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Interview With Damien O’Farrell, Expat Coach

Damien, you're an expat coach and you help people who want to move abroad. Tell us a bit more about your job and how you got into it.

I define myself as a Global Mobility Specialist and Expat Coach & Mentor and I combine both skillsets to provide a unique relocation experience to Italy. Combining the nuts and bolts of the importance of being compliant from an immigration and relocation point of view with focused coaching regarding life and professional development in Italy allows the expat to build the most successful life possible in Italy.As I am coming up on my 31st anniversary of living in Italy, I understand very well the challenges facing an expat who is relocating to Italy. Like many markets, Italy is also in disruption, so I understand very well that the formulas and strategies that worked several years ago in Italy, especially with regard to finding work or starting a business, may not work today, so, again, I home in on the skills that are needed to thrive in Italy in the 21st century.

Is there a typical kind of person who approaches you for help?

Yes, I work very often with individuals who would like to spend a sabbatical year in Italy immersing themselves in the rich culture of the country. In addition to this, given the bespoke nature of the services that I provide, I also work with C-suite executives who require a more personalized approach to their relocation to Italy.

I also mentor expats who have been running a business in Italy for several years. However, very often, they have reached a plateau and would like to shake things up and take things to the next level, in terms of redefining their ideal client avatar, as well as developing new products and services for the current market.

Are you an expat yourself? Where have you lived, and what prompted you to move abroad?

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Yes, I am. I am originally from Ireland, but I moved to Italy in 1988 after spending time in the US for a temporary job that I was offered. Even though I love Ireland and its people, I knew that I would probably live my life in another country due to the fact that I love other cultures and what makes them tick. In addition to this, in Italy, I found a very fertile market for many of the things that I wanted to do such as build a business and assist others to create meaningful lives here.

You've recently written on the topic of moving to Italy – can you briefly outline some of the things people need to consider if they're planning to move there?

First and foremost, will you be legal? Immigration has become a very hot topic lately in Italy, so when I do a Pre-Arrival Strategy Session with a client, I spend quite a bit of time walking them through the process of being immigration-compliant in Italy.

Also, Italy has a challenging job market, so you really need to understand the dynamics of focused networking within an Italian context and how this is vital to finding work.

Cost of living is also an issue that I focus on a lot – as salaries can be low in Italy, it’s important that you understand certain things before you move, so you can acclimatize yourself as best as possible.

Talk to us about your VIP Mobility Essentials: who is this aimed at, and what does it offer?

VIP Mobility Essentials – The ICONIC Programs is a bespoke line of destination and immigration services aimed at top talent and other high-performing professionals relocating to Italy. These are delivered through my team of Global Mobility Specialists, but with a major difference – each team member has the time, knowledge, and resources to be essentially a top-notch Personal Assistant, where almost every request the client has can be satisfied.

These programs are not for everyone – they are tailor-made solutions for the top talent of leading companies, entrepreneurs, and other VIP clients that want to walk the red carpet of Global Mobility in terms of service, approach, and client commitment.

In your experience, what are some of the most common challenges for people moving abroad, and how can these be addressed?

Ideally, individuals moving abroad need to do a trial run, if possible. Very often, the reality does not correspond to the expectations that the person had, and this can often lead to frustration and regret. Just like location is everything in real estate, planning is essential when moving abroad, especially for a permanent move.

Pre-move preparation through language acquisition and coaching are also extremely helpful in preparing the individual and / or family for a successful relocation.

I also work closely with HR in assisting them to prepare their colleagues for a move to Italy – the more knowledge they acquire before the relocation, the easier things normally go.

Finally, when you're not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

When I am not working, I love to read and take longs walks around Rome, which even after all these years, still manages to take my breath away!

You can find out more about Damien O’Farrell and the services that he provides at www.damienofarrell.com.

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