Updated: Nov 4, 2021
My first memory is having to ask for help. I welcomed that help when I needed it most. In my darkest moment, a simple act of kindness lit the way forward.
I was born in Christchurch, New Zealand to Samoan immigrant parents. My early life was traumatic. I grew up in New Zealand, Samoa and Australia. I faced domestic violence at home and racial discrimination at school. To get back at the bullies, I got high grades, but I struggled to stay focused on my education. One of my first jobs was in a factory, assembling coat hangers in a small, dark room with just a shaft of sunlight shining through. I remember thinking "God there must be more to life than this." When I got my first pay, I remember running home to show my mother and sister around Christmas time. Life was tough, but it felt good to help my mum who was juggling two jobs, long hours and low wage.
I believe your past experiences are a powerful force for good if you let God refine you to be a better version of yourself.
I understand what it's like
...to be on the outside looking in
...to be frustrated with your present and anxious for your future.
I also know that overcoming life's challenges makes you stronger, prepares and enables you to soar above life's unexpected storms.
I did move on from the coathanger job, and tried many things. Flipping burgers. Selling encyclopaedias door to door. Working at the laundromat. My career turned a corner when I landed an office job.
I was proud to be working in an office, but I didn't understand the importance of detail, customer service, team work and process. This was the first time I heard that when you ASSUME, it makes an ASS out of U and ME. This simple lesson was the first of many that I learnt along the way.
That first office job opened the door to work in charities, the insurance industry, the call centre industry, tertiary education, and eventually, high tech.
With each job,
I would reach a limit and get bored.
What I didn't realise at the time
was that this was my
trying to get out.
I was always pushing the boundaries, curious and asking myself... What if? Why not? Who said?
In 2007 I cofounded a technology consultancy. Social media was brand new, and companies wanted to understand how to use it. Together with my cofounder, we educated universities, general managers, lawyers, accountants, musicians, entrepreneurs, multinational companies overseas and executives how to use social media. I was also a technology presenter on TVNZ's Breakfast show. I believe my experience explaining and translating things for my immigrant parents helped me break down complex things into simple language for the TV audience.
Technology is an exciting new frontier for everyone. Instead of letting it disrupt us, we embrace the innovative revolution.
Over 8 years I was privileged to lead multicultural teams, adding Cultural Intelligence to what I had already learnt growing up between cultures. We helped immigrants gain skills and confidence that helped them establish a new life in New Zealand with their families.