#storytellerjewels This week, I have the pleasure of talking with Teresa Pollard from New Zealand. Listen in as Teresa talks about the importance of curiosity when being a mentor,
Teresa Pollard Yeah, at the grassroots level. What’s most important this? Are you curious enough to want to learn about someone else? Are you curious enough to ask different questions to help you realise that this isn’t just a one way exercise? Mentorship is a two way exercise for both of you to learn from each other, but just that happens at one. You know, one person is in one position, don’t mean a title, but there in one position in one place in their life and another one and another. And so it’s a combination of those things.
#storytellerjewels In today’s episode, I’m excited to chat with Teresa Pollard. Teresa is a purpose lead leader with an entrepreneurial focus and 20 years in sales, marketing and technology, leading executive engagements and diverse teams in New Zealand, Singapore and New York. Teresa is from Auckland, is of Maori descent and as a proud role model for young people across the country to follow a pathway that is both fulfilling and prosperous and encourages them to join the world of business and technology. Teresa leads the Strategic Partnerships Portfolio for Datacom, bringing together a community EWe and ecosystem partnerships that deliver impact and alignment to datacoms, Purpose and values. Datacom is New Zealand’s largest technology services company, with over 6500 staff across New Zealand, Australia and Asia. Teresa, welcome to the show.
Teresa Pollard Thank you and Kia Ora to everyone. Pleasure to be here.
#storytellerjewels Teresa, you’ve been in various sales roles and leadership in the technology realm for some time. How did that storyline start for you?
Teresa Pollard Um, in fact, it started actually by accident. I’ve done the kind of normal thing right after school. I went to a university, did my commerce degree worked on the help desk at university doing some odd jobs and bits and bobs, um, and really enjoyed that finished my degree in business, which was a marketing and brand management, and then I kind of took a bit of a weird pivot at that stage where I am. I went to work at one of the biggest hospitals in Auckland Middle More Hospital for my summer job, and that was working in emergency, helping out with administration and things behind the emergency counter, which at that stage was behind a huge cage because they had so much violence and things kind of going on that they had to protect the stuff. And so you had to work behind a big cage, which was, which is interesting experience. So I worked there for a few months and I saw some pretty, uh, pretty hard to deal with things, to be honest for families and Fano across New Zealand and then as a result of that, got to know the doctors and the nurses. Obviously, through the work that I did and they said to me, you should apply for medicine And I was like, What? I hadn’t really kind of thought about medicine. Um, so, yeah, I kind of went through that process and then got accepted to medical school at Auckland. Um, and I’ve, you know, done a science degree and all the premiers and all the rest of it to kind of get accepted and then went to medical school and did that for a few years and then, um had a bit of a family episode where one of my family got sick. Um, during that time and, you know, I just kind of lost the whole world for it, to be honest, um, and I kind of finished up halfway through. So at that stage, I had obviously done my commerce degree as well. And a friend of mine has said to me, Hey, why don’t you come and join us? Um, Konica Minolta. I kind of worked in and marketing at the time when I was kind of younger and then into Fuji, Xerox and sales, and I just went okay, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, to be honest, Um so I kind of went into that. And then from then on, I just found it very easy. I didn’t find it a struggle at all and did that for a couple of years and then got selected for an international executive training programme in Asia. And that’s kind of how I ended up in Singapore, leading teams up there across the Singapore office and then right across the Asia. Um and then my husband in Singapore is from England, And then we made ourselves over to New York because he got a vital role in Manhattan. So we went to live there for a couple of years, which was very hard, of course, to live in Manhattan’s challenge. But you know, someone’s gonna do it. And then I ran teams out of New York, and it’s kind of how has kind of happened from then on, to be honest and just kind of found my love for technology, for my love, for sales and marketing and really kind of leading strong, trusted strategic relationships basically, and that’s kind of how I found my way to want to do now.
#storytellerjewels So you’re in strategic partnerships now, But that seems like a bit of a pivot away from sales. Why the change now?
