After a well-planned ‘reconnaissance’ trip to Victoria in 2002, German-born IT professional, Michael Hoffmann, and his wife, Dorothy, decided to pack up their home in Denver, Colorado and start a new life in Melbourne.
‘We weren’t all that happy in Denver. It was difficult socially and we couldn’t see ourselves living there permanently,’ said Michael who moved to the US from Germany in the early 1990s to advance his IT career and then met fellow IT professional and corporate trainer, Dorothy Nuess.
‘But our decision to leave the US was also triggered by the aftermath of 9/11 and the Iraq War. It just didn’t feel like a good place to be any more.’
Michael said the only country he seriously considered moving to was Australia. ‘I took a three-month trip backpacking through Australia in 1987 and decided straight away I’d like to live here some time.’
When he suggested the idea to Dorothy she was initially apprehensive about living so far away from family and friends, but suggested a three-week reconnaissance trip to Melbourne to see if she would like living and working there.
The couple first arrived in Melbourne in November 2002 and Dorothy said she was captivated straight away. ‘It’s a very cosmopolitan city and we loved being able to walk to places for dinner and catch public transport easily.’
Michael was also impressed. ‘Melbourne has a very strong European flair and a great café culture so it reminded me a lot of London or Munich.’
During their first trip the couple worked hard to make connections and find out as much as possible about the city. They set up interviews with prospective employers, and Michael met with the Australian Computer Society to find out more about the local IT job market.
Once back in Denver, they tracked down a migration agent on the internet and started the formal process of applying for a skilled migration visa. Due to Michael’s skills in information security and his age (he is a year younger than Dorothy), they agreed he should be the primary applicant, which meant a few more points under Australia’s skills-based migration scheme.
They also applied for sponsorship from the Victorian Government, which gave them priority processing. ‘We got our approval in less than three months. We were sort of shell-shocked,’ said Michael.
In August 2004 Michael moved to Melbourne and initially stayed with friends in the city’s eastern suburb of Oakleigh before renting a house in nearby Glen Waverley.
Dorothy arrived a month later with the couple’s two dogs and two cats, who spent a month in quarantine. ‘They are really family members so there was never any question of leaving them behind,’ she said.
While still in the US, Michael posted his curriculum vitae on the Australian job search website, Seek, and was contacted by a Melbourne-based recruiting agency looking for information security professionals.
Soon after arriving he accepted a position with consulting firm Ernst & Young in their information security and risk assessment team but later took up a position with the Nurses Board of Victoria as their Chief Information Officer.
In less than two years Michael and his team completely upgraded the Board’s ageing IT infrastructure, including all of its hardware and operating systems as well as its back-up planning, internet infrastructure, internal networking and support contract.
Michael is now a Senior Managing Consultant with IBM and remains working in the IT security space.
Dorothy also found work easily. After initially setting up her own business in corporate training, she later accepted a position as a client relationship manager with Deakin Prime, the corporate training arm of Melbourne’s Deakin University. Dorothy has since moved on and now works as a Project Management Consultant for UXC – an IT service provider to over 2,500 customer organisations in the private and public sectors across Australasia.
Another important priority for Michael and Dorothy was finding the right place to live. After a long search they came across Springthorpe, a development in Melbourne’s northern suburbs which is only 14 km from the city centre.
‘It’s a great location,’ said Dorothy. ‘It used to be a former hospital site so the grounds were landscaped with a long-term plan and they’ve kept as many of the old trees as possible.’ The couple bought a block of land and then chose a plan for a modern, two-story home, with three bedrooms.
One of the things Dorothy likes most about Victoria is the mild weather, which is perfect for gardening. ‘Melbourne’s climate is gardening heaven. I’ve got stuff going crazy in my vegetable garden. It’s wonderful.’
The couple also likes to explore Victoria’s wineries. ‘We’re very much into wines so we’ve done several day-trips to the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley,’ said Michael.
Now proud to call Melbourne home, Michael and Dorothy recently took out Australian citizenship. ‘It’s a logical step in terms of participating in a country and a society,’ said Michael.