I arrived in New Zealand five years ago for an extended stop-over – to explore the country and have a break before looking for work and a new home in Australia.

Things didn’t quite go according to plan. 

Within three weeks of arriving in New Zealand, I had found a job, a house and a new life in Auckland, in a country I had never even visited before. 

When I first arrived in October 2014, I was wearing summer clothes, and I got off the plane, and it was cold, and I was instantly reminded of London. I immediately thought I had made a huge mistake. 

I had already made connections with a local recruitment consultant before arriving, with a view to looking at temporary work options to fund my travels. When a role requiring SAP skills came up at Auckland Council, the recruitment agency called and asked if I was keen to go along to the interview.

I remember it clearly; it was a Friday and it was the first time the sun was shining since I’d arrived. I wore my ‘corporate’ look, with trousers, shirt and tie, and by the time I arrived for the interview, I was sweating. I was amazed to be greeted by a woman in sweatpants and another in a singlet. It was ‘casual Friday’, and I was a little taken aback by the informality. 

The interviewers explained that the Council was migrating from its existing platform to SAP software and needed assistance with organisational transformation. Having implemented SAP for a large book retailer in Canada, I had the right experience and understood the potential challenges.

I started work on the following Monday and I haven’t returned to Canada since!

Sea change

I knew within days of arriving in Auckland that I loved the city. I also realised quite early on that I can never live far from the sea again. I was raised in Montreal, Canada, where the nearest ocean is 11 hours away by car. I now live in the city centre and the sea is just a short walk away. 

hiking around Muriwai is one of the amazing things you can do in Auckland

From my house, I look out to the island of Rangitoto and the Hauraki Gulf. At weekends I like to go and hike at Mangawhai Heads (80 minutes north of Auckland) and Muriwai beach. These are idyllic spots, with very few people and fantastic scenery. I love to explore and discover new walks, and I’m already planning to visit the South Island to walk the Abel Tasman track next year.

In terms of my career, I have had different opportunities and roles at Auckland Council, from data migration and cleansing, through to my current position as Robotics Process Lead and Continuous Improvement Analyst. We’ve developed bots to undertake day-to-day tasks, which means that we can deploy staff into other areas of the organisation. 

Part of my role is to upskill and develop employees to ensure improvement and implementation outcomes benefit staff, our customers and the Council. It’s a rewarding job and I get to meet lots of interesting people. What’s more, I work flexible hours, which allows me to have the perfect work-life balance, as I’m able to visit the gym and do yoga every day.

Auckland’s IT opportunities

The size of Auckland makes it unique - it’s relatively small, which means there are loads of opportunities for highly skilled people. In terms of the IT sector, there’s a small talent pool which means those who have the skills and experience are in high demand. Given the smaller size of most organisations (compared to corporates in global cities), IT is often easier to manage and implement, which is a bonus.

Another advantage for IT professionals is that in New Zealand, we tend to wait until technology has been tried and tested in other countries before bringing it here. This means when it is adopted, it is run out at speed, with learnings gained from others who have experienced any pitfalls and challenges.

I have also found that during my time working in Auckland, there is genuine collaboration between people who work for different companies. Having worked in Canada and London, where corporates operated in silos, it’s great that Auckland businesses cooperate and share. Failures and successes are collectively discussed and examined, without fear of the competition taking ideas. The honesty is quite refreshing; and while competition exists, it’s more about making sure everybody is in the race, at the same time.  

Off grid

Whenever I can, I head to GridAKL to sit in the café and people watch. The space is a great environment for entrepreneurs and startups to find like-minded people to take their technology ideas and bring them to life. It’s an exciting and buzzing place, and it reminds me why I have made Auckland my home, and just how many opportunities there are for people who work in the IT sector.

Justin arrived in Auckland for a holiday and never left

He now lives in central Auckland and is a Robotics Process Lead and Continuous Improvement Analyst at Auckland Council.
 

Like the rest of the world, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is adjusting to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Our borders currently remain closed to anyone other than a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, those travelling from quarantine-free travel zones, or those granted a special exemption. Please visit our COVID-19 update for visitors and Aucklanders for the latest information.

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