Feb 18, 2020

Expectations vs. Reality: An Inspiring Story of Relocating to New York City from Sydney

Tilly Hemperger
Senior Marketing Account Manager

Tilly Hemperger, senior destination manager of Canada East, is based in our office in New York City. Get inspired by this Australian's story of how following her dream to live in North America landed her a dream career in travel and tourism in the Big Apple.


Can you tell us about yourself and how you moved from Sydney to the New York office?

Originally from the best city in the land down under, Sydney, I joined GetYourGuide in the Sydney office as the first hire in Australia. Initially, I managed roughly half the country: South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and half of New Zealand's North Island. By my second year, I stepped up to manage both the North and South Islands. Then, my amazing Aussie colleagues joined our little local office in Sydney to provide support to our Australian supply partners.

Towards the end of my second year there, I decided to make a significant life change and relocate to Canada. I'd studied abroad there during my university days and wanted to re-immerse myself in the Québécois culture of Montreal. GetYourGuide didn't have an office in Canada, so I mistakenly believed my only option was to find another job.

Fortunately, the then regional manager in New York City reached out and asked me, "Tilly, why are you leaving GetYourGuide? Did you know we manage Canada from the New York office?" She offered me the incredible opportunity to join the New York team and take on the region of Canada East. I thought, Let me think about that. Live in the Big Apple, get to meet amazing Canadian supply partners, and test out exciting activities in Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Winnipeg. Surely, you can guess my answer.

What were your first few weeks like at the NY office?

I really hit the ground running. I had the benefit of two years in our sales team, so my onboarding was already complete. One of my favorite colleagues, Philip Ferentinos, senior destination manager of North East USA, a total GetYourGuide sales legend here in North America, had been managing the vast region of both USA East and Canada. Philip bequeathed me with the large territory of Canada East so he could focus on his destinations in the USA, including travel gems like Chicago and New Orleans.

By day ten of arriving in the New York office, I was en route to Toronto and Niagara Falls to meet with our supply partners there. The highlights of the trip were being among the first people to test out the Hornblower Niagara Cruises’ brand new Funicular months before it was launched to the public, and of course, touching the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

What were you worried about before moving? What’s it like to live in NYC?

Like most people moving to New York, I was worried about strangers being rude and impatient, like, Hey, I'm walkin' here!' and, of course, hunting for an apartment. After visiting dozens of flats, a friend of a friend kindly connected me with my current roommates in Brooklyn, and I'm pretty happy here. In retrospect, I feel fortunate that as a newcomer in the city, I was automatically connected to a network of friendly faces at the office. So whether the stereotypes about New York are true or not, I was able to find my place here with a little bit of patience.

And how about your expectations with work?

I was joining a bigger team in New York. It’s three times bigger than my team was in Sydney. I thought, in any company, it's easier to get distracted when there are more people. A larger team could mean unfriendly competition and more personalities to learn. Before starting, there was definitely a self-imposed pressure to get up to speed on my new destinations as soon as possible and wow our local suppliers with results.

It turns out having more teammates meant having more experiences to tap into. Everyone here was super supportive and helped me get up to speed. It’s a great environment as we celebrate each other's wins. I delight in the all for one, one for all mentality we have here. My colleagues have different backgrounds and bring in totally fresh new perspectives. With our dynamic set of skills, there's rarely a problem we can't solve together.

What's it like at the New York office at the moment?

There's a buzz. My team is energetic and hugely supportive. It's a pleasure to walk in the office every day and work with such a passionate and talented group of individuals. When we hit our goals, we have a bell, like in the stock exchange, that we ring, and everyone wants to hear the good news. It always puts a smile on my face.

This year, the New York office is transitioning from being sales-only to welcoming local representation of other teams from HQ. If you're interested in joining my fantastic team here in New York, check out our openings.

Do you have any tips for someone moving to NYC? Or do you have any advice for someone who is looking to move to New York for GetYourGuide?

There’s this great quote from Nathan W Pyle that goes, “Everyone has to make a few adjustments to unique New York”.  I would recommend to join a ton of Facebook groups with people whom you have things in common with, and make it industry specific, I joined an Australians in New York group for example. Build up your contacts and your network. There are lots of resources online that organize regular events in real life.

You’ll have to be proactive and yes it will take time. Many things that you encounter in your home town is just magnified in NYC, don’t be afraid. Like moving anywhere in the world, allow yourself 3 to 6 months to acclimate.

New York is like no other city in the world. You'll spend your weekdays working alongside a killer team in a fast-paced, data-driven startup. You'll connect with colleagues from all over the world. Best of all, you'll be at the forefront of a dynamic industry that's undergoing a crazy amount of change. When you're done for the day, there is no end to what you can explore in New York and surroundings.

Moving here was easily one of the best decisions I had ever made. I wish I could take all the credit for my move, but really, it was our outstanding leadership team who believed in me and made it possible. I aspired to live abroad, and I've managed to far exceed this by ending with a strategic leap into the New York office.

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