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Xero New Zealand

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Pagen Plaizier

Work is such a huge part of our life (whether we like it or not) and I always think to myself - I might not be able to change the world, but maybe I can have a positive impact on one person's work life, which might help to change one person's whole life. That's what keeps me motivated.

In one sentence, What's your employer doing and what's your area of responsibility?

Xero is business software designed to make life better for small businesses, their advisors and communities around the world.  I work in the HR team and my role in Xero is to support the people (we call them Xeros) to achieve that lofty goal while doing the best work of their lives

What are you doing day to day in your role? E.g. what's a typical day, week, or project of yours?

Whenever I describe my role I say that I partner with senior leaders in the business to solve people problems.  What the typical day looks like varies wildly - I am in a LOT of meetings discussing strategies, people initiatives or projects, specific things happening in a team or with an employee and helping teams navigate people change.  I work on everything that touches the employee's work-life at Xero from the time they're onboarded to when they eventually leave Xero.

Where did you grow up? E.g. If you are Māori, are you affiliated with an Iwi or Hapu?

Ko Ngati Kuta tōku hapu, ko Ngapuhi tōku iwi, nō Rawhiti ahau (i Te Tai Tokerau).  I hail from a small town in the Bay of Islands called Rawhiti, but grew up in Manurewa, South Auckland

What would you say were the most important stages of your life? (school, work experience, people etc)

All of the above!  Each stage of my life has shaped who I am as a person and helped me grow.  My upbringing in South Auckland had a huge impact on me.  I then received a scholarship to an all-girls, private school in central Auckland which was a HUGE change and also helped me to evolve and grow as a person, and to experience different things with different people.  My work life now is a super important stage too - I have grown in confidence as I have gotten old(er), and my career journey has been a huge part of that

How did you get to your current job position and how long have you been in the role?

I was ‘bullied’ into applying for my job by a friend who already worked at Xero!  She was going on parental leave and wanted me to apply for her position while she was away looking after pēpi. 

So my first role at Xero was on a fixed-term contract, but I loved it and basically told them they should find another role for me at the end of that contract because I wasn't going without a fight! Three and a half years later and I'm in my fourth role at Xero and still learning, growing and loving it everyday. 

Is there any other person information you're happy to share that has shaped you/your life journey?

My whanau, friends and even my work colleagues have all helped to shape my journey. Everyone who you spend a lot of time with will help to shape you, so make sure you surround yourself with good peeps!

If someone wants to do the same thing that you're currently doing, would that be possible if they're studying a different qualification/degree to you?

Yes - HR is one of those careers that you can enter in so many ways, and the skills you get from various other areas of study or career paths are all beneficial.  I studied law and HR was my "filler" conjoint degree - now I can't imagine doing anything else. 

Other colleagues have studied commerce, BA, or other degrees/ qualifications that they thought had no relevance.  Some people don't have formal qualifications at all.  There are many different ways to enter HR.  The more important thing is the core skills you bring - communication, problem-solving ability, empathy etc.

What characteristics and/or skills would someone need to get into your line of work?

As above, the core skills are more important than anything.  The ability to communicate well (and that means listening, not just getting your point across), empathy, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.  The ability to read people and a situation and adapt your approach in the moment is also critical.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I get to play a small part in making people's work lives awesome. Work is such a huge part of our life (whether we like it or not) and I always think to myself - I might not be able to change the world, but maybe I can have a positive impact on one person's work life, which might help to change one person's whole life. That's what keeps me motivated.

For you, what's the biggest limitation in your job?

When you are solving people problems, you often can't put something off until the next day or the next week. It means that, while there is certainly an element of your work life that you can plan, often your day gets 'derailed' by people or people issues that need your attention at that moment in time. That sounds negative, but it all goes back to my previous answer around the impact someone's work can have on their life, both positive and negative. People who are struggling with something need to be your priority over all the great projects, development or other work you have planned.

The other thing I find tough about my job is switching off and not second-guessing my decisions or the approach I have taken to solving a people problem or question. I can have an idea of how something will go, but you throw people in the mix and you never know how they will react or respond.

3 pieces of advice for students

  • Really sit down and think about your skills, what you're good at and what you love doing.  Take these three things, and find a job or career that combines them.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions - keep asking the questions until you understand something.  You might feel silly in the moment, but you'll thank yourself later.
  • No one knows what they're doing at work. And you'll never feel like you know what you're doing.  You'll just get more confident that no one else in the room knows either and therefore you can just make it up and it'll probably be alright ;)