made it all worthwhile. Some people say that they had no idea about the visas and passports they could get until they used our site – hearing that makes my day! I also love working in a small company where things can happen quickly.
What are you most enjoying in life right now?
The work/life balance is just perfect. I really do enjoy working but I have the tendency to work WAY too much. Now, I have more flexibility to work when I want to. I spend a lot of time with my family, we travel lots and I have my friendship/me time in there too.
Why is confidence important to you?
I struggled from a lack of confidence as a child and my early 20’s. It seriously hampered my growth and my happiness. Although I had other constant critics in my life, I was my own worst critic.
The one thing I did have however was a drive to do well in my career
It came from growing up in a family that really had to watch every penny. And so, after university I started working long and hard to make something of myself. And to my surprise it worked! This was the biggest boost to my confidence – knowing that if you put effort and time into something you CAN make almost anything happen!
Do you ever experience self-doubt and how do you move past it?
The downside of having your own business is that you do not have the support structure of a large company and there is no-one giving you feedback. Some days I do wonder – is this what people want? Am I making a difference? I usually pop down to my husband’s office and walk him through my thoughts. I am lucky to have my biggest supporter working in the same house as me. He usually makes me see sense. And then when we get that email or comment from someone thanking us for our website and telling us their story and I think – yes!
What is a hurdle in your life that you have overcome?
Back in my investment banking days, even though I was a director, I would often struggle to assert myself when dealing with very senior people such as the COO or CIO. I would come out of meetings wishing I had said more than I had. I was assigned a coach and he helped me approach these situations with more structure and assertiveness and then the confidence just grew from there.
What does living life confidently mean to you?
It means believing in your intuition, assertively making decisions in life and taking steps forward. Believing that you deserve the good things that are happening to you.
To connect with Alison, or to learn more about her work connecting people with information to answer ‘Where Can I Live?’ you can find her: