A business executive has been dubbed ‘Britain’s most understanding boss’ after he gave two employees permission to spend a year working remotely from cities around the world.

Ian Mattioli, chief executive and co-founder of wealth management firm Mattioli Wood, has given the green light to Chris Smith and Suzanne Walker because he believes businesses need to adapt to meet the needs of younger employees. 

He said: ‘We have these millennials who come to work for different reasons than we do and some of the things they say may actually be right.’

Mr Smith, 36, and Miss Walker, 33, who are in a relationship, will visit 12 cities over the next 12 months, using the internet to keep up with work while they are away. 

Jetting off: Ian Mattioli, left, chief executive and co-founder of wealth management firm Mattioli Wood, has given Chris Smith and Suzanne Walker, right, permission to work remotely because he believes businesses need to adapt to meet the needs of younger employees

World travelers: Chris Smith and Suzanne Walker will travel more than 35,000 miles as they visit 12 cities around the world over the next 12 months, as seen on the map above

The couple, who wanted to travel without sacrificing their careers, will work from serviced offices in destinations including Bogota, Prague and Phnom Penh – and will not have to set foot in the firm’s Leicester headquarters until 2018. 

The first stop on the 35,000 mile trip is Mexico City, Mexico, followed by the Colombian cities of Medellin and Bogota. 

The couple then continue on to Lima, Peru, and two stops in Argentina before leaving South America for Europe. A tour of South East Asia then follows before the couple return to their base near Leicester at the end of the year. 

Mr Mattioli, 54, said the couple were ‘a bit fearful’ when they first approached him with the idea, explaining: ‘I think they thought the answer would be “no”.  

Instead the businessman wanted to ‘work out a solution’.  

He said: ‘Suzanne has been here since her 21st birthday and Chris has been here 10 years. We want to keep them.

‘If we offer some flexibility there two will come back with great stories, they will be better for it and they will work for us. I’m proud of them. I wish I could do it.’

Plotting their journey: The couple will have stops in South America, Europe and Asia

He added he was forward to seeing how ‘effective and productive remote working can actually be’. 

The couple will travel the world with a group of mainly American professionals known known as ‘digital nomads’, who want to travel the world and keep their jobs.

The package, arranged by travel company Remote Year, includes flights, accommodation and the use of offices in each country.


January: Mexico City, Mexico 

February: Bogota, Colombia 

March: Medellin, Colombia

April: Lima, Peru

May: Cordoba, Argentina

June: Buenos Aires, Argentina

July: Prague, Czech Republic

August: Belgrade, Serbia

September: Valencia, Spain 

October: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

November: Chiang Mai, Thailand

December: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Mr Smith and Ms Walker will travel through South America, Asia and Europe, spending a month in each location. 

And while they will work from offices during the day, evenings, weekends and holidays will be reserved for exploring the local sights.   

Ms Walker, a technical specialist said: ‘We both really like to travel and wanted the opportunity to spend time exploring various parts of the world.

‘But we realised that to do that properly, we would probably have to take 12 months out from work.

‘We thought that would probably mean us having to give up our jobs, which neither of us wanted to do because we really like working for the company.

‘We’ve both been there quite a while and neither of us wanted to leave. It’s incredibly exciting to be the first people in the company to trial this arrangement.

‘Everyone at work has been really supportive and positive about it. Most tourists have to cram in so many things in a very short space of time.

‘We won’t have that pressure, as we’ll have a month at each destination to fit in everything we want to do.’

Inspiration: The couple will swap their Leicestershire office, pictured, for 12 different cities around the world as they set off on their once-in-a-lifetime journey

Mr Smith added: ‘Technology means people no longer have to be tied to the office to get their work done each day.

‘We might not always be working at the exact same time as our colleagues back in the UK because of different time zones.

‘But we will always be contactable and, thanks to the digital age, we will have the means to fulfil our work duties just as though we were at our desks.’ 

Mr Mattioli added: ‘I am delighted that, as a business, we have been able to support Suzanne and Chris on the Remote Year programme, which enables them to combine work with their dream of travelling.’ 


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