Hi Te Omeka! Welcome to SiteHost and great to have you in the team. Tell us, how have your first weeks been?
Oh, very good actually and also eye opening. One of the things that really opened my eyes is the way SiteHost tries to push the boundaries of tech. The things I learned this week about the future of virtualisation, where we are heading as a company, that really excites me and makes me realise I am onboard of the right ship. And of course meeting the team has been really awesome!
How did you end up at SiteHost?
After finishing my last role, I had some time to look around. At the market and companies that I thought were heading in the right direction. But also at the people within those companies. Are they the kind of people that want to push the boundaries and that I would like to work with? Eventually I ended up with three companies and SiteHost was one of them. In the end SiteHost just ticked all the right boxes and I’m thankful that they have given me this opportunity.
So this is not your first role in tech, right?
No, I have basically always worked in tech. Let me tell you a story. When I was young, I watched my older brother grabbing a floppy disc, writing the name of a game on it, putting it in our Commodore 64, and we just started playing ‘Bruce Lee’. It blew my mind! But the thing is, the next day I wanted to play a wrestling game, so I grabbed a floppy, wrote ‘World Wrestling Federation’ on it, put it in the computer, and waited… But it just wouldn’t load. (Laughing) Fortunately my brother later explained how it all worked. I suppose that’s where my journey in tech started and I haven't looked back since.
Once you give yourself the power to own the moment, you also determine the outcome.
Let’s talk a bit about diversity. How come we see so few Māori and other Pacific Islanders working in the NZ tech industry?
That’s a difficult question. But if I think about it, Māori and Pacific Islanders are naturally into things like movement, music, arts, expression. And as we moved into this world of math, science, physics, it wasn’t something that came naturally to us. It was more like looking at a spreadsheet and having to sit down. Not being able to move while doing it. And if I think about my cousins, I can imagine them thinking something similar.
Let me give you an example. If you have a Māori student doing things that Māori do naturally, they’ll stand super tall and super proud. But when you put them in a space they don’t understand, that’s more in the western paradigm or in a western organisation, that lack of knowledge brings a lack of confidence. And I think it’s that lack of confidence that brings a ‘I can’t do that and I might be judged by my family’ kind of attitude.
But also not seeing enough examples in that space they can relate to. With more people to look up to, they will automatically get the confidence to follow those examples and it will just become something we can see us doing as well. It’s that whole role model thing, you know. In Māori we call this tuakana teina - the older teaches the younger.
Do you see yourself as one of those role models? Do you think you can inspire younger generations to start a career in the tech industry?
I don’t see myself as a role model naturally, but people tell me often I am a role model. Not seeing myself as a role model comes from the fact I am not an Elon Musk kind of guy. Or a Quintin Russ. (Laughing) I mean, I don’t have my own business, the money and the Mercedes, but then when I talk to people, they say, you work in tech, you have a sales job in tech, you know so much about tech. And I realise, in that sense I am a role model and can inspire people.
Diversity is all about having different strengths and talents. What’s the strength - or superpower - you bring into SiteHost?
It took me a while to figure out what my superpower is, but I think it’s energy. I can magnify the energy of a team. What I mean is when you inject me into a team, that team will start to feel better, laugh more, have more conversations, be more expressive with their ideas, and as a result the whole energy of the team will change. The team will perform better, will become more productive. So yeah, my superpower would be injecting positive energy.
Superheroes do amazing things. What is something you have achieved and are really proud of?
The thing I’m most proud of is the way I behave around people that I love. The reason I'm proud of that is because I used to be quite different, pretty selfish and I didn’t really think as much about others as I probably should have. But around 2015 I started to realise I could give a lot more to the people around me. And by giving more, I actually got more. And it made me realise what an amazing thing this law of reciprocity is.
The strange thing is though that I always did act that way as soon as I got into a corporate environment, but I didn’t do it at home. In 2015 I made this click in my head that I could be that person both at work and at home and my relationships with the people that I love, became a lot more open and honest. As a result, I stopped trying to be someone else. I didn’t feel I had to pretend anymore. And not having to pretend anymore is what I am most proud of.
If you could change one thing or solve one problem in the world, what would that be?
The one thing I would like to change or solve, is the victim mindset. Human beings are very quick to offload ownership, responsibility and accountability for the things that they do and put that onto someone else.
But we have so much power and can achieve so much if we just realise what we are capable of. I believe that once you give yourself the power to own the moment or the situation, that you also determine the outcomes of those moments or situations. And when you start taking ownership, responsibility, you just change up a gear, life becomes instantly different and the little things don’t matter so much anymore. Life just becomes a lot easier and a lot better. Oh, and I would make everybody listen to reggae music. (laughing)
Finally, if you were not working at SiteHost, where would you be / what would you be doing?
If I could do something else during my day, it would be talking to kids about my experiences around how I overcame difficult things. Just doing awesome things with kids really. Like going down the Wanganui River and teach them little things while floating down. In that kind of space, I just lose myself. And then when they tell me how inspirational it all was, with so much fun and laughter and you have instantly become mates, that’s just the best feeling you can ever have.