Ilse Skead | A New Start at Stratus Blue in Tauranga
In 2016, Ilse Skead and her husband Kevin made the difficult decision to leave South Africa.
The couple wanted to provide a secure future for their daughter, and New Zealand beckoned. Kevin quickly landed an IT role in Tauranga. However, with the complications that come with work visas, Ilse had a challenging six months getting her foot in the door of the Tauranga IT industry – despite her strong career history and the city’s growth.
After making some good connections, she is pleased to have become part of the team at Stratus Blue – a key technology support company in Tauranga’s growing tech sector. Ilse is enjoying the supportive company culture and new opportunities to learn and grow.
This is her story.
llse, where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in a town called Springs in Johannesburg, South Africa. When I was 19, I moved to Centurion, Pretoria where I lived for the next 14 years. In that timeframe I got married, we built a home, and were blessed with a beautiful girl.
Can you tell us your career story?
My career began with a one-year, CompTIA A+ qualification in 1999 in Johannesburg. My first job was as a junior system engineer. I was outsourced to a customer, where I picked up tricks of the trade from senior engineers there. In 2002, I moved on to a company with two international branches, one in Atlanta, America, and the other in Melbourne, Australia. I became an Oracle DBA & Product Specialist and traveled the world implementing infrastructures, product installations, and databases. In 2014, I decided to move back into the corporate world. I focused on customer relations and ran the development lab’s data center for Professional Services.
What brought you and your family to New Zealand?
In 2016, we made a very difficult decision to begin a new adventure and chapter in our lives by moving to New Zealand. We wanted to provide a secure future for our daughter. This, of course, meant saying goodbye to friends and family. Our vision was to have the flexibility to enjoy life and work, to adapt to new opportunities, and to make New Zealand our new permanent home.
How did Tauranga end up on your radar?
Kevin, my husband who also works in the IT industry, was the first to travel to New Zealand in July 2017 to visit and look for work. A few weeks into his visit Kevin traveled to Tauranga and Auckland for interviews. By the middle of August, Kevin had secured work for the Skead family at one of New Zealand’s largest IT Service providers, as a Senior Service Delivery Manager. We moved to Tauranga in 2017.
What was it like for you to find work in Tauranga?
It was difficult. I was on a work visa and I had no New Zealand work experience behind me to leverage off. Although there were job listings on all the different recruitment platforms, I got declined for most of them. After job hunting for over six months with not one interview lined up, I started expanding my job search to include Auckland and Hamilton. I came to realize it is not what you know it is who you know and my social networks were limited then.
Then Beyond Recruitment came along and the manner with which they handled my profile and assisted me in finding work was a breath of fresh air. It was the vibrant recruiter I worked with who secured the interview with Stratus Blue for me.
Can you describe your role as Support Administrator and Engineer at Stratus Blue?
My role in this position is to be a helpdesk coordinator ensuring all customer incidents get logged and assigned to engineers. I schedule the engineers’ onsite time with customers. My daily tasks are to ensure our customers are kept in the loop, where needed. I also complete domain and license renewals. I am the first contact for Stratus Blue Support Centre.
While in this role I was asked if I could also become Sales Support and Contract Administrator. This involves assisting the account manager with quotes, purchases, posting invoices, working with contracts and SLA’s.
What do you enjoy about the role?
I enjoy learning about who the customers are and what makes their business tick. Best of all, no day is the same. There is always a challenge, new things to learn and opportunities to grow.
What is Stratus Blue like as a company to work for?
I enjoy the way everyone works together as a team and their willingness to help each other. We have the support and backing of the senior management team. Recognition is given where needed. I enjoy the humor in the office, how each colleague enjoys joking around, and the respect shown to one another.
What advice would you give to other tech professionals considering moving to Tauranga?
Tauranga is still growing. There are lots of opportunities and potential growth in this region. It is all about networking. It is really good if you can be part of a networking group to get your name out there and see what is out there on market. Do your homework to see what careers are currently being advertised in your field.
What has been like for you settling into Tauranga?
We have settled in and are enjoying Papamoa Beach. Our next step is to get into the property market.
Settling in took some time. It takes time to find your way around and learn the way things get done here. Our daughter adapted very well – with school, making friends, and learning the lingo. Personally, meeting people and making new friends was my greatest fear. I worried that people would think, “ah not another immigrant”. It did not turn out that way in the end. We made friends with our neighbors, through work and with the parents of our daughter’s friends. We joined Tauranga Elim Church.
We have made friends who support us when we need it most. They are like family to us now.
What do you love about living and working in Tauranga?
The weather, outdoor activities, and how central it is to surrounding areas. We enjoy the outdoor living, fishing on our boat, catching up with close friends, and enjoying the different activities this country has to offer.
What has moving to Tauranga meant:
For your career? It has allowed me to enter the local IT market with Stratus Blue, for which I am truly grateful as it was a tough market getting into. I am totally one of the team and am enjoying it. I feel at home
For your wellbeing? Living here has shown me that you can have a work-life balance. I have been able to attend my daughter’s school activities. As a family, we enjoy walking on the beach to relax after work and school. Getting a job and contributing to the family income meant a lot to me. It removed that unwanted worry.
For your relationships? The move has made us stronger as individuals, as couples, and as a family. Missing our family back home is tough at times, but with today’s technologies, we can stay in contact more frequently and share our experiences with them. We are grateful to have friends we can rely on when needed and vs versa.
Ready for a Change?
Thinking of moving to Tauranga someday?
Take the first steps now.