Teresa Pollard Well, in the last couple of years, I kinda I pivoted away a little. When I joined Datacom, I went to run the professional services teams across the our regional offices, and that’s kind of looking at everything from, you know, software development to all the kind of professional services and technology you can think of. So around that for the first kind of year or so, and then I got asked to run all service lines and teams for our North Island business. So I did that last year through lockdown as well, which was interesting challenge. There was a, um, the big team across that running all of our business there, and then that was based. That role is based in our region, so I kind of travelled a lot every single week. I travelled for a good six or seven month period, so that kind of, you know, had its toll on things. And my husband and our family wanted to stay living in the city in Auckland. So I decided that it would be best for me to do another role and talk to our leadership about strategic partnerships and some of the gaps that I saw around really trying to balance that narrative of who we are as a company where we’re going, our purpose and our alignment, and how that narrative really fits very squarely incented in our sales narrative, right and how we engage with our customers from a sales and customer perspective. So that’s kind of how I kind of fell into the future partnerships itself. Really, Because I understand sales so well, and, um, I sit kind of in this weird position between kind of sales and marketing at the moment. So I kind of have a bit of a bridge across both. I can help us really look at partnerships in a really distinct way and how we can bring those partnerships to help us alone closer to our most strategic customers, because they really care about these partnerships as well. And they really care about impact. And they really care about working together to collectivised impact together. So that’s kind of what I do now. I said, not only on this e s g thing that people kind of talk about, which usually sits on the side of an organisation kind of off on the wing. I’ve taken that wing and kind of broader deep front and centre into ourselves and marketing organisation to make sure that they understand these things. And not only as we sell things, but we understand. We listen, we learn, we ask the right questions were curious to understand a border state of kpi s and goals for our customers to help us really in bed. Why technology? All the things that we sell a data com um, good for them to purchase. Not only, but also how can we balance that? We’re driving impact at the same time. So that’s kind of I bring both together.
#storytellerjewels I’ll come back to the word you use there a couple of times impact. But you also hold a number of board member and advisory type positions. And what stands out a bit for me is your drive to mentor and educate young people. But the one that caught my eye was the work that you do with take two with people in the prison system. Can you tell me about that and why you’re part of that?
Teresa Pollard Yes, a little bit about Take two. They are. So they’re the kind of New Zealand subsidiary. It’s an international organisation, actually has run under a couple of different names, but started in the US and the UK and, um was a group of people were very focused on second chances for those who have made, you know, bad choices at one stage of their life. And they have been incarcerated as a result of that, making sure that they have another chance right to be successful and prosperous in our communities. Um, I think We also have a vested interest in making sure that, you know, we don’t just throw away the key for everyone, Um, that there’s an opportunity for those to reintegrate back into society in a really meaningful way. So I learned about take two, maybe three years ago or so with Cameron, who’s the c e really young guy who was who was on his pathway to become an investment banker. In fact, very, very smart and very, very capable and decided to pivot away from there and lead this organisation led on purpose, which is an amazing inspiration in itself. Actually, um and so now there’s a team of us that have helped him to kind of stand up, Um, this service within one of the major prisons in south Auckland, um, South Auckland, Corrections. And we’ve had a programme running in the air for the last. It’s been live for about a year now reported by the New Zealand Corrections Agency as well and full support of it, which is amazing, and we teach me in there how to do. We’ve designed how to do basic software engineering and coding within the prison itself and helping to prepare these men for what it will be like on the outside to take a meaningful job, right? Something that’s more higher paid, hire, highly skilled and sought after to give them much more opportunities. So, yeah, that’s been something that I am very, very proud of. And I’m honoured to work to support, um, that initiative and I’ve met those men. I’ve been into the prison. I’ve sat with them. I’ve listened to their stories, I understand where they’ve come from and, you know, just to listen to these men and understand where they’ve come from Of the 10 men there, and there’s only one of them has ever had a job before, they’ve just been raised and very challenging environments, right? Without role models, without the right care, they’ve never Most of them never been supported or told that they were good enough ever in their whole life. And we’ve got men here that are, you know, age 20 right up to 45. But when you talk to them, there’s no fear. There a lot of vulnerability, right? A lot of a lot of ripping back the onion, a lot of realisation of who they are and a choice that they made but are really humbleness to really see that there’s others in society who really want to support them, who want them, want to see them become successful and to be reconnected with their families. Their far no, in a really, um, impactful way. So, yeah, we’re about to scale that up is getting such good support. We’re putting a second classroom into the corrections facility. We’re looking to scale that across the country. I’m willing to do community delivery of technology labs in the community to help service, you know, work on projects for employers. Um and Datacom itself have been a huge supporter in the leadership at Datacom have been amazing. And we’re going to, um, there’s us and a few others large Corporates in New Zealand who are going to take the first cohort of interns from the prison into the companies and help them reintegrate back into working, which will be amazing.
