A graphic designer, innovator, marketer and recently turned entrepreneur, Gabrielle moved to the UK from Auckland about 8 years ago that just so happened to co -incide with the worldwide financial crisis. Luckily, with a few months up her sleeve, before the full effects of the crisis ricocheted across London, a job was secured. Not one to stay complacent, and realising the role was similar to the one Gabrielle left in Auckland, albeit on a larger scale, she took a gamble and quit to hunt for a role she really wanted.
"Thankfully it paid off and I spent 5 years with a great company within sports marketing that took me across the globe. To off beaten paths in China where I didn't see another foreigner for the entire duration, sampling food I had no idea what or where it came from, through to functions in Rio De Janeiro. Interestingly enough, at these functions I was often asked if I was the wife of my boss, in a world that is very male dominated."
This environment taught Gabrielle to grow a thick skin, and fast. Not always easy for sure, but London can be a cutthroat environment, and to a certain extent can be a case of sink or swim.
"This experience I see as invaluable as life will always throw you curveballs and it sets you up to be able to deal with it better. A moment that I look back and laugh on was within the first few weeks of arriving and I was at Borough Market – which is always heaving with people. I overheard a woman commenting on how hilarious it is that this woman over there is actually waiting for people to pass her. I of course was that woman. Since then my elbows have taken on a whole new dimension."
Two years ago, and not one to rest on her laurels, Gabrielle decided to disrupt her life entirely, handed in her notice and headed to a small village in Northern Thailand to work with an NGO - dedicated in the prevention of human trafficking and exploitation. Swapping the tube for a rickety bike, dodging snakes, a lot of hungry dogs and monks. Initially working as a volunteer and on her return to London, continued with this NGO as a freelance consultant on marketing campaigns to drive awareness and generate sustainable revenue.
"I worked for 9 months with this organsiation and it was an incredible experience to be actively giving back and making a difference. I am still in touch with some of the girls from the shelter and it is truly phenomenal to see the changes to their confidence levels and more importantly their belief that they can go on to have rewarding careers."
Since then Gabrielle has been working in freelance roles for agencies and launched a social business within the travel industry, that aims to generate profit to be distributed back into educational programmes globally. Her business Talking Pigeons, combines her passion for exploring, meeting new people and celebrating the diversity that is at our finger- tips. Combined with a strong belief that a company can, and should have a greater impact on humanity.
"I have had incredible experiences across the globe, by being fortunate to have known locals living there. So Talking Pigeons is all about opening up and sharing that knowledge. It's been a challenging journey, with a lot of lows and fantastic highs, as anyone knows when venturing into the unknown. I've had to wear many hats, which has been rewarding and at times also overwhelming. But more than that, I have learnt in the past 8 months more about myself than I ever would have if I hadn't decided to take this leap."
Gabrielle initially came to London for just 6 months, 8 years later and counting, it has been an adventurous journey like so many other Kiwi's, embracing the opportunities that London gives.
"I think being a kiwi has been a great advantage. Coming from a small country we often have to multi task in roles, and really innovate. We are a nation of doers, in other words we get s*** done."
To find out more about Gabrielle's business click here.
Talking Pigeons is a small, but ambitious community spreading their wings, so if you happen to know people that are passionate about the city they live in and would like to contribute then please get in touch with Gabrielle on firstname.lastname@example.org.