Sophie Luther - Adventure Enthusiast & GM at Animation Research Limited

by Insiders Dunedin

Dunedin has a number of people who take full advantage of the natural playground this city has to offer. The diverse landscapes provide numerous activities that are right at your doorstep, given you are willing to experience them. 

I recently sat down with a person who has a very active background that now calls Dunedin home. A place that fulfills a great work and active lifestyle, right at the bottom of the world. 

Sophie Luther moved here from London three years ago. After studying Biological and Medicinal Chemistry, she traded in the lab coat for a career as a competitive sailor. Her career took off after competing and winning a sailing competition that Sophie described as a 'Yacht Idol'. As a result, she was provided full sponsorship to compete in sailing competitions around the world. 

This sponsorship enabled Sophie to excel her sailing career. She was the only female to compete in the Volvo Baltic Ocean Race. Not to mention, it provided the opportunity to travel the world for a few years. Sophie thoroughly enjoyed these years until she was asked to compete in the solo events. Something Sophie was not interested in, and I don't blame her. The idea of sailing around the world to by yourself does not sound that appealing, especially considering the huge danger associated with such a task. 

Sophie's sailing career led to a very exciting few years following the Volvo Ocean Race around the world. She was employed for ten years managing the races media and comms. First, based in the south coast of England, then in Spain for the remaining three and a half years.  A career that gave her the opportunity to go around the world twice with the race. As well as, a third time in between the races, working on race logistics and communications strategies. 

After her third race working with Volvo Ocean Race, Sophie, and her partner at the time decided to move to Dunedin. Sophie's partner who was originally from Dunedin wanted to move home and build a house, so the decision was made to make the move here three years ago. Her original idea was to work in a coffee shop, but has now ended up working as the general manager of Animation Research Limited (ARL). 

After her first sit down with Ian Taylor, she left with a job, being introduced to the other staff as a fellow employee. Sophie started out as a project manager but after a short 6 or so months was promoted to general manager. 

Sophie's job entails juggling a lot of roles, which is no doubt challenging and requires the right person. She is obviously a perfect match, as it is no secret that ARL excels at what they do on a global scale. Sophie's role includes dealing with everything such as communications, logistics, HR, scheduling, strategy, the list could go on forever. However, Sophie believes it is the story that ARL tells in the work they do that puts them above the competition. The ability to communicate a story that people will engage with, irrelevant of the context, is where ARL strength lies. A strength Sophie has a big hand in as it is her job to help identify that story and organise her team to deliver it to ARL's rigorous standard they set for themselves. 

Alongside another career that enables her to travel a lot, Sophie finds Dunedin a place that has the right amount of activities, which are easily accessible. But, it is the lifestyle Dunedin provides Sophie that excites her the most. The relaxed, innovative and in her words 'funky' vibe Dunedin has, is what sets it apart. 

Sophie doesn't have a bad word to say about Dunedin. She informed me that she had found no other place quite like it, anywhere in the world. A place you can ride your bike, to and from work. Not to mention, the ability to detour and ride up somewhere like Mount Cargill on the way home. You can live in the inner city and go for a run that takes you through enough vegetation that makes you feel as though you are out in a forest, not in a city. And when the weather is right you can surf a huge amount of breaks that are only a stones throw away from each other. 

All the activities Sophie described are incredibly accessible, some only a fifteen-minute drive away. Something Sophie sometimes finds hard to believe and is why she loves it here in Dunedin. It is great to discover stories like Sophie's. More importantly, it is incredible to hear and reflect on what our city has to offer in comparison to other cities around the world.  

If like Sophie, you want to take full advantage of what this city has to offer. Then I suggest you put aside some time to tackle some of Sophie's recommended things to do here in Dunedin. 

You should check out Nichols Creek and the bike track that is there. A run or walk through Ross Creek is a must. But, Sophie's favourite thing to do and she recommends everyone should do it if you have not already,  is to bike up over Highcliff, over the top road leading out towards the peninsula. Listed as one of Lonely Planets top ten bike rides!

Post submitted by Joshua Jeffery


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