#storytellerjewels It sounds like an amazing initiative and kudos to you and to the team doing that to be a mentor, to be a good mentor. As you say, You sort of involves a bit of listening. So hearing people’s story peeling back the layers, as you say, and just finding where those sort of root causes are. And then often part of that process is sort of reflecting back on your own life. And you know, the stories that sort of evolved through your eyes and reflecting that back with them and helping them along their path. And so stories are often a big way to or a great tool to actually use to explain an idea or a concept. How important is storytelling to you? Um, and is it a tool that you use purposefully accidentally? Um, and what does that look like for you?
Teresa Pollard It’s interesting, actually, because, um, and in the beginning of when I started kind of doing mentoring and going around talking at schools and talking lots of, you know, in front of different groups, it was kind of accidental, to be honest, because I would you know, obviously, if my story is my story right on how I kind of came to be where I am today. And I do adapt that in different ways, based on, you know, the audience and what I think is going to be helpful for them. Um and key points that I think would be good takeaways. But a lot of that storytelling I have learned to do well and even better by listening more to others and really understanding where that where they have come from. And you know, whether it’s adversity or whatever it is that they may have faced right. We all have our all of our challenges that we face throughout life. I’m a lot of that is just collective ising those in different ways and being able to find ways that help people through different stages of their life. And those things change. Of course, as we get older and we move through our own different stages of our life. Yeah, I just kind of learned to do that better and better, and I’m still continuing to learn how to do that. Better to be completely honest. And I learned something new from every single person that I speak to be completely honest in terms of their story and where they’ve come from and what they’re trying to face, which is a real privilege, um, to be able to do that,
#storytellerjewels so I know you’ve done a lot of keynote presentations for example. I know you’ve been a part of, you know, panel discussions, etcetera. Do you do any other sort of publicly visible type? You know, content creation? Do you Do you write for anyone? Do you appear on anything other than these types of things that you get invited to?
Teresa Pollard No, not yet. I’ve been asked to spend a couple of times think about, you know, do I want to kind of write a blog or do you want to do something else? And I’m still kind of learning about some of those things. You know, their whole writing capability and communication doesn’t come typically naturally to me from a writing pen and paper type person. So I’m just kinda learning about those things kind of more and more. But it’s something that I see myself probably leaning into more in the future, as I, you know, understand more about that, the positivity of a platform right and how you can connect with others to help them realise or think about different things in a different way, depending on what it is that they’re facing and different questions that people have run. I think mentorships and an interesting thing and being able to talk to people and different diverse audiences also helps me to understand these things better. But when it comes to mentorship, you know there’s a lot of formulas people talk about, You know, you should do it this way. You should do it that way and should be in this framework and all these types of things. But at the grassroots level, what’s most important this? Are you curious enough to want to learn about someone else? Are you curious enough to ask different questions to help you realise that this isn’t just a one way exercise? Mentorship is a two way exercise for both of you to learn from each other, But just that happens that one. You know, one persons in one position don’t mean a title, but there in one position, in one place in their life and another one and another. And so it’s a combination of those things and what I found, too, in terms of my own mentors, and I have a few mentors myself, um, that are all quite different. They’re not the same type of mentor, which I think is quite interesting is that, um, I go to them for different things because they have expertise or knowledge or an association with one set of, um, one set of which versus another. What we find to is that with these mentors, and I’m very privileged to have them that they don’t see this at all as one way they absolutely see this as two way. Um and they learn lots from that as well, which is awesome. So I learn lots of things from them to then help to pass on to others where I can learn from others as I mentor other people. So, yeah, pretty awesome,
#storytellerjewels paying it forward. So I’m always curious about the sort of chicken and egg sort of question. Do you think in your opinion or in your journey, have you been invited to do keynote speaking beyond these panels? Be part of these boards because you’ve done public speaking because you’ve done other things in that area, or is it driven from a different direction? Like do you get asked, perhaps to be part of a board because of somebody you know, as opposed to somebody who’s seen you speak or a senior being part of another board? You know. And is that self fulfilling to some degree over time?
