Creative Industry - Ian Taylor

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Interviewee - Ian Taylor

lover of travelling and hiking and CEO of
Ian Taylor Trekking

Ian Taylor is the owner and CEO of Ian Taylor Trekking, a travel company that specialises in hikes and climbs in far-flung places like Nepal, Tanzania, and Peru. He also speaks internationally about his expeditions and is an ambassador for the Fields of Life charity, which collaborates with rural East African communities to make quality education, clean water and healthcare more easily accessible.

He didn’t always intend to be an entrepreneur. Before he made the decision to follow his creative passion and travel the world while helping others do the same, he was an Assistant General Manager of a team of 150 at Europe’s largest leisure facility.

So how did he make the switch from his corporate job to Everest climber? We asked him a few questions to find out.

5 minutes with our career change expert: tips and advice

  • Question: When did you first realise that you wanted to make a career change and how did you get started?

  • Answer: After travelling for nine months I realised there was so much more to life than where I grew up, but the reality of life is that we need money to live, survive and develop ideas and freedom to explore.

    As I needed a job, I started working as an operations manager and was promoted to Assistant General Manager by the time I was 25. During this time I was always thinking about travelling, although I had no idea I would be doing what I am now. I just knew I needed to make a change. Four years into this job, my friend and I were in Peru and had a conversation about climbing Mount Everest. I instinctively knew that this was something that would help me take the next steps toward my goal, although I still wasn’t exactly sure what that goal was.

    People were telling us we couldn’t do it and even our guide cancelled our climb two months before we were due to fly to Nepal. My job was also very reluctant to give me the two and half months off that I needed for the climb.

    Long story short, we did climb Everest, and in doing so were able to raise $US100,000 to build the Mt. Everest Primary school in Uganda. I also started looking at leading hikes and bringing people out on climbs, and I was getting a lot of people interested in joining me.

    Ten months after the climb I was made redundant, and although I had already been working toward setting up my own travel company, I was forced to actually move forward with it.

  • Question: What was the biggest challenge involved in making your career switch?

  • Answer: Although I did have a wide range of skills, I still needed to re-educate myself over a two year period to make this dream a reality. I also took on a couple of business start-ups, managed a business turn around project and used the money to move my own business forward.

    From the time I was made redundant it took me two years of hard work to get my own business up and running and I had to work two jobs to make it work.

    The biggest challenge was having no money. I had just gone into debt to climb Everest, lost my job and moved back in with my parents. This was just after I had turned 30, and climbing Everest was starting to look like a really bad thing.

    I had to take unemployment benefits for months. Things were looking bleak. I had to remind myself that I’d put in a lot of work to setting up my own business, but had no money.

    I started offering out business development services and got some work. I was still working on the website, marketing, guiding techniques and developing my skill set. During this time I also took on a two-year business management project that paid well and gave me the chance to develop and pay for my own business start-up.

  • Question: What have been the biggest benefits of making this career change so far?

  • Answer: While I was in the transition of living with my parents and out of work, my girlfriend, and now wife, stood by my side. Laura is from Lawrence, Kansas and after eight years of living in Ireland she wanted to move closer to her family.

    So after getting the business up and running, we moved to Colorado to further develop the business, which gave me the opportunity to live at altitude in the mountains. I can now pick and choose my schedule, and be going skiing in 45 minutes. In short, I have full control over my future.

    Of course, it’s not always easy. Some months we make no money, but we are slowly growing and developing a quality service on all our treks as well as unique and proper acclimatisation programs for our clients.

    I have a great work/life balance and I’m more interested in what I do. I do get paid a little more than before, but that’s only since last year. I had a couple of rough years financially, but the switch has definitely been very worthwhile.

    I get to lead treks and trips around the world, speak internationally about my journey, own a company in Nepal and have partnered with another company in Africa. I’m also an ambassador for the charity that we raised the money for to build the Mt. Everest Primary School.