29 year old Dean was based in London, working in corporate IT. He was finding the city lifestyle beginning to wear a bit thin. A career break with Flying Fish was an easy choice to make.
Dean explains: I wanted a new challenge, to learn and achieve something from my career break instead of just travelling around and 'seeing' new places.
A keen recreational skier, he decided to go pro. He enrolled on the 11 week Ski Instructor course, heading off for Vancouver and the mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb.
Dean says: It was great - the people and the skiing. I had the chance to try some pretty steep stuff, improve my skiing ability and scare the hell out of myself at the same time!
End of season award
Highs included witnessing a bear crossing, successfully passing my CSIA 2 exam in below -20 degree alpine conditions and winning the end of season award for excellence on the course.
Low point? Vomiting (due to illness) half-way down Whistler Bowl, in front of my instructor Brian, and the rest of the group ....
Work in Australia
After completing the course, Dean continued to travel and ended up working for the rest of the season as a ski instructor at the Kosciusko Thredbo snow sports school in Australia.
He spent the rest of his career break exploring NZ, Laos and Thailand then headed back to the UK. After a month of catching up with family and friends he started a new IT contract based at Warwick University. He had, however, been firmly bitten by the snow bug.
Dean adds: During my time spent training and teaching in Canada and Australia, heavy emphasis was always placed on deliverying quality customer service and high levels of instruction on the mountain.
During a recent visit to the Alps, I was taken aback by holiday makers who were unhappy with the levels of customer service and instruction. With high prices being charged for holiday packages, lift passes and lessons, I could understand their frustration.
Blue Snow Adventures
I decided to use my ski training and travelling experience to find a resort where I could create more affordable snow sports holidays with high levels of customer service. I found the perfect spot in Slovakia and my new company Blue Snow Adventures was born.
With a growing team of professionally trained snow sport instuctors, we offer affordable mountain experiences and personal levels of instruction and customer service. Our motto is we do the work so you don't have to.
My advice to anyone thinking of a career break is this - look on it not just as an escape but as a pure investment in YOU. Listen and learn!