Teresa Pollard Um, yeah, that’s an interesting question. I was just trying to think about the board roles, and I have at the moment they’ve all come quite similarly so I haven’t I’ve applied for them officially, but I’ve actually got, you know, asked to apply for them because someone knows me or a mentor. An association that I have as part of my network has said, Hey, would you be interested in this Because we think this is gonna lie with, you know, your values and what you’re trying to do and the impact that we believe you’re trying to make. So that’s kind of how it’s happened. It’s not like I’ve gone on to seek, You know what I mean and filled up my CV and, you know, attached to different board roles. What I found is, I say, a lot of the board roles that I have fell into have been a process of nomination, which is quite typical, as I’ve understood through this kind of board process, you know, at the end of the day, too. If you’re interested in kind of going and following a board type career. It’s good to kind of assess who you are as a profile on a person, right and the expertise that you think you can bring to a board. So for me, a lot of those the reasons I’ve been chosen or nominated and then chosen as is because of my experience in technology. So that’s been definitely something that’s been of interest because a lot of boards, um, still don’t have that as a specialty. Um, so that whole digital adoption, what is digital technology look like to empower that entity? Whatever it may be, um, in New Zealand is a big association to make sure that we’ve got people that are talking to Fenway like of of Maori fucker, Papa, representing on different boards to make sure there’s diversity. But with that, you know, there’s always a positive and negative. So, you know, a lot of my colleagues and I who are Maori, talk about these things a lot that we don’t just jump on a board just because you’re Maori. It’s about can we make a real, you know, conscious difference to what it is that this entity is trying to do? Um, it’s not a box ticking exercise by any means, and it’s It’s not for me. So I’m very. I’m conscious of the boards that I have chosen up until now, in the belief they have in those boards and the contribution that I think that I can really, really make and the learning that I think that I can get from others that are on that board already as well, or what it is that I think that I can pass on to them through that process. So it’s a real jewel process as well.
#storytellerjewels When I read your linked in profile, I’ll see a lot of words like helping developing, coaching, guiding. It seems your work is more than just making a living, and you appear to have a purpose. What drives you to lead with purpose and not just profit.
