Are you surrounding yourself with radiators or drainers?

Types of people

Every year as winter lands on us, we start the winter routine of cranking up the radiators to keep us warm at night and ensuring the drains are unblocked of leaves to ensure the rain drains away.

One wise person once told me to surround yourself with people who are radiators and distance yourself from drainers. Radiators glow with happiness and bring out the good things in life, and the drainers, well they do the opposite – they bring you down and drain life out of those around them. So as winter is now upon us, and you have started your winter routines, how about also taking a look at who are the radiators and drainers in your life.

No matter whether you are on the job hunt, looking to take on more responsibilities in your role or have other life or relationship goals that you want to achieve, you will want to lean on friends and colleagues. However if these friends or colleagues are the drainer type, they will most probably pull you down or even stop you achieving these things. I’m not saying to necessarily completely remove these people from your lives, as sometimes they will give you a worthwhile reality check, but they can be detrimental to your success. Instead, you need to actively surround yourself with radiators. People who will pick you up, encourage you and support you towards reaching your goals.

If you are unsure whether someone is a radiator or drainer consider this:

  • When spending time with them do you find yourself speaking negatively about yourself? Do you find yourself saying more passive phrases such as ‘I will try or ‘I don’t know if I can’?
  • Are they big moaners who generally look at things from the glass is half-empty approach?
  • Do they support you and celebrate your successes?
    Do they make you feel energised?
  • Do they make you feel positive?
  • Do they inspire you to achieve your goals

How do your friends and colleagues see you?

As well as looking at whether you are surrounding yourself with drainers, it is important to consider whether you are at risk of becoming one or viewed as one through association. In the office, you don’t want to hang around with the disengaged employees who hate their jobs, bosses and the company itself, as other employees will associate you as being one of them. Also spending time with these types of people will most likely turn you into one of them.

So as you get into your winter routines take some time to assess who you surround yourself with and perhaps it’s time to clear out those drains and find a couple of great new radiators.


This blog post was originally posted on the Potentia blog.


Pushing past the ‘sugar coating’ to determine a company’s true culture

Office Safari

You are so fantastic that everybody wants you! Now it’s time to be a bit selective – do you really want to work for them, yes it may be your dream role, but is the culture right for you? After all, it’s imperative to know whether they will appreciate your encouragement of staff to take up the next desk safari challenge.

On a more serious note, it can be hard to determine what a company culture is like, and culture can make or break a job as well as influencing your confidence and drive. When interviewing, your potential new employer (like you), they will put on their best game face. This means that you often won’t get a true sense of the culture in the workplace.

So how can you judge the culture of a potential employer and whether they like office pranks and desk safari challenges before signing on the dotted line? Workplace culture is extremely important to me as I’ve worked for the brilliant, the good, and the ugly – the difference it’s made to my performance and enjoyment is huge. So along the way I’ve devised the following strategies and questioning to help gain an insight into what a company’s culture is like:

  1. Look up company review websites, which feature reviews and ratings by current and former employees. One company review website, which is growing in popularity in New Zealand is Glassdoor.
  2. Check out the company’s social media accounts (and if you can current employees). Look out for what’s going on, if they have fun and if there are any an indicators of what it’s like to work at the company. Several years ago when interviewing for a contract, I noticed the director’s PA had tweeted saying “Ops I just spilt my coffee all over my boss #fail”. I slid this into a conversation in my interview, which to my luck generated a great conversation that not only gave me an insight into how she reacts to situations but also taught me how she interacted with colleagues and those she managed.
  3. Is there a social hierarchy? Find out whether the CEO and managers socialise, meet and connect with people outside of their team. Do they treat staff as an equal regardless of age, position or title?
  4. Ask to meet some of the team members/employees (especially if you are going to be managing a person or team). If the company wants to ensure you are the right fit for the team, they should welcome this request or already have it as part of their recruiting process. Ideally, when you meet it will be in a relaxed environment over a coffee or drink. You are more likely to receive an honest response from team members rather than those who are interviewing you, so it is worthwhile. At my current workplace, we have a peer review process, which involves the potential new employee going out for a casual drink with three or four of us (employees). Not only does that mean that we get to assess if they are right for us and our culture, but whether they see themselves fitting in.
  5. Ask in your interview what the company culture is like. I always ask this question and when I do, I am looking for two things in their answer. First, I want to know how employees work together and support each other. Next, I want to know if employees are sociable and if the company puts some effort into bringing everyone together as a team. Of course, it is unlikely that they will say something negative, however if they answer enthusiastically and spend a decent amount of time describing the culture, it’s likely they like the culture themselves. For bonus points, you could also consider asking, “why did the last couple of people leave?”
  6. Ask your interviewer what do they personally like about the culture, as well as what it’s like compared to the last place they worked at. This will give you a baseline to help understand their view on the company’s culture.
  7. What happens when someone makes a mistake? Are individuals able to learn from their mistakes or are they crucified the first time they make one or something goes wrong? We’re all human after all and things don’t always go to plan.
  8. What is the busiest time of the year or quarter? This will let you know whether they are always busy and perhaps overworked. Take note whether people work together at these busy times and if they are collaborative.
  9. Look out for humour and laughter. When you arrive at the office and while in the interview look out for laughter and humour.
  10. The good and bad statements staff make. Ask what is the most common “great” statement said by staff about the company, and on the flip side, what is the worst complaint heard regularly in the office? Amusingly the most common complaint I’ve heard at my workplace is that one certain colleague keeps leaving half a banana in the fruit bowl!

