In one sentence, What's your employer doing and what's your area of responsibility?
At Xero, we're creating accounting software to help businesses do beautiful work. My role is to create and safeguard a trusted, stable, scalable, and reliable platform to support and power our Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success solutions and operations.
What are you doing day to day in your role? E.g. what's a typical day, week, or project of yours?
On a day to day basis, over and between barista standard cups of coffee, I am working closely with my team to get a good understanding of our day's work, our progress towards our goals, and ensuring the team has clear priorities and direction for our project(s) and are supported with all they need to do beautiful work. A typical day starts off with an early cup of coffee at work to get ready for the day, which kicks off with a standup meeting with the team where we outline our day's goals and always make time to catch up on non-work-related topics e.g. Sports, I have a sport-loving team. It's always good to take a break from work, so lunchtime is usually my gym or run time. After another cup of coffee, the day carries on where I am either getting stuck into some analysis and planning for a project, driving discussions with our cross-platform development teams for an ongoing and/or future project, supporting the team with resolving a customer reported the request or working with our external partners on key platform initiatives.
Where did you grow up? E.g. If you are Māori, are you affiliated with an Iwi or Hapu?
I was born and raised in Samoa in a small village called Siusega before I moved to New Zealand to complete my high school studies at the age of 14.
What would you say were the most important stages of your life? (school, work experience, people, etc)
I would say one of the most important stages of my life is when I moved to New Zealand from Samoa at the age of 14. It was a culture shock to me, going straight into a boarding school, where English was spoken daily - this among other things was very foreign to me and added to how homesick I grew. Thinking back to it, although it was a tough first few months getting used to a new environment, it helped me grow into the person I am today, especially being able to cope and manage changes whether its work or personal, and the opportunities it provided me to understand other cultures, build life-long friendships and learn new things!
How did you get to your current job position and how long have you been in the role?
I have been working at Xero for over 4 years now. I grew into my current position after a few years in Business Analyst and Product Owner positions in my team. When the opportunity presented to grow myself in another area of expertise in the team, I put myself forward for the role.
Is there any other personal information you're happy to share that has shaped you/your life journey?
My mother, I'd say instilled in me values I carry with me and has shaped who I am today. I bring these values to work, through how I ensure my team is taken care of and supported to do the greatest work of their lives - aligned with a value we at Xero call being #Human
If someone wants to do the same thing that you're currently doing, would that be possible if they're studying a different qualification/degree to you?
Yes - It's definitely beneficial to study a qualification specific to your career aspirations. From experience, however, I have met more people in my line of work that did not study a degree specifically related to the IT industry than those that did. My advice would be, pursue the degree you feel best fits your career aspirations and if you find you're interested in something else (this happens a lot) whether it's during your studies or when you're in the workforce then it's ok - it's ok to take a step back and reevaluate your goals and plan your next steps to get to your next goal or dream job.
What characteristics and/or skills would someone need to get into your line of work?
Leadership is a big part of my role. Both in terms of leading delivery of projects but also leading your team members, ensuring they're supported and inspired to do beautiful work. Technical expertise is important, understanding the products or platforms you work on a technical level is as important as understanding it from a user/business perspective. This helps with making effective technical decisions with your team and also supports with making sure you're creating fit-for-purpose solutions/software.
What do you love most about your job?
Working with people of different backgrounds and expertise to solve problems and pursue opportunities - this is what I enjoy the most about my job. Every day, I work with and learn from my team members and wider team - all while working towards achieving our goals as a team and building good friendships and working relationships. This is made better by the amazing collaborative and open culture we have at Xero.
3 pieces of advice for students