Teresa Pollard I think that, um, a lot of that comes down to my heritage, too. So in in Maori culture, when you as you rise through the ranks or whatever is that you’re doing, you come to the stage where you are a role model for others and creating a legacy for those who will come after you. Um and so There’s a lot of are the words that describe that, and we talk about, um, Katsuaki Tango, which is about guardianship of others, um, of what has happened before and what will come in the future and what happens now. So a real awareness for some of these things. So that’s really important to me that I represent what we call our to Poona, right? Those who are my elders that have come a long time before me, who faced other adversities that I don’t face today, whereby when equity is still an issue across different community groups, it’s my role, my obligation, my, uh, my role to be able to stand up and role model for others so that they can have just as much opportunity as this that have been given to me and and my parents the sacrifices and compromises they made for me and my grandparents and so forth. So that’s very, very important times it probably number one number two is is leading for me, leaving a legacy of of purpose, Brian. At the end of the day, I want to know that I’ve helped to contribute and drive change. I’m a big driver of change wherever I can. I love change. Actually, I get bored if things are not changing, um, to be honest. So I like to look at different, innovative ways to be able to bring out change that’s going to be really helpful to others. Help us move into another another realm of difference in a good way. Right? That can help push the boundaries to help stretch all thinking and help us think differently about what can be. And as I say, equity is always at the centre of that. So that’s probably the second thing. And thirdly, I’m a true believer in balancing right profit and purpose, So there’s a lot of work at the moment. I’m around B Corp certification around business for good around. How can business be a letter right into into opportunities that can drive impact? And I’m a true believer in that so and I think in in a post covid world, and who knows what that means? Post covid because you know it’s going to be around for a long, long time. But many people have faced adversities of many, many kinds, and I really do feel that. And, uh, since the lockdown really happened last year and we continue to face these things across the world. What’s most important that I find from my colleagues and from our customers everyone wants to feel like they have made a difference to support someone else, not in the community to help their fellow neighbour. At the end of the day, we have to run commercial businesses to make sure their sustainable. But at the same time we can do that by collective ising impact together and making sure that we do the right thing as well, right? So so I think there’s a real real combination of things, and those things are really, really important to me, standing up for others who don’t have a voice being a role model for others to help them have a platform pushing others out in front to make sure that they can speak and provide their opinion on things, providing different solutions, problem solving in different ways of making sure that all our diverse communities, our young people, get the voice that they should have, because, you know, our world is changing very, very quickly and everyone has a role to contribute into a better future, right those are the things that really make a difference to me.
#storytellerjewels I think what you’ve described there is is absolutely wonderful, firstly and inspiring just to hear it in the way you’ve just described it. I love the idea of balancing profit, but with diversity, with with opportunity, with purpose, mixing in all the ethical side of business as much. No sustainability. All those things are really important for our future, as you say, and and making sure that everybody has the opportunity. I think it’s just beautifully articulated and thank you. And clearly I think you’ve already you know well, on the way to leaving a fabulous legacy. I’m interested to hear a little bit about the work that you’re doing with the youth and what does What does that sound like? What does that look like?
Teresa Pollard A lot of that work, I have to say, is supporting others, right and the amazing work that has already done in our communities. So I support by working with a lot of our young people across the country through linking up with other community groups, right, who are already doing amazing work. Another thing that I’m a big advocate for is not replicating where we don’t need to replicate right. It’s about finding, um, great examples of service and opportunity to others. And there’s many in the community that you can protect yourself, too. And I’m really, um I feel very lucky and very privileged to be part of a network of amazing people who do this on a daily basis, right? There’s a couple of groups who I work with. One is an entity called called Molly Hung Widow, and that’s about two amazing leaders from the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. Lee and Athena, who kind of created this organisation some years ago to really wrap around young people, um, and predominantly young Maori who have a lot of the time being disadvantaged in a lot of ways and regional communities and making sure that they see themselves as having the greatest opportunity right by seeing themselves and others like me and and others who have been just like them and who were just like them and have, you know, had an amazing and wonderful career to date and who we want to look backwards and look by sideways with them as well and hold hand held hands with them and bring them into what it is that we’re kind of doing going forward. That kind of takes the form of, you know, doing speeches with young people. And I’m going to talk that kind of career fairs. And I’m going to sit in classrooms and listen to what you know kids are worried about and thinking about going to talk to our parents and going to talk to career advisors and getting young people to come into the workplace and do mentoring days. And, yeah, lots of different things like that. Um, really? And there’s, as I say, amazing work being done across the country, which is awesome. So, yeah, I just kind of wrap myself around all those things.
#storytellerjewels So you said that you don’t publicly do any writing or or anything out in the public zone in that regard. Blogging, etcetera. But clearly you found a space to tell your story, You know, amongst all of these different you know, mentoring and boards and, you know, opportunities to speak is, you know, a way of getting your message out, which I applaud you for your holding down a full time job. You’re a board member, your mentor across a number of different areas. Your public speaker, your mom, your wife. How do you have any tips for those that look at that and go, Wow, How do you find the time to be that productive? And is there a balance in your life? Have you managed to find the lucky strike?
