Tell us about your background. How did you get to where you are now?
My time in the public service here has included me leading Govt.nz’s content team, working on huge website restructurings for LINZ, and I’ve just started a short stint with Careers New Zealand (as well as doing consulting work).
I must say, though, that I never expected to work in the public service!
I started out as a molecular biologist, but over the years I’ve worked as a management/strategy consultant, researcher, science communicator, “webist”, writer, event organiser/wrangler and more. I’m a very curious person, and always keen to learn new skills and try new industries. The two things that tie it all together are my enormous interest in technology, and my ability to translate between different concepts and language types (for example, translating government jargon to “normal person”).
Why did you decide to join the public sector?
Part of it’s because Wellington is the seat of New Zealand’s government and public service, and so it’s difficult not to be involved at some point! I also believe, very strongly, that the public service has an invaluable role to play in the lives of our citizenry, and I wanted to contribute to the society of which I’m a part.
What is the best thing you have experienced in your career?
I don’t really think in lists…I’d say, though, that one of the consistent highlights is getting to work with a wide range of amazing people, and learning new skills and ways of thinking from them. I’m a very fortunate knowledge sponge!
What is the toughest challenge that you have had to face and overcome in your career?
Working in smaller cities can come with particular challenges, as the size of the job market can become very challenging. An ability to be flexible and change tack has come in very handy, and it’s a skill I’d recommend anyone should work on.
What is the most inspiring example that you have seen in your working life?
People working in the public service who aren’t earning tonnes of money, and face massive challenges – very slow-moving/slow-learning organisations, lack of resource, silo mentalities etc – and yet keep coming to work, year after year, and working their hardest to try and improve the lives of the people they serve.
What advice do you have for other women looking to succeed in public service?
Working in the public service gives you a chance to have a real effect on the lives of people, and to meaningfully contribute – it’s very important and, at least sometimes, very rewarding work. And you’ll meet some amazing people!
You’ll need patience, though, and people skills. And tenacity ☺
And finally, how do you like to unwind after a long week at the office?
I run, swim, do pilates and yoga, walk my dog, ride my motorbike (a KTM Duke 390, the best bike ever!) or bicycle, and drink craft beer with my friends ☺ And I work on all my side projects, too!