I can honestly say that, ‘I love what I do’. That being said, I didn’t fall straight into the arms of professional success (who ever does?) My first job (like so many others) was at a supermarket in South Auckland where I worked as a check out operator. Being young and new to the workforce I knew that being picky wasn’t going to do me any favours. Despite the lack of complexity in the role it was a good place to start and overall the most important thing was that I actually made a start. I knew it wasn’t ‘forever’ and although at times the job struggled to hold my interest there were a few highlights. One such highlight that comes to mind was witnessing a rather tall cross-gender shopper stealing a jumbo bottle of wine then proceeding to leap over my counter only to end up on the tiles having been tackled by a security officer. Another day, another dollar in the deep South!
Through my experiences I learnt at a young age to be self-sufficient. A big part of me had to because I chose to move out of home so young. Of course, I could have stayed on and worked my way up the chain at the supermarket. From assistance supervisor, to supervisor and at some stage on to store manager but in my heart of hearts there was a greater calling and when the heart calls, you answer. My passion for travel had always been strong so I took the leap and applied myself to study. By applying my passion to my studies I gained my Travel & Tourism Qualifications, which along the way revealed a strong desire to join our National Carrier – Air New Zealand.
I applied straight out of study only to be told that my application was unsuccessful. As far as words go, the word ‘unsuccessful’ left rather a bad taste in my mouth and I’m not going to lie – I was disappointed. After a brief moment of ‘why me’ I realised that if I really wanted this job, I needed to better position myself as a worthwhile candidate and my current supermarket role just wasn’t going to cut it. A short search later and it was off to the call centre world for me, where I would spend most of my time being hung up on and told in a matter of small 4 letter words to go away. Despite those ‘character building’ experiences, I learned allot and before long had opened pathways to a future more aligned with my passions.
After just one short year I decided that I had the experience necessary to reapply to Air NZ so after a quick revision of my resume I once again waited to see if they would take the bait. It wasn’t long after that I received ‘the phone call’. The person on the other line said the words I had been dreaming of for years – “You’ve got the job”. I felt like I had won lotto.
In the 10 years I worked for Air NZ I met some amazing people and experienced moments both challenging and rewarding. Seeing one of the largest aircraft in the world up close, meeting the rich and famous, helping those in need, experiencing emergencies, witnessing death, being yelled at, having things thrown at me and not to mention being blamed for the weather!
One moment I will never forget is having a passenger thank me for saving their life after my efforts in managing their minor heart attack. Looking back on this experience it makes me realise that sometimes life puts you in these ‘life or death’ and ‘make or break’ situations, where the direction you take can have a profound impact on your life and the lives of others. There was something both terrifying and empowering about having that person’s life in my hands and I thank God that they were strong enough to pull through it with me.
It is safe to say that my time at Air NZ had a profound impact on the way I viewed the world around me and the part that I was playing in that world. I suppose some people would have retreated through these experiences however I was left with a burning desire to extract even more from my career. I needed to be a part of something bigger – something that would make a difference. What better way to do that than be a teacher. To become the GPS for someone else and to help pave the road to their success.
The next very important chapter of my life began at the International Travel College of New Zealand (ITC). I knew I was home the day that I started and saw the faces of students wanting to be somewhere, enjoying their environment and most of all witnessing tutors who were more than teachers, they were role models with an influence that could shape not only the minds of students, but also their destiny.
A lot could be leant from some of the incredible people who work at ITC, especially my line Manager Ceri and the hugely supportive team. A manager for me in the past meant someone who micro managed to prevent mistakes, often hindering in the process. This has not been the case for me and in fact I’ve been enabled to reach my potential through being encouraged to express new ideas & initiatives. Because of this we have grown our project and expanded nation wide. It shows you that the more trust and faith that you invest in your people, the more the team & the business will grow.
In my work at ITC I tutor secondary students and provide them with usable skills in 8 different areas of Travel and Tourism. These students spend at most five consecutive days with me. My main mode of operation involves two day courses so a period five days long is rare. Day one is the day of ‘breaking’. Breaking may seem harsh but it allows them to build on their strengths and manage their weaknesses. At the end of the day we all have weaknesses – the trick is preventing them from inhibiting our growth as we move through life. This is especially important with our young people.
After just one day most believe that they have a fresh start and an opportunity to forget the wrongs I favour of the future. It is the most rewarding and fulfilling moment to have my students attend day two ready to conquer the world. With positive influence, recognition of the great and amazing things they possess along with building a trusting relationship with each they leave my two day course with more fuel to hopefully make amazing lives for themselves. My point with this is to trust more in those you influence and if anything give them the opportunity to shine, don’t take away someone’s chance at creating themself.
This is where a teacher’s role becomes something more than just words and numbers. It’s not just about giving knowledge, it’s about instilling faith that a person at any moment can start on the pathway towards being the best they can be. We instill trust and establish rapport, then give the knowledge. Like the famous Yoda once said, “Errr the force is strong in this one”. The truth is that everyone has that force, they just need help realising it. That’s where I and all of you can enter the equation.