Jack's Sabbatical Leave • THINK Global Research

I may be the luckiest THINKer ever…

In August 2022 our tremendous Managing Director, Kristy Ihle, and I came together for a scheduled review and to work on my development plan.

Little did I know I would be walking away from that meeting with not only my updated work KPIs but a planned 3-month sabbatical trip to Latin America and New Zealand.

This is why, I love working at THINK Global Research, being a small business, they pride themselves on understanding the personal goals of each team member to ensure we live happy and fulfilled lives.

Kristy and the team knew me so well that they basically had an itinerary of my dream holiday ready to go.

The past 3 months I have been living that dream, travelling around South and Central America, and New Zealand.

I have had the chance to experience and see some of the most beautiful and exciting things you could hope to see in our world.

I am a huge believer in travel and its ability to give you perspective that connects you with people and the world around you.

So, without further Ado, let me share with you my favourite memories and photos from the trip.


After a quick stopover in the US, I started my South American travels in the 2nd most populated city of Colombia, Medellin.

Infamous for the Pablo Escobar drug cartel in the 80s and 90s, Medellin has transformed from these times. From the colourful and bustling Communa 13, the world class hostels that have embraced digital nomads and remote workers, to its lush green city streetscape, it is a truly beautiful part of the world.

During my time I had the thrill of attending a local football game featuring Atletico Nacional, exploring the markets in Downtown Medellin and enjoying the night life Medellin is famous for.

(Communa 13 is on the left and Estadio de Futbol Atanasio Girardot on the right)


From here my South American journey became a little more rugged, flying down to Leticia  in the very South of Colombia. This is the gateway to the Amazon and where the borders of Peru, Brazil and Colombia meet.

I had the pleasure of sharing the Amazon for 3 nights with the wild animals and insects of the jungle.

(The image to the right is of a non-venous snake, so don’t worry)


My next stop was to the highest capital city in the world, La Paz, Bolivia.

Sitting at 3,640 metres above sea level it took me a couple of nights to adjust to the altitude. Once ready I took an 8-hour overnight bus ride south to Uyuni to check out the salt flats (no doubts you have seen photos of these salt flats before).

This would be a photographer’s dream:

(The big cactuses only grow 1cm per year, with the ones behind me being more than 200 years old)


After a delayed flight, I arrived in Cusco just in time to rush into my induction meeting for my hike. A 4-night and 5-day hike over Salkantay (part of the Vilcabamba mountain range) reaching a peak altitude of 4600 metres.

The crowning piece of this hike is one of the wonders of the modern world, Machu Picchu.

(After enduring a couple of days of rain on the hike, the weather decided to treat us with beautiful sunshine once we arrived at Machu Picchu, pictured on the right)


As beautiful and fun-filled as my time in Machu Picchu was, there was no time to rest, as I caught 3 flights from Cusco to Peurto Natales, in the far south of Chile for my next hike.

This was the big bucket list item for me, a 7-night hike, covering over 100 kilometres on the O Trek circuit in the Torres Del Paine National Park.

Some of the highlights included Dickson Lake and Glacier, hiking up the snow covered John Gardner Pass, Grey Glacier, and the Las Torres.

(I lucked out with the weather, avoiding the snow that had passed through John Gardner pass just a week prior)

After 12 days of hiking (the O-Trek and Machu Picchu combined), I needed a couple of days to recover back in a hotel bed — a nice treat — before exploring more of the Patagonian region.


Patagonia never failed to disappoint, from the Perito Moreno Glacier outside Calafate to the spectacular views of Mount Fitzroy in El Chalten.

I couldn’t help but indulge in a few more hikes to soak in the beautiful landscape.

(Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the very few glaciers not currently receiding, but its growth has slowed in recent years)

(Fun Fact, pictured here is Mount Fitzroy made famous by the outdoor clothing & gear brand Patagonia)


It was now Christmas time and I decided to spend it in the cultured and historic city of Buenos Aires.

Walking around the streets you could believe that, at one stage, this was one of the richest cities in the world with fantastic colonial architecture, beautifully manicured parks and  the widest avenue in the world – Avenida 9 De Julio.

Here I enjoyed walking around and soaking in the colourful streets, markets and nightlife. I also managed to indulge myself with a giant steak for Christmas Day – too big to photograph.


To finish off my time in Latin America I decided to do something a bit different to the average holiday, spending 2 weeks volunteering at a turtle hatchery in Junquillal, Costa Rica.

My weeks consisted of beach cleaning, preparing new nests in the hatchery and cleaning out the old ones, searching for turtles and turtle eggs on night patrols, and releasing hatchlings on the beach.

With all of the 4 species of turtles that visit Junquillal being either vulnerable or endangered, the work being conducted felt extremely rewarding helping to regenerate the wild populations and improving the prospect of hatchlings making it to adulthood.


If you think nothing could top all these experiences, hold your horses because I saved the best for last – 2 weeks in New Zealand with my very patient partner who had been waiting back home in Melbourne.

Our favourite part of the trip was getting to explore the South Island. From Mount Cook, Queenstown, Glenorchy, to the Routeburn Track, and Milford Sound, it was all stunning.

I am back now and settling into life as a THINKer.

A huge thanks is owed to the team for working a little harder while I was gone!

An even bigger thanks is owed to Kristy for offering such a rare and unconventional reward for my work.

You have allowed me to make memories and live experiences I will tell friends and family about for the rest of my life.

For anyone reading this and hoping to make something similar happen, this is what I suggest:

  • Set up a structured development plan with your manager or boss
  • Make sure you incorporate your personal goals into this plan (travel, extra studies, volunteering, whatever it may be)
  • Have clear the benefits it brings to you and your work
  • And have clear plans and goals for when you return to work