From Operations Director in Ireland to recruitment in NZ

victoria marshall

Victoria joined Robert Walters New Zealand as a recruitment consultant in 2016. Previously, she worked for a consultancy in Belfast as an Operations Director where she managed five large government funded projects to stimulate the Northern Ireland economy.

My move to New Zealand

I’d been to New Zealand before and loved it. I was drawn to the possibility of having that city lifestyle combined with nature’s beauty on your doorstep. I wanted to do something different and not go where everyone else goes. New Zealand is a combination of beaches and mountains, all rolled into one big ball of awesomeness! The quality of life here is great. The market is growing which presents many opportunities for earnings and career progression.

I got to the stage that it was ‘now or never’. I needed to make sure it was a good career move with a structured path and increased opportunities. 

Robert Walters made the transition easy and taught me about long-term relationship building, understanding client needs and offering strategic outcomes. 

The challenges 

It was difficult when I got on the plane. I was a bit older than your typical backpacker, I wasn’t walking away from a cheap flat and a bad job - I was leaving my own home and a good job. I sold everything and left. Thankfully, it all worked out and I was so glad I took the gamble. It wasn’t overly hard to settle. One of positives about being in New Zealand is that the time difference is 12 or 13 hours ahead of the UK so it’s easy to catch up with the family.  

Some big surprises 

Cost of living - I was struck by the cost of things initially but I wasn’t expecting the salaries to be so high compared to the UK. You’re not taking a step back in your career by coming out here and you’ll improve your lifestyle. If I was back home I wouldn’t be in as good of a position. I feel like I have more opportunity here, my skills are more highly valued and I’m paid better for it.

My skills - It’s a candidate short market so skilled professionals are in demand. I was able to achieve faster career progression and wasn’t pigeon holed by my previous experience. I was surprised by how well my experience was received and how transferable my skills were.  

Working at Robert Walters 

When I started I couldn’t believe how well structured the recruitment process was. The office environment itself was relaxed, open and friendly. Everyone was genuinely interested in supporting me.  The team took time to teach me the ropes and were patient since it was all new to me. 

Because Robert Walters is a large recruitment consultancy, I thought it was going to be a ‘dog eat dog’ workplace. I’d come from a similar environment to that and left because we were under a huge amount of pressure. 

Coming back to a large corporate environment was daunting. My perception was skewed but it turned out to be totally different from previous organisations I’d worked for. It’s a social office where people hang out outside of work which is so important when you’re away from home. 

My top tips for a successful career move

1. Let go of your career misconceptions

From living in the UK, we can be very risk adverse. We tend to have misconceptions about the job market thinking it’s not as buoyant as it is in the UK. There’s a “don’t leave a job without something else to go to” mentality. In the space of a few days of arriving in New Zealand, I was at final stages of interviewing for a Consultant role at Robert Walters which offered me a clear career path. I now manage a profitable team of four and love the variety and satisfaction I get from my role.

2. Do your research before you move over

Check out TradeMe before you head over – It helped me figure out what I would need to budget for accommodation. Everyone in New Zealand uses it, not just people moving over. If you’re looking for a place to live, choose somewhere on the train and bus lines. Ponsonby, Mt Eden, New Market or Grey Lynn are great suburbs in Auckland. 

3. Just give it a go

Don’t be afraid to take the leap and do it – you could procrastinate forever. I started thinking about moving when I was 26 and it took me 5 years to do it. There was always some reason not to do it but I was going to lose the opportunity if I didn’t get on with it. 

I love the work-life balance here. I can go from a high energy commercial environment during the week to relaxing at a winery on the weekend – there’s not many cities in the world you can say that about. 

I can have a corporate lifestyle, working for a large company where I’m involved in strategic decisions then jump in the car and be in a really remote place on a Friday evening after work. Everything’s a drive away. You can literally have the best of both worlds.  People are so much more positive in New Zealand and it’s more relaxed. 

If you'd like to join our journey, please send your up-to-date CV to Jess Allan: jess.allan@robertwalters.com.

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