From Studying Fitness to his Dream Job in Finland…Damian Watson’s Journey in the Health & Fitness Industry.
There are so many exciting opportunities for our fitness students and graduates, some of these fall outside traditional Fitness Coaching and Training positions.
Certificate III and IV in Fitness Graduate, Damian, has recently secured a role as the Export Sales Manager for Fenola, a Finnish company that specialises in sourcing health-promoting natural super food ingredients from the Arctic region’s raw materials, berries, plants and herbs.
career move you might not expect from an Onfit Graduate, we asked Damian some questions to learn more about how he got this position and what advice he had for our students and graduates that may want to look outside becoming a fitness or personal trainer.
Get to Know Damian…
Tell us about your new position and what Fenola is?
Just last month I started in the role as Export Sales Manager with Fenola, based in Seinajoki, Finland which is about 400km north of Helsinki. We source raw, natural ingredients from the Nordic/Arctic regions and sell the extracts as ingredients for Nutraceutical, Cosmetic and Food & Beverage companies. The short and intensely light growing season and extremely harsh winters in the Nordic region provides the raw materials with super potent bioactive compounds that have many positive impacts on health and wellbeing.
The main extracts we produce are from Berries, Mushrooms, Pine Bark and Herbs. Visit the Fenola website for information about our products.
My role is to sell to international markets and grow our international client base and revenues. I knew this is where I belonged from my very first morning on the job when we sat down as a team and discussed Fenola’s wholesome values and lofty vision. Being surrounded by intelligent, ambitious and dedicated colleagues gives me confidence that the young company is destined for a great future.
How did you find the position?
I wasn’t actually looking for a role at the time. I moved to Finland a year and a half ago and live in a rural area where there are few, if any, English-speaking jobs. So in the initial stages of my time here I was working on my two small business (I have a small voiceover business Silky Smooth Voice Overs and am also creating a smartphone app that helps people to find and share the best places in the world to meditate – Mspot).
My girlfriend is a recruiter and one day she sent me a position description that she wanted me to proof read for a colleague of hers who was recruiting an English-speaking role that happened to be in our area. With each line of the description that I read I just felt more and more like this job had my name written all over it and I felt like I just had to apply for it. It felt a little bit like it was my fate so I applied, went through the process and ended up being successful.
What previous experience did you have?
I say the role had my name written all over it as I have a background in sales and marketing, both in Australia and overseas, and have a passion for health and wellbeing. My background is predominantly in sales and marketing, with a specialised focus on sponsorship, covering a number of industries such as sports, events, insurance and local government. In sports I’ve worked with Brisbane Lions, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, The Formula One Grand Prix and also spent some time with IMG golf events in the UK helping them run the world Matchplay Championship and the Women’s British Open.
How do you think the Cert III and IV in Fitness helped you?
Whilst it wasn’t the first qualification that the employer was looking for the qualification definitely adds another ‘string to your bow’, and in my case, it was looked favorably upon because part of my role is influencing nutrition and supplement companies to use our organic, short-travelled and super potent ingredients in their formulas. While our R&D and Production team are all PHD biochemists and I’m nowhere near their level, the nutrition module definitely gave me a head start with understanding the more technical parts of the job. I think the qualification is also looked upon favourably because as a personal trainer you need to be good at interacting with other people and bringing the best out of them and those skills translate across many industries.
What made you want to study the Cert III and IV in Fitness?
I was always very interested in sports, health and fitness. I remember writing my first fitness program for myself when I was about 10 years old. When I was 11 a friend of mine qualified for an inter-school cross-country running event and I remember training him to help him perform at his best. I guess it is something that I just had an affinity for from a young age.
I grew up playing football, cricket, tennis and waterskiing and as I got older I started to focus more on cycling, gym, boxing and swimming. I love setting challenges for myself and also cycled the entire Tour de France route to raise funds and awareness for an Australian charity in 2009 and cycled coast-to-coast across America in 2005. I’m happiest when I’m active and enjoy helping others to feel their best through physical activity.
In my later years of high school I wanted to be a personal trainer but was encouraged by people I looked up to and also family members to take a different path and ended up putting the idea to the side and not acting on it. Over the years I was increasingly disappointed with myself for not following the path I was most passionate about and letting myself be dissuaded from doing something I really wanted to do. I had remained interested in sports, health and fitness and in between chronic injuries that have prevented me from training I would complete my own fitness programs and occasionally train friends and family members for fun. So it wasn’t until recently that I decided I just had to complete the course for my own satisfaction or I’d regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t do it. The plan was to complete the qualification and work in a gym while I was setting up my meditation app and voiceover business (thereby combining all of the things that make me the happiest)…..… but that was when I met my Finnish girlfriend and eventually decided to move to Finland. And, that it was led me to a dream job with Fenola.
What advice would you have for people that want to follow a similar career path to you?
Define what you’re doing and why and make sure that it really means something to you.
Be adaptable – I never thought I would meet a Finish girl and live in the Finnish countryside but now, as a result, that’s given me the opportunity to work for an exciting Finnish company in a field that I’m passionate about.
Once you’ve ascertained all those important things the final ingredient is to work as hard as you can to achieve your goals.
And, to the people who think they’re too old to contemplate a career in health and fitness: I didn’t complete my course until I was 37 years old and have found it beneficial already so I don’t think you should ever use age as an excuse.
We think Damian’s advice is spot on – it’s never too late to work towards your goals if it’s something you are passionate about!
We’d like to wish Damian the best of luck with his future career at Fenola and look forward to hearing great things about