Teresa Pollard I’d love to say I’m always chasing, chasing the method myself if I’m completely honest, especially through a lockdown, it’s a little challenging a lot of the time, but I think it’s about and I haven’t always been good at this if I’m completely honest. So this is about, you know, this is about growth and stretches. You kind of get older and realise what it is that you think you can do Well, that and well, I mean and supporting others trying to really make a demonstrable difference versus just, you know, being across too many things that you can’t really make a difference to whatsoever. Um, and as I’ve kind of got older, as I say, this is what I’ve been much more conscious about the things that I choose to give my time to, knowing that I also have my Fano my family. Right? Um, and the time that I must give to them. So, as I say, as I’ve got older, I’ve realised, um, family comes first number one, right? And then a lot of my impact varieties to the work that I do in community Second and works gonna offered to that right. It’s kind of changes around. It doesn’t mean that it’s in the pecking order by any means. But those are the things that matter most because, you know, your family should be the number one kind of thing in your life. So it is very challenging. I don’t It’s not easy a lot of the time, so I’m not going to say it is because because it isn’t. But sometimes when you’re exhausted at the end of the day and you’ve managed, you know, a few meetings and kids schooling and, you know, making your husband’s lunch and, you know, picking up the dog poo at the same time and waiting for a courier driver to come at the front of the door. And you know, this is my day yesterday and then doing a board meeting, and they’re managing things online as well. With the whole meetings. You come to the end of the day on some reflection. Right to kind of realise was the time that I spent productive. Was it meaningful, Right? Did it deliver impact on my family? Happier, my Children happier? They’re feeling loved. Are they feeling safe? And did I actually make a small step forward and making a difference in someone’s life today, Right, to help them make another choice and what it is that they’re doing. And if so, then it’s always that right? And so that makes that makes me feel good
#storytellerjewels Knowing how busy you are and hearing all of that, Um, I feel honoured and privileged that you’ve made the time to spend with me today, and I think that was a beautiful sort of finishing point to to end on. But I do have one final question that I do like to ask, I guess, and that is, if someone was to give you a million dollars to pick your brain. But you only had a few minutes to impart your wisdom. What might that sound like?
Teresa Pollard Oh, interesting question. Someone’s going to give me a million dollars to impart some wisdom. God first. I don’t even know if I’m worth a million dollars in wisdom, to be completely honest. At the end of the day, money comes and goes in one’s life, so I don’t really think that that’s that’s the all and end all. I would be more interested in talking to someone about the fact that what matters most right is your family, your safety, your health and wellbeing of those around you. The contribution that you make to them, right, your Children, your parents, um, your husband and your wife, the family that’s around you to help them, to support them, to be where they need to be and what they need going forward. And secondly, if you can do one thing that can help your fellow neighbour or someone in your community, you should do it because you know what it’s the right thing to do, and it makes you feel great, and it makes them feel great. And what a greater place it would be.
#storytellerjewels If everyone could do that, I think the world would be a much better place, and I thank you for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Where can people find out a little bit more about you.
Teresa Pollard Uh, I don’t have a website or anything like that. I mean, I’m on LinkedIn. Teresa Pollard. Happy to chat. You know, um, if people were interested in kind of learning more or got any kind of questions, please, you know, message me on LinkedIn, happy to connect and and step you into the broader network. And as I say, I’m always getting lots of connects from different people who are interested in different things. And I’m more than happy to, um, opened up my network to others who who I think would be great for them to connect to as well. So thank you very much for the time has been an absolute pleasure. And, as you say in New Zealand, number Henry Keogh, Kotak Artur, which means Thank you and greetings and thank you for your time.
#storytellerjewels Thank you, Teresa. It’s been a pleasure.
#storytellerjewels Teresa is an inspiring leader and is driven by her deep rooted Maori culture purpose driven role model who works hard daily to guide the next generation and make a real difference. I think we can all learn something from Teresa’s passion and priorities. Much love chat soon.