I (Nina) first met Bev years ago when she was at the Dowse and I was at MTG Hawke's Bay. I spent a couple of days in her storeroom wrapping (literally) thousands of ceramic pieces to go into an upcoming Bronwyn Cornish show. Over those few days I remember thinking I'd love to work with her one day. Creepily, I also remember that she had a great outfit on (which is always a good start). And now, oh happy day, Bev and I work in the same (pretty fabulous) team at Auckland Museum. And boy what an addition to the team she is. Warm, incredibly funny, friendly, approachable but with work ethic in spades, a "take care of business while taking care of each other" 'tude and collection management skills coming out her ears.
You're a world bridger, Bev, and I couldn't be happier to call you a colleague, a mentor and a pal!
In five words, describe your role in the sector. (The five word limit is for this question only)
Connecting people, work and ideas
What is it about the sector that you love?
The people. Talented, dedicated, good folk - quirky, funny, interesting, genuine, nerdy, expert and sometimes challenging folk – they’re fascinating and fun to work with. I've met extraordinary human beings who've had an impact on me professionally and personally.
I love being able to make things happen in my job and how no two of my workdays are the same. I'm very fortunate that my current workplace is investing in people and technology and has really prioritised the collections - I mean, how special and amazing is that? I'm grateful to those who've taken a punt on me and for the opportunities that have come as a result. And I'm just starting to sink my teeth into a new job in a new area for me, which is exciting.
What have been some challenges in your career?
I'm asked to wear dual hats a lot - I was touring exhibition manager for seven years and acting facilities manager for a year alongside my collection/people manager role (and I've just finished another double role). I gained fantastic experience and friends, an excellent big picture understanding of how an organisation works and an ease working across teams. It’s great for breaking down silos and building diverse networks. I especially loved working in exhibitions, and I'm super grateful people showed that level of faith in me. But you can't do everything and be all things to all people all the time - it can lead to fatigue, burnout or feeling you aren't able to do both jobs justice. Plus, work-life balance is important.
Restructures: I've been fortunate to have survived 7-8, but I have some very talented friends who were unlucky. I understand restructures are a reality and necessary as business needs change, but they're not always handled well.
I’ve had to self-manage a lot. Maybe people didn’t know where to put me with the different hats I was wearing, but there were a few years where I didn’t seem to have any direct line of communication above me even when I was managing others. Luckily I had one amazing director early on in my career that I learned a lot from, and also learned from watching great colleagues. Plus you can develop by taking the good, trying to improve on the not so good, making note of how things made you feel, and making conscious decisions to do things differently if they didn’t work for you. I’ll quickly add a disclaimer – I’m not talking about my current workplace – I have great managers here!
Challenges can be seen as opportunities. Not sure yet if my resilience matches that of a cockroach, but every challenge gets me closer. And I’ll be honest - I’m pretty bloody lucky to be working in the industry I’m in.
What challenges can you see moving forward?
I'm always on the lookout for stars. It doesn't matter if they're fully formed or just have the potential, because they can develop in the right environment. But we've been recruiting like we're on steroids, and finding people with the depth of experience to take on meatier positions can be a challenge. There are people in other parts of the country with that experience, but many aren't moving to Auckland because of the cost of living.
So some challenges I can see are: finding the right people with the skills, energy and commitment to take us into the future; diversity - in our people and what we do - to keep us relevant; and finding time to mentor or support up and comers to turn them into the stars we're looking for.
What I'd love to see is more emerging professionals gaining decent experience in their areas and then putting their hands up for new challenges to become all round stars. The payback comes when you stand out from the crowd for your substance, experience and attitude. If someone gives you an opportunity, stick with it and them long enough to pay your dues, and they won't forget it.
What do you think people in the early stages of their careers can offer the sector?
Energy, new ideas, a collaborative, inclusive, expansive mindset, willingness to learn, savvy and an understanding of what it takes to stay relevant in a changing world.
What is your spirit animal?
Starsky, my rollerskating werewolf - he has the heart of a lion and the resilience of a cockroach.