Posts Tagged With: movember

Good times (in an office…)

With Christmas almost upon us and the rest of the Grads having a great time abroad, Ben reflects on the good times he’s had recently in the Brighton and Surbiton offices.

I’ve never been a fan of working in an office. Sitting all day, staring at a computer screen, occasionally making a cup of coffee is a little… er… dull. Fortunately, there are times when working in an office can be a lot of fun. Aside from the fascinating projects I’ve been working on recently (more info to come in the new year), the social side can also be great. Furthermore, I think a good social environment can create a happy workforce, which is essential for a business to prosper.

For example, whilst in Brighton with the Sector’s eCommerce and iExplore team, we had “International Food Fridays”. Brave volunteers would sign up and promise to make the national dish of whichever country came out of the hat. I was given Portugal. Unfortunately I’ve never been to Portugal and had no idea what to make. Fortunately, there was a resident Portuguese guy (Fred Cardoso) who was there to advise/encourage/pressure me to make sure it was a success!

The result can be seen in the picture below and (to my relief) it went down really well:

For someone that never cooked a Portuguese dish, Ben got really near a Portuguese Chef” – Fred, resident Portuguese food expert.

There was also Movember, Halloween bake sales and an amazing place to have lunch (see pics below).

I have recently moved to the Crystal Ski office in Surbiton, where there is also a great social atmosphere. We’ve had a huge Christmas party, numerous cakes, several gingerbread houses and even wrapped the Product Director’s desk up in Christmas wrapping paper! ‘Tis the Season!

I hope you enjoy the pictures below and have a great Christmas wherever you are.

Categories: Ben Gill | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seattle: Life. Work. Play.

Ben describes his challenging experience of moving to a new city, finding somewhere to live and launching an exciting new business in North America.

Sunset over Puget Sound

Views like this make going to work a lot less painful...


Moving to Seattle was an exciting prospect: from Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing to Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix to mountains, ocean and microbrews – it seemingly had everything – even!

Although I was sad to leave my friends and beloved pet sharks (RIP George) in London behind, I love a good adventure and the excitement that comes with visiting a new place.

The first week was wild. I slept in the basement apartment of one of our colleagues’ houses, along with another TUI Grad (Ben Ireland), a professional American football player (Brian), and a genius IT wizard straight out of Silicon Valley (Erik). The apartment was small and bedding was sparse. We took it in turns to sleep in the laundry room, the closet and the “art room”, which was interesting to say the least. However, fortunately (thanks initially to my jet lag and then to our nights out in Seattle) I slept like a baby on the hard floor. Then suddenly everybody left.

After only a week, Ben went back to England for training, Brian was extradited to Canada (even Stanford alumni struggle to get a visa for the US nowadays) and Erik flew back to Cal for some sunshine, so I was left alone. Life immediately got a lot quieter and became far more challenging that I had anticipated. Work was fine, finding my way to the office was a daily challenge (until I got my American sim card and was able to use Google maps) and getting into a normal routine was tough.

Fortunately I did eventually sort myself out with a house, gym membership and social life, which combined to help me find my feet and enjoy Seattle once more.


Work has been a lot of fun. I’m currently assisting with the launch of a new company called FanTravel (, a joint venture between TUI Travel and 2 former Stanford football players. We’re aiming to tap into the potentially huge market of travelling college (university) sports fans, as most American college football matches attract over 60,000 fans every week, some over 110,000!

I’m working with a small team in the TUI North America office in Seattle, Brian (currently in Canada) and Erik (in California). Due to our dispersed team, we’re forced to use innovative communication techniques. So in addition to the standard male grunts and mumbles, we also use Yammer (like a private Facebook for companies), Skype and Dropbox. These tools have been invaluable, enabling seamless workflow across states and time zones.

I’ve been tasked with creating a marketing plan, strategy and launching the brand. As I haven’t done much marketing before, this was quite a steep learning curve! However I think I’ve finally got my head around it and in a matter of weeks have created a solid brand strategy, style guide, marketing strategy, schedule and budget for the coming year. Now all I have to do is to do it!

So next is the exciting bit… I’ll soon be launching a Facebook competition, Facebook ads and PPC campaign in order to generate awareness of our new brand. Then we’ll be touring around the West Coast (visiting LA, Oregon, and Arizona) in order to meet our target market and promote the new company at the upcoming Spring Practice football games (which are a big deal over here; last year the University of Oregon game attracted 45,000 people!). This should be a lot of fun. I’m really excited about promoting our company that we’ve all been working so hard on to create. Of course, I’m also excited about experiencing American college culture (it is literally just like what you see in the movies…).


Aside from work, I’ve been making the most of living within an hour from the mountains by going skiing as much as possible. Seattle is in a fantastic location, with the Cascade Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. It’s an outdoor enthusiasts dream and the standard uniform around here is a fleece jacket.

In fact, the fleece jacket represents Seattle pretty well: not good in wet weather but dries quickly, unfashionable but carefree as there’s so much more to life.


This is my first post since Movember, during which I raised a total of £135 – Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! It was worth it in the end.

Categories: Ben Gill | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The End of Movember!