Finally remember here in NZ we pretty much live in the land of two degrees of separation so do ask your network if they know what the culture is like. There is always a good chance someone will know of someone who can give you their thoughts (although make sure you gain an insight into the context of their opinion to measure its worth).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on your best method of determining the culture of a potential employer?


This blog post was originally posted on the Potentia blog.

My advice for Kiwi and expat marketers wanting to work in London


I was recently contacted by a marketing graduate in New Zealand about coming to London, United Kingdom to work in Marketing, so I thought I might as well share my experience to other Kiwi/Expat marketers considering moving to London and seeking work.

To start off, if you want to do well in London, I would recommend getting experience before moving to the UK. It is not an easy job market for most and it is an even harder environment for a graduate. While I was in London I met several European graduates whose parents paid for them to go to London to do 6 to 8 month unpaid internships. So as you can imagine it’s not the easiest for a graduate without well off parents to support them while they do an unpaid internship!

Up skill and do your research before heading to the UK

It is good to know what part of marketing you prefer and research what recruiters are looking for in candidates in those types of roles. I worked in all rounded marketing roles before moving to the UK, however in all my roles I made an extra effort on focusing on improving the CRM and digital aspects of the businesses i.e. email marketing, social media, web/SEO and customer journeys. I learnt basic html coding skills at university and then self-taught email specific coding and best practices – this is what helped me stand out to recruiters and secure roles.

Before moving to the UK I went to a Global Career Link seminar where they told me all about the job market, life in the UK and what to expect. Following the seminar I was put in touch with one of their staff members who helped me tailor my CV to the UK job market. They also set realistic expectations on what type of role I could potentially get and what type of pay I would be looking at. Depending on what experience you have they can also set up interviews with recruiters for you when you arrive.

Will finding a job be easy?

Many people think getting a job in London will be easy. Unless you get lucky most people will need to put in a bit of work especially to secure their first job.

First, I would recommend building strong relationships with recruiters as most roles are recruited through agencies rather than direct (especially if you are after contract work).

Next network as much as you can and keep on top of the latest jobs as if you wait for the closing date your CV probably won’t get looked at.

A few good digital resources

If you enjoy digital marketing I would learn a bit of html and sign up to email newsletters that will help teach you the latest research and findings in the marketplace A few of my favourites are Jericho Smartmail (NZ email provider) have great newsletters , econsultancy, Sticky Content (writing for digital) and Smartbrief (daily email on any topic – the social media and career ones are great) . I can recommend others if there are particular areas you want to keep up to speed with. In addition, Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to learn off others, ask questions and sometimes find jobs. Recruiters use LinkedIn quite a lot in the UK and I was approached about several jobs through LinkedIn based on recruiters seeing my profile and experience on LinkedIn.

Finally, I absolutely loved working in London and would highly recommend at least giving it a go. If you have any specific questions I am happy to help out if I can, otherwise check out the websites that I mentioned above and good luck!

“Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiselling and scraping and polishing.” BC Forbes

*Disclaimer: these are just my thoughts and opinions from my experiences so please don’t take everything as gospel!


Is it possible to separate your personal life and work life on social networks like LinkedIn?


Many individuals join professional social networks like LinkedIn for their own professional development rather than as brand ambassadors for their work.

Over the last year I have engaged with many people on social media platforms and have found it hard to separate the two on some networks such as LinkedIn. In my last position for a membership organisation, I often was personally contacted on LinkedIn and Twitter about the organisation. This led me to think about how, if I should or if I even could separate work from play.

Like many people I know I initially joined LinkedIn for my professional development and to keep in touch with contacts who I have met through networking, events and work. At first I wasn’t too sure what I thought of people contacting me directly about my work seeking more information. But it made sense as people like dealing with people who they can put a face and name to. Inevitably if you work in marketing and are doing your job properly you will probably end up becoming a brand ambassador whether you like it or not. If you do not want to be a brand ambassador for your company then perhaps you should rethink what and who you should work for.

With the explosion of social media not only the marketing team and stakeholders need to be brand advocates – all employees need to be as well. Employers also have to take care in making sure all staff will represent their brand in the right light or at the least don’t do the opposite. This does not mean that every employee has to be out there promoting the brand and company through their social networks, but that they should at least know how to respond and act. For example, if an individual asks for information about their workplace via LinkedIn employees should know how to respond and direct them to the right person who can help in their organisation.

Ultimately, my active use of social media over the years for work and play has highlighted how important it is to become a brand ambassador for my work. To me, this can only be done if I am passionate and believe in the organisation I work for. This is now a key factor in my job hunt for my next London marketing role!

I am interested to hear whether you have had the same experience and/or whether you have chosen to keep the two separate?