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Interested in communications or project management? Annie sheds some light

Interested in communications or project management? Annie sheds some light

Annie Hill, Communications/Projects Manager, Priority One

What did you want to be when you were 16?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I was 16. I considered going to journalism school as I really enjoyed writing but knew I wouldn’t like having to meet very tight deadlines every single day. I also considered being a chef, but that was something men mainly did when I was growing up.

What did you end up doing when you left school?
I took academic subjects at school, but the process of typing always fascinated me. Because I didn’t know what type of degree I wanted to study, I ended up doing a year’s business administration programme at Wintec where I learned office processes, shorthand and typing. At the time people were saying typing would be obsolete in future years, however, the complete opposite has happened. That year gave me the tools to work in some great roles in New Zealand and overseas.

Describe a day in your life at work:
I am quite an organised person, so I have a prioritised ‘to do’ list which I try to keep to. However, whenever the phone rings in the Priority One office, it could change the direction my day will take. I write our monthly newsletter, which takes a bit of time, and am involved in helping connect job seekers with employment opportunities. I also facilitate the local ICT cluster and gather information such as economic growth statistics, which are often sought after. We have a philosophy at Priority One that we will find whatever information people want, so if we don’t have it to hand immediately, we do some research and get back to them.

Why do you love your job/career?
I work with a great team in a very exciting and diverse environment – while some things take a while to come to fruition, new things happen every day. There is a lot of flexibility in our roles so if we think something is a good idea, we are nimble enough to be able to take advantage of opportunities. We make a lot of connections between people, so there is a real feeling that we are helping people, whether it be to find a job or get information or connect them with the right person. That is hugely rewarding.

How did you get into your career?
I was working for a consultant who specialised in economic development, public policy and strategy development and I was really enjoying the writing part of my role. The new position of projects administrator came up at Priority One and someone approached my colleague to see if she was interested. She read the job description and thought it would be a perfect fit for me – which it was. The funny thing was that I just had to walk across the road to apply for the role. I was also lucky enough to work for people that allowed me to grow the position, which evolved into the role I currently have.

What qualifications did you study?
My background as a personal assistant in business and local authority environments, in the days when you drafted or researched most of the correspondence, reports and speeches for your boss to sign off, has underpinned my career. The ability to communicate succinctly in business language has been the biggest advantage for me in my current role, as well as learning to write reports and undertake research as part of my university studies, which I did extramurally as an adult.

Do you have any advice for getting into your sector?
I think a big part of my role is communicating in a succinct manner. With all the ‘busyness’ in our inboxes and through social media these days, people don’t want to read screeds of information to get to the point. I try to communicate so that people will have a good idea of the purpose of my message when they read the subject line and will certainly know what I am communicating after the first sentence. This means that I tend to get a good response when I am seeking information from our business community and our communications are seen as purposeful and therefore respected.

What do you wish you had done differently?
My career has been quite a journey, but from where I am now, I don’t think I will have changed a thing. I learned a lot ‘on the job’ in the different business environments in which I have worked and also didn’t invest in tertiary study until I knew what I was interested in. I was also very lucky in my first role, which I entered as an office junior but quickly progressed to office manager. This encouraged me to take on new challenges and opportunities and helped me develop confidence in my skills and judgement.

What would you say to your teenage self about defining your future?
It is totally normal to not know what you want to do when you are a teenager. It’s really important that you try different things to see what fits with your strengths and interests, so you can find a role that you are passionate about. You spend too much time at work to be in a job you don’t find some enjoyment in. Because my parents were professional people, there was some disappointment I didn’t go straight to university, but that wasn’t right for me then. I wish I had known that some of my innate skills, for example, communication and social skills, could be as valuable to an employer as earning a degree, as well as attitudes such as wanting to provide great customer service and having a good work ethic. If you work in an area in which you are passionate, you will be passionate about your work even on days that don’t quite go to plan.

Title Communications & Project management

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See how Annie became a communications/projects manager

Annie Hill is Communications / Projects Manager for Priority One, our region's economic development agency.  How did she get there?  Get her career insights here…