Quickfire: the year that was ....

Quickfire: the year that was ....

Eight General Counsels on their highs and lows of 2020

Helen White - Head of Legal Services, Christchurch City Council

What are your highlights and lowlights from 2020?

Finishing my Master’s thesis is my highlight – the relief once it was submitted!  

The soul sapping experience of the penultimate draft of my Master’s thesis – definitely a lowlight!

What have your learned about yourself this year?

I am not a natural academic.

What are you most looking forward to over the holidays?

Not wearing heels.

What is your go-to stress reliever that has helped this year?

Laughing!   I recommend “No such thing as a fish’ podcast.  By the QI team. Hilarious! Check out the one with Rhys Darby as a guest when he is in MIQ. I was in tears with laughter!

In hindsight what would you have done differently in 2020?

Been kinder to myself during lockdown.

 

Rachel Young - Group Legal Counsel, NZ Post

What are you most looking forward to over the holidays?

Pootling about the beautiful Wairarapa countryside on my made-for-pootling bicycle.

Who or what has inspired you recently?

NZ Post's frontline people are doing an incredible job delivering to New Zealanders during our busiest time of the year - at the end of a year of unprecedented increases in parcel volumes and Covid-related challenges.

In hindsight what would you have done differently in 2020?

Invested in a good quality home office chair!

 

Tom Lane – Coca Cola Amatil

What are your highlights and lowlights from 2020?

Lowlight was the isolation caused by lockdown, and the challenges this created for a number of our people.

The highlight of the year was seeing the way Amatil rallied around its people – keeping our people safe and engaged, recognised by being awarded ‘Best Employer’ status for the fifth year in a row.

Source of inspiration:

I have a quote on my wall from Harrison Storms, an aeronautical engineer who was involved in the X15 and Apollo projects. It reads “work with thoughtful courage, don’t be blinded by fearful safety”. Words for inhouse counsel to live by – particularly in 2020.

Go-to stress reliever:

Learning to fly fish isn’t so much a stress reliever as a different source of stress, but they say change is as good as a rest…

 

Deb Blackett – Z Energy

What are your highlights and lowlights from 2020?

Highlights included working in a business where the engagement scored went up during the COVID-19 crisis because of the capacity of the Z team to strongly live the Z values; to lead a team that had to pivot pretty dramatically and work with urgency on an unplanned capital raise, crisis management etc. All of Z legal were nominated for various Z awards which speaks of the value the team adds to the drive of Z Legal to realise commercial and strategy outcomes.

I share COVID-19 lowlights with many others but a personal lowlight was sneaking out of a conference to go shopping in High Street and ending up in 14 days isolation because I talked to a retail assistant who later tested positive for COVID-19. Shopping was always going to get me sooner or later.

What have your learned about yourself this year?

What I have learned about myself this year is the ability to choose how to frame and react to external circumstances, rather than being owned by those circumstances. This is basically mindfulness but as a leader it also means an intentional practice of reframing those circumstances for others – for example, as above, while working through COVID-19 was challenging, our team also focused on the fact that we all did something new and challenging and were in a lucky position to have safe and hugely interesting work.

What is your go-to stress reliever that has helped this year?

Stress relievers for me are a balanced combination of meditation and gin.

 

Sarah Gillies  - Electricity Authority

What are you most looking forward to over the holidays? 

Time with family and friends and a break from the emails!

What is your go-to stress reliever that has helped this year?

No one thing, but a combination of exercise, meditation (shout out to the Headspace app), yoga and hanging out with friends and family (virtually at times).

David Knight, Transpower

What are you most looking forward to over the holidays?

Like many others, I am looking forward to spending time with family, eating and drinking too much, and dipping into the ocean as much as possible. I usually don’t shave over the holiday break and it is always interesting to see how much more grey has grown into my beard since last year.

What is your go-to stress reliever that has helped this year?

I am a keen basketball player, even at my increasingly advanced age where my body thanks me less and less for that sort of activity. I find if I don’t get my weekly fix of hoop time I get irritable and the stresses of the week build up. There nothing for relieving stress like playing with abandon and not thinking about work or anything else for an hour or so.

Who or what has inspired you recently?

I was inspired by the richness, oratory and passion behind the maiden speeches of the two Maori Party MPs in Parliament. Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi delivered powerful messages on colonialism and Te Ao Maori that not only we can learn from now, but that will resonate long past this parliamentary term.  Ones to watch.

Ann Brennan - MBIE

What are your highlights and lowlights from 2020?

Our team provides legal, ethics and integrity and privacy services across the broad and diverse range of MBIE functions. This year this work expanded to include supporting the All of Government response to COVID and responsibility for managed isolation quarantine as well as participating in activity following the Christchurch Mosque Attacks and the Whakaari/White Island eruption. 

While it’s been a challenging year with novel problems requiring quick solutions in uncertain contexts we really have felt privileged to be able to support work that makes such a difference to New Zealanders.

It has been a weird year though and, frankly, at times we have wanted to fast forward to 2021. So last week we took some time together to reflect on what we had achieved this year and I was blown away - in no time at all there were over 250 post it notes on the wall.

But, proud as I am of all these achievements, the standout highlight for me has been the way the team has behaved and the values they have demonstrated. The caring, collegial and grounded culture of people who were willing to do whatever was needed to a high standard while having each other’s back gave the team the ability to flex and respond to meet unpredictable and unprecedented needs.

As for lowlights, while it’s been necessary, I’ve been a bit sad about having to de-prioritise our Change Programme of improvement activity this year. And finding myself confined to close quarters in a lockdown of one after I was identified as a close contact of a fellow traveller who tested positive for COVID was less fun than you’d think!

Who or what has inspired you recently?

We’ve been thinking a lot about inclusion and diversity and trying to increase our cultural competence. Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban came and talked to our team recently and her energy, vision and aspirations for Pasifika (including much needed increased representation in the legal profession) was a true inspiration.

 

Tim Power - KCDC

What are your highlights and lowlights from 2020?

Highlight: lockdown has provided us the opportunity to showcase our resilience, and our ability to adapt and pivot to reflect the new environment we live in now.

Lowlight: trying to mediate amongst family members all trying to make compelling cases for use of bandwidth during lockdown

What are you most looking forward to over the holidays?

Chance to unwind with the family and explore some new parts of New Zealand.

Who or what has inspired you recently?

The constant good news stories of struggling businesses supporting each other.  It is is always easy to find someone worse off than yourself