Ben reviews his recent ordeal and reveals his new look…

I’m writing this on the 2nd of December, post-mo-shave, after the most challenging month of my life. Even so,  I can safely say that I’m glad I did it. So far I’ve raised £95 for charity (come on, lets make it £100!) and to be honest the mo did start to grow on me…

So as I sit here with a cold and naked top lip, I’d like to thank you for your support and for putting up with me talking nonsense on this grad blog. If you are a prospective applicant, then I hope that it’s given you an insight into the outgoing and non-corporate attitude that is embedded throughout the Specialist & Activity Sector. It truly is a great place to work and I would highly recommmend the grad scheme. Now if you want any more advice then you’re gonna have to donate to Movember:   😉

Anyway, enough corruption. This past week has seen me take my mo to  Birmingham University to judge a large group of students ideas for a social media strategy for Gullivers Sports Travel (one of our sports brands). They found it highly amusing as I tried to keep a straight face and ask them serious questions with a bushy top lip! I also decided to remove my “tickler” (despite the lack of votes) in order to try a different look for the final few days of the month, which was very refreshing. Finally, a kind old friend of mine donated a generous £10, but then asked whether it was for charity or just for my back pocket!

So just to make this clear, I didn’t do this for profit. All the money donated is in aid of testicular & prostate cancer charities. For more info and to donate click here:

On the final day of Movember, it was only right to have a silly photo shoot with a Mo Bro… see the result below.

Celebrating the end of movember in style

Celebrating the end of movember in style


And finally, here is the timeline of the month:


Thanks for reading and even more thanks for your support.

Mover and out.

Categories: Ben Gill | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

24th Movember: Should I keep the “Tickler”?

After a tough 24 days with a mo, Ben asks whether he should remove his “tickler” and adopt the more traditional moustache design.

It has been a long month. I thought that as I got close to December, having a mo would become easier. However, even though I have less that a week left, it is now that the mo is really making a significant imact on my life and actually taking over my face. Furthermore, I haven’t received any sponsorship for almost 2 weeks now… [sob, sob].

To remedy this, I have had an idea: I have been debating whether to keep the “tickler” (the mini goatee below my lips) for a few weeks now. As I originally thought that it “balanced out my face”. Unfortunately this has led to comparisons to a muskateer and this week to William Shakespeare himself (see image below).

So do you think I should keep or remove my “tickler”?!

In line with IMF and World Bank democratic practice, 1 vote costs £1. So the more money you donate the more votes (and so decision making power) you get. I will review the number of votes on Sunday and comply with whatever you decide…

Please post your votes (and donate) here:

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“Mo Bro” Ben Features on TUI Intranet

Our very own Mo Bro Ben Gill takes pride of place atop the TUI intranet news feed today for his fantastic Movember efforts.

Ben Gill Movember

Ben features on Discover

Ben has been growing his mo since the beginning of November in order to raise money for men’s health charities. We’re hopeful that his feature on Discover will raise awareness of his cause and hopefully get some extra donations from our TUI colleagues.

You can continue to follow Ben’s efforts here on the blog and donate to him at

Ben’s not the only one to be growing his mo for Movember. Here at the Real Gap and i to i office, I’ve been keen to develop the idea of fundraising and this begins with our Movember team, who also feature on Discover this month.

Real Gap and i to i Movember

The Real Gap and i to i team

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Movember: The progress so far…

2 weeks with a mo and things aren’t looking good…

(If you think this is funny/care about men’s health then please donate here:

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Movember: 1 man, 1 month & 1 horrendous moustache

Ben Gill Movember

Ben on day 5 of Movember...

Ben Gill donates his face to charity…

As this is my first blog article I feel that I should introduce myself. So, without wanting this to sound like an insert on a dating website or an episode of Blind Date, here goes…

Hi, I’m Ben, I’m 25 years old and I’m from Wiltshire! Oh dear, this is sounding like an introduction on Blind Date already… So I’ll be quick: I currently live in London, have just started on the TUI Travel Specialist & Activity Grad Scheme (2011 intake), previously studied BSc Environmental Science and International Development, have worked in the TV industry, for a couple of start-ups and for an events company. I love to travel and am always on the lookout for the next adventure… So pick me!

Anyway, enough of that, now you know who I am I can start this blog post properly. Last week, Laura Hampton (another 2011 Grad) persuaded me to donate my face to charity for a month. Unfortunately, the other male grads kept their heads in the sand, so it has transpired that I’ve committed myself to growing a moustache for the whole of November. On my own.

Admittedly, I’m terrified. I have never had a moustache before and have never wanted one. I am absolutely certain that I will look like a pervert and will probably lose most/all of my friends (hopefully only for a month). What’s more, I fear that my efforts to find a girlfriend before Christmas will be completely thwarted. The problem is moustaches just aren’t a good look anymore, something that the Movember movement are determined to change.

Movember began in Australia in 2003 in order to (according to their website) “raise money and awareness for men’s health”. In the UK, they support the 1st and 2nd most common type of male specific cancers – prostate and testicular cancer. A very, very noble and honourable cause. However, knowing the Aussies I would bet you 5 schooners that it was dreamt up by a couple of mates who thought it’d be a laugh to grow a “mo”.

Since it’s humble beginnings of 30 participants in 2003, Movember has grown at an exponential rate. Last year 450,000 people took part, raising £48,500,000 for charity. Since 2003, Movember has raised a staggering £106,000,000. As I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a fantastic achievement for a cause which is very much worth supporting.

So I’m in. I’ve got permission from my current boss, warned my friends and promised Laura that I’ll do it. I’ve even announced it to John Wimbleton (to a look of bemusement) and so now feel obliged, no, determined to see it through.

Over the next month I will be updating this blog with photos of my mo’s development and occasional anecdotes about how a moustache has changed my life. I hope you find it entertaining, have sympathy for me and donate as much as you can toward this extremely worthy cause.

Mover and out.

P.S. You can donate here: Thanks.

Categories: Ben Gill | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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