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Sixty Years Work and Still Going Strong

There’s an interesting (to me) anniversary looming. Sixty years ago this week I joined the workforce. I’ve worked the ensuing six decades continuously without a break, mostly full time though shorter hours in recent months. And I’ve had an incredibly rich, diverse and satisfying career so far, of which I’ve enjoyed almost every minute.

At 8.30am, on Monday 7 January 1963, complete with de rigueur suit, crisp white shirt, conservative tie and black shoes, I rocked up to the then Government Tourist Bureau (GTB) in Wellington’s Wakefield St to start work as a Travel Officer Cadet. Since then I’ve worked in engineering, horticulture, FMCG, business lobbying, advertising/promotion, industrial distribution, telecommunications, health IT, education, local government, and a few more. Job titles have included Staff Trainer, Executive Officer, General Manager, Group Marketing Manager, Chief Executive, Consultant, and Project Manager.

I’ve had 10 employers, ranging from 4 to 12 years each. Flown on at least 3000 flights including 1200 on the Auckland-Wellington route alone. Stayed in hundreds, maybe thousands of hotels (including more than 200 nights in just one - Wellington’s James Cook). Had a 4-year quasi-diplomatic posting. Enjoyed business trips to, or through, more than 40 countries. Sat on an untold number of boards and committees. Chaired an international organisation – big highlight. And for all that, I’ve never darkened the door of a university.

I’m lucky to still have a few great old friends from jobs way back. Random examples – John Rasmussen, Roger Brant and Grant Ridgewell from the GTB; Gilbert Peterson and Maree Neal from the then NZ Manufacturers Federation/“Buy NZ Made”; Warren Fisher from Carter Holt; Judy Speight and Graeme Osborne (Chairs) and too many team colleagues to mention from TUANZ. Many others haven’t been as lucky as me and are no longer around.

I’ve had my share of successes. I’ve also made a few colossal mistakes, which I’ve gone on to rectify and learn from - you learn so much more from screwing something up and having to deal with the fallout than you ever do from getting it right the first time!

I’ve got a zillion anecdotes to share. About being a tour guide on many “Tiki Tours” with all the fascinating human stories that went with that turf. About making training videos on how to assemble a Bailey bridge and how to use stop/go paddles at road work sites. About roaming around medical centres to establish video health services in rural NZ and the isolated extremities of Samoa. About chartering a steam train for a weekend to do circuits around Auckland in support of a “Buy NZ Made” retail promotion. About being intimately involved in NZ’s first SAP implementation amid conflict that sometimes felt physically threatening. About walking into a Minister’s office in South America to find an audience of 40 officials assembled to hear me give a presentation which I had no forewarning I was expected to give. About seriously scary 4-wheel drive trips up vertical farm tracks to produce stories and videos about wireless installations on remote mountains. About being bawled out (occasionally) or loved (usually, depending on the issue) by industry CEOs; working with or against hundreds of Ministers and politicians, and negotiating the hazardous trade of media commentary. About nearly getting an entire tour party evicted from a hotel in Te Kuiti. That’s just a tiny taste.

Staunch support has always been there from family, mates, and work colleagues. Heartfelt thanks All!

Will there be a book? Yes. Its already half written. But you probably won’t get to read it as I’ll most likely just produce a few copies for the grandkids to use as paperweights. And it has to fit around my current work – I still do some writing and consulting in a couple of fields. I continue to welcome new challenges, so please keep them coming – I especially enjoy writing, whether ghosting or in my own name.

Will I make an entire seventh decade? Statistically it feels unlikely, but who knows?

But meanwhile, what a ride! Big thanks to those who have shared parts of my first six. If I’m in any way typical, work can be an immensely rich and rewarding part of life to be relished and enjoyed! Hence the proposed book title – “Thank God it’s Monday.”

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