While there are some things you can teach, not everything comes as naturally as a second skin. Some of us are born leaders and loud communicators; others are deep thinkers and quiet achievers. In many instances our upbringing or familial roles can seamlessly shape our future experiences, where in others you must learn to cultivate and develop your path along the way. 

Growing up on a farm in the deep south of New Zealand, my formative years were shaped wholesomely by the remote area in which my family lived. At the tender age of thirteen I went off to boarding school in Dunedin – the only accessible option for a high school education – and spent family holidays in Queenstown, where in the winters we snow-skied and in the summers we water-skied. My first job was a room attendant in one of the hotels here, where at the age of fifteen I became acutely aware of the broad opportunities the hotel and hospitality industry could bring. 

Dunedin, NZ

Travel, culture and the exciting possibility of exploring beyond my home town was welcomed. 

In my final year of boarding school I applied to gain a place at the only Hotel Management School in New Zealand, based in Wellington. At the same time I applied for a scholarship to attend Drysdale in Hobart, one of the best Hotel Management schools in the Southern Hemisphere. The scholarship was an initiative between the sister cities of Invercargill and Hobart, established to boost tourism throughout Tasmania. I was fortunate enough to secure one of these scholarships, and so my adventure in Australia began.

From here my passion for working with people catapulted. A component of my three-year degree at Drysdale was a six-month practical placement which I was fortunate enough to secure at the Grand Hyatt, where I remained for a subsequent three years. During this time part of my role was to look after the VIP guests who stayed there, from U2 and the Rolling Stones, to Phil Collins, Sammy Davis Jnr and Katherine Hepburn.

14th June 1969: British rock band the Rolling Stones in 1969, after the death of founding member Brian Jones. They are, from left to right; drummer Charlie Watts, new member guitarist Mick Taylor, vocalist Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards and bass player Bill Wyman. (Photo by Len Trievnor/Express/Getty Images)

For a teenager from the deep south of NZ, starstruck was an understatement. 

Yet customer service – or rather, ‘people’ service – soon became a natural extension of who I was, and the experiences I gained in my formative years certainly paved the way for the career I have now. 

Working with people is not something I felt challenged to learn, nor did I feel the need to suppress. It was simply who I was. Following my studies I managed a few bars and pubs before deciding to go back to school as a lecturer, teaching food and wine studies to give back to the industry. While this certainly kept me busy and immersed in the thriving food and culture scene of Melbourne, a career in HR was something that had always been at the forefront of my professional ambition.

Two years later I completed my post-grad studies in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management at RMIT, and haven’t looked back since. 

In the past two decades my career has seen me tackle challenging tasks head-on, and deliver practical, tangible results to corporate companies across Australia, Asia and the US. My experience spans companies across a multitude of industries from hospitality, building, construction, law and IT, to banking, finance, retail and not-for-profit. My toes are well-travelled, and my passion for human development ever increasing.

In late 2016 I established my own consulting firm, which is where I find myself today. Drawing upon my strengths and skillsets developed over many decades, my offerings are as unique as they are time honoured, and while inherently consistent they are not without regular reimagining. With each new year comes a new innovation or trend, and I’m both fortunate and excited to be in the position of welcoming change. 

One of these is developing a more digital presence for Catie Paterson Consulting, and I invite you to follow my journey along the way. Each month I will be publishing a blog post on an interesting concept, or an exciting or relevant piece of HR news, littered sporadically with engaging commentary and personal insights. 

My aim is to connect better with people online, and showcase a different side to the world of HR in an expressive, informative and digital way. 

-Catie Paterson