Many years ago (1998 to be precise), I began working at Wellington College, in their Transition and Careers Department, organising work experience, speakers for career paths and life skills and helping to write CVs for our students. I also was asked to design the annual year book, and I joined the Rugby Club as their administrator.
In 1999, I was asked by the WCOBA if I would work for them after hours as their Secretary [Executive Officer] – coordinating their database, administration and communications. The role morphed to a full time role until late last year. Over the years, I have developed our very successful reunion programmes, ran alumni-based events, redesigned the alumni newsletter, upgraded the database and in 2017, organised the school’s 150th celebrations. It was my job to provide our Old Boys with ongoing networking, social activities and engagement with their old school through a plethora of ways and to share their stories with fellow alumni. I really enjoy both looking for and hearing the memories, their successes and their career paths.
At the end of 2020, Wellington College realised they were unable to continue funding my position in the way that it had since 1998 from its regular budget, which relied heavily on income from international fee-paying students. As the Government is not currently permitting secondary school-aged international students to enter New Zealand, the budget to cover the remuneration was severely minimised. It was somewhat surreal having to fundraise for my role and for the Archivist who also lost his role. Subsequently, the WCOBA contracted both myself and our Archivist on reduced hours to continue with our purpose of keeping Old Boys engaged and preserving our history and memorabilia.
As an aside for the past ten years, I was also working by contract for ABSNZ (Association of Boys’ Schools NZ), arranging their annual conference and associated administration.
So, realising I could not maintain the lifestyle I was accustomed to, I had to look at other opportunities to keep me in prosecco and pearls – [she jests] and with that and with my relationship with the Heads of the Boys’ schools in New Zealand, secured two additional contracts with the Old Boys’ Associations of Rongotai and Marlborough Boys’ College attending to their alumni engagement and communication. I also have a few other schools I am in talks with and am just in the process of preparing proposals for them to work with their alumni associations.
So, six months on – [I did take a couple of months off to just forget about work altogether] – after almost 40 years as an employee, I am really enjoying being my own boss [aside from learning about tax, gst and invoices] and that I can work across seven days at any time of the day aside from when I am organising an event or attending a meeting. It’s great to work from home – I still go into the school to keep in touch with particular former colleagues and use the Old Boys and Archives Office. The downside is no sick leave, annual leave or public holidays but this year’s Staff Christmas Party will be great!
One of the benefits of being self-employed is that my office can be anywhere – at the end of May, I managed to get to Sydney for three weeks to see my daughter after two years of FaceTime. While she was working, so was I, albeit it two hours behind NZ. I count myself as very fortunate to have had this opportunity and am hoping I can get back without restrictions in November when she and her partner are having their first child. She is a guru on LinkedIn and everything else new since Facebook and Instagram so has been of great help when looking for younger Old Boys.
My son and his wife moved to Havelock North with two, almost three children, earlier this year so my plans to be a hands-on grandmother slightly diminished but we do see each other quite often and again FaceTime is a blessing for us all.
So aside from working, I am a bit of a home-body (even though I do miss those regular trips across the Tasman) and am always looking for something to work on around my house – painting, tiling, flooring, gardening, walking, sitting in the sun during the week and catching up with NZ-based friends and family. Who would have thought that someone who didn’t really enjoy school herself has ended up making a career around school life (or in my case post school life and memories).