Rising Tide Blog

A Week in Cebu with Rising Tide

Posted by Matt Hale

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“Culture is the widening of the mind and the spirit.”

– Jawaharlal Nehru

The kids are in bed. I kiss Annie goodbye and head out of the house with my suitcase in tow. In yesteryear, international travel was so typical. Now it’s back to being a privilege – and with that comes some unexpected nerves.

Passport – tick!
Philippines entry card – tick!
Trashy Australian souvenirs – tick!

I’m good to go.

At the airport awaiting my flight to the Philippines, I down a few dumplings and enjoy a quiet beer as I clear my inbox.

Before I know it, I’m back in the air, headed out into the big, wide world again.

This trip, which included Rising Tide’s inaugural ‘RTiculation’ Conference, came about quickly after our Cebu, Philippines-based award-winning Lending Delivery Team Leader Kate and her partner Angelo planned their wedding and invited the whole Rising Tide team.

After some discussion with my Rising Tide Co-Director Sam Gawenda, we decided to see if we could have as many Rising Tide team members as possible join us in Cebu. We not only wanted to celebrate with Kate but had been inspired to take some time out together as a company – to share good food, enjoy some laughs, talk about our personal and professional goals, and recent life and work highlights, as well as just have some fun.

Before long, 22 Rising Tide team members had congregated in Cebu. Some of us had travelled from Australia, others from South Africa and more flew in from Vietnam. Arriving in dribs and drabs, our team members made trip after trip to the airport to make sure everyone arrived to a friendly, familiar face.

Day one was spent on the bus, checking out local spots and settling into our resort. A night of fun, food and sub-par karaoke followed! This reaffirmed that, for Filipinos, karaoke is akin to a religion!

The following day, we dolled ourselves up for Kate and Angelo’s wedding. We witnessed a beautiful ceremony and were grateful Kate and Angelo chose to have the reception in English, as it gave us a brilliant opportunity to uncover more of what makes the Philippines special. Then, we kicked up our heels at the after-party.

Once the celebrations were finished, we moved onto our next resort, the host of RTiculation 2023 –
our first international offsite team conference. Rising Tide Partner and Senior Financial Planner Sam Jewell hosted an emotion-filled welcome session followed by an opportunity for everyone to share their highlights of 2022, and a life experience they’re keen to tackle in 2023. For the record, the birth of my daughter Rosie Saint was my 2022 highlight, and I aim to spend a couple of days away with my son Max (including some air travel) this year.

My biggest takeaway from this first session is that everyone has personal challenges they’re dealing with behind the scenes, and that it often goes unnoticed. I know this session has given our Rising Tide team confidence that we’ve created a safe place to share our troubles and our goals, knowing that support is there.

The following day, half the team went canyoneering, whilst the rest opted for a massage and some down time. This gave each of us another chance to see our colleagues in different settings and have different conversations.

As the afternoon sun punished my pasty white skin, we returned to the resort and entered work mode. Sam Gawenda ran a session where the team shared some thoughts and feelings about what they’d like to see in their teammates, and also what Rising Tide means to all of us.

To round out the day, we shared the company’s Statement of Direction with the team for the first time. Rising Tide’s roadmap for the next five years, the ideas behind this Statement have taken years to come to fruition and months to perfect, and RTiculation provided a fantastic opportunity to share this with the broader team.

Night two was headlined by our Financial Planning Team Leader Resty and his band! They brought the house down with their songs and the heavens opened with Resty’s drum solo! It was during this evening that we saw the team click in a new way; new relationships formed and some existing ones deepened. It was amazing to witness.

Before we knew it, the trip was ending and many team members were saying goodbye.

I got home, buggered after overnight flights, the intensity of the Asian humidity and minimal sleep, however, this trip was a momentous occasion for Rising Tide and for me. It’s truly one of the proudest moments of my career. I know my heart is fuller than it was before this adventure, having spent time learning more about so many Rising Tide team members, the Filipino culture, and so much more.

There are way too many people to thank individually, but the RTIculation organising committee did a flawless job. We all felt so cared for in a foreign place – and I can’t wait to get back.

And to Kate & Angelo: “Congratulations sa bagong kasal.”