Georgia Baker | Finding my Career Path in Tauranga as a Young Graduate
Recently arrived Tauranga local, Georgia Baker, grew up in Dunedin where she developed a love for writing, marketing, and music theatre. After graduating from Otago Unversity, she hot-footed it to London to immerse herself in the world of West End theatre. When her two-year visa expired, she moved to Auckland, where she landed a job managing the Juliette Hogan store in Ponsonby.
But, when her boyfriend got a contract with the Bay of Plenty Steamers, it was only a matter of time before Georgia traded in her weekend visits to Mount Maunganui and officially became a local herself. Moving to Tauranga has also proven to be a good career move for this young graduate, who is putting her education into action in a sales and marketing role at Modern Office.
Georgia, why did you choose to study at Otago University?
Growing up in Dunedin I got to see first-hand what student life was like, so I was pretty excited to study at Otago University. Most of my besties also continued their studies in Dunedin, which meant I had a great group of friends to live with in the iconic Dunedin flats with. I’ve always been a sucker for good marketing and branding, so it was a no-brainer to learn how to master it myself. I also love writing and media, so communications felt like a good match.
What was your experience of looking for marketing roles after graduating?
After graduating, I was desperate to travel and see the world. I have cousins who live in London. I’d always wanted to move there and do my two-year-visa ‘Kiwi in London’ thing, so I did. It was hard to secure a dream job in my field when I arrived. It’s such a big place and you are a small fish in a big pond. I registered with a recruitment agency and ended up doing a few different jobs while I was training at Associated Studios, a musical theatre school. I’ve always had a passion for musical theatre and when I was in Dunedin I performed in lots of shows. When I returned from London I decided to base myself in Auckland.
What was your transition from London to Auckland like?
I found the adjustment of moving back from London hard. I was unsure what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I nailed myself an amazing job, managing a Juliette Hogan store in Auckland and learnt lots about sales, retail, and the New Zealand fashion industry. I spent a year there and then my partner, Hugh (who I had met in London) had the opportunity to go to Scotland and play international Rugby Sevens. We decided this was a good opportunity for us to do some travel together. I was based in Edinburgh with Hugh from December 2017 to April 2018.
What drew you to Tauranga?
After Edinburgh, Hugh ended up getting a contract with the Bay of Plenty Steamers and moved to Tauranga. I would travel down from Auckland for weekends here and I absolutely loved being by the beach and the relaxed lifestyle. So, when the time was right, and I was sick of driving back and forth, I decided to make the move. As I grew up in Dunedin, I’m used to a slower-paced lifestyle and I actually love it! Being able to shoot down to the beach after work, go up the mount, and bike to the supermarket is amazing. Don’t get me wrong – I loved living in London and Auckland, but there is something really special and relaxing about living here.
What did you think moving to Tauranga would mean for your career?
I knew Tauranga was a small place that was rapidly growing, so I expected there would be plenty of opportunities and also that it would be a really great place to network and meet like minded people.
I found it difficult to find a job initially. It really helped being introduced to recruitment companies and people like Annie Hill at Priority One. Being fairly new to the corporate world, I really had to use those connections wisely. When I did get the chance to get in front of people I had to try and make an impact. People constantly told me, “it’s who you know in Tauranga”. It took me a while to understand that, but it really is. All it takes is an engaging conversation with one person for them to think of you if an opportunity pops up.
It really helps to prep well for interviews and not waste the opportunity. If you leave feeling positive about an interview it all seems worthwhile, even if you don’t get the job, or that job wasn’t right for you.
What was your first work opportunity in Tauranga?
I was introduced to Jen Scoular, CEO of New Zealand Avocado, and it just happened to be the right place, right time sort of thing. They were really busy in the communications/marketing team leading up to the international New Zealand Avocado conference. They hired me on a fixed-term contract, which was great exposure to the corporate scene here in Tauranga.
I loved learning about the horticulture industry here. I didn’t know very much going into it and left loving everything about it, including the people I met along the way. I think it’s an industry that needs to be talked about more, especially for anyone considering a move to the Bay of Plenty. I enjoyed being thrown in the deep end and learned so much from the team, especially Melissa Conrad, who took me under her wing while I was there.
How did your new role at Modern Office come about?
As my contract was coming to a close, I was actively keeping an eye on LinkedIn jobs and Seek. The position at Modern Office caught my eye as I always have had an interest in design, interiors, and architecture. It was a split between marketing and sales so seemed an exciting position that I could really use my skills and grow within the company.
What is your role and what do you love about it?
Modern Office is your office furniture experts. We like to work with people, be creative and be the best in the business. My role is Marketing and Sales Assistant. I get a good mix of social media, marketing strategy, and planning, and I also get to deal with customers. It’s a nice balance. I’m excited to learn more marketing skills and really grow in those aspects of my career. We also have two great directors that are really involved in the day-to-day running of the business, which makes working for them enjoyable. I can learn a lot from them and really understand their vision and goals for the business.
What has it been like making friends here?
I have found it really easy! It was great already knowing a few people prior to moving here. But it has also been nice to get out of my comfort zone and go out of my way to meet new people. I’ve found most people I meet are like-minded or have similar interests. I actually auditioned for a musical with Tauranga Musical Theatre as soon as I arrived, and finished my first show at the beginning of September. I played Heather Chandler in ‘Heather’. I met lots of great energetic people through that and I can’t wait to do another show.
What do you do for fun/to relax here?
Beach days, fishing, running, swimming, drinking coffee at Luca or George, walks up the mount, having dinner parties and BBQs at home, and going to the hot pools! We have a fishing long-line, and we love to spend afternoons and evenings down at the beach with fish and chips or wine and cheese. I remember being like a kid at Christmas the first time we caught some big snapper! I really want to learn to surf this summer too.
What has surprised you about Tauranga?
How easy it was to settle in and feel at home. There’s plenty going on for young people and lots of things in the pipeline, so it really excites me to see that change and development. It’s a small place, so it was easier to network than I thought…once you put your mind to it.
The sunsets are also the most amazing thing I have ever seen!! Such pink skies.
What would you say to other young professionals considering a move to Tauranga?
DO IT! If you’re someone that needs a good work/lifestyle balance then Tauranga is the place for you. You really get to make the most of your mornings and evenings with places like Mount Maunganui beach on your doorstep. The moment you leave work you can switch off and appreciate where you live.
What has moving to Tauranga meant:
For your career?
I’ve taken the first steps towards furthering my marketing career, learning more, and challenging myself and I’m excited to see what I can achieve.
For your wellbeing and work/life balance?
I can switch off after work and take time to do things that make me really happy.
For your relationships?
I’ve made lots of new friends since moving here and have felt very happy making the move with Hugh. I can see why this place makes people happy and relaxed.
Gets You Thinking Doesn’t It?
No one can tell you when you’re ready for a change of lifestyle…but when you are, we’d love to have you in Tauranga!
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