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When I first began working for Gilligan Sheppard, my experience and knowledge of marketing and accounting (this one is obvious) were fairly limited. Despite failing the ‘spelling test,’ Lisa and Debra took a chance on me. Perhaps it was because of ‘team fit’, and they liked that I had travelled. Either way, I couldn’t be more grateful to have been given the opportunity to embark on my much-desired marketing journey.

lisa and tori

There was so much to learn about Gilligan Sheppard’s dynamics, how they work, what they do, and who their target audience is. However, the one thing that was clear almost immediately was the company culture. After all, the GS values outlined on the website had already resonated with me before my interview. Sometimes, you don’t know whether this stuff is just put out there to look good online or if the company actually demonstrates it.

GS does.

The freedom to be real allowed me to be myself, even in an environment surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, which can be extremely intimidating.

The courage to imagine gave me the space to be creative, share my ideas without judgment, and be open to new ways of thinking.

The determination to excel together meant I was there to contribute to my peers’ success by helping them with their online presence and sharing their knowledge with our audience.

Growing each other meant taking constructive feedback and using it to improve my skills. It meant playing devil’s advocate more often than not and not being afraid to give constructive feedback, too.

Although it took me a long time to truly get my head around the complex services, having values to live by helped put things into perspective. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t grasp the technical aspects of mergers and acquisitions if I knew the company’s purpose and vision. The vision is to be recognised as New Zealand’s best enriching environment for talent, wealth, and business, so it was my job to ensure that everything I did aligned with this.

Fast-forward three years, and I’m having conversations about succession planning, Xero, business valuations, and the importance of employee engagement.

But all of this is just a portion. The guts of everything I am taking away lies within content marketing. Along my journey, MasterJack was born. This is when I found my feet.

Lisa and I worked hard with Bill to establish our purpose, vision and values, and it was all so exciting but difficult, too. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight; it is still a work in progress. We thought offering every marketing service you could think of would reflect our wide range of knowledge. But it wasn’t until we dialled it down to a “niche” – content marketing – that we truly shined.

Content marketing is the foundation of everything. Without content, there would be no website, article, social post, newsletter, billboard… you get the idea.

I find it hard to pinpoint the specific things I’ve learned in this industry because there are so many. I think when you start to specialise in something, imposter syndrome creeps in more, and you just want to be better and better, so you forget how far you’ve actually come.

There are moments, however. For me, it was those conversations around the networking room, answering questions about our business and even giving advice and/or suggestions to people. It’s when Lisa started asking for my opinion and perspective on nearly every project. It’s when I could push back on things because I had a different suggestion.

These little things were my milestones.

Everybody is human.

I’ve discovered that high-tier people are less scary than you think (mostly). If you’re anything like me, young, female, and just beginning to engage with corporate people, CEOs, law firms, etc., it can be intimidating.

It’s scary in the sense that, before meeting them (and yes, maybe I put these people into a box at first), I felt like I had to mould myself to appear as someone who I am not. And that is uncomfortable for me.

Too quick to judge, my preconceived idea was soon put to bed. Everybody is HUMAN. I learned that if I communicate with these people like humans and not some kind of superhuman, they treat me equally. It strips back the façade and stereotypical judgement. Building relationships must be built around authenticity. So, it’s important to stay true to yourself and never fear that simply being “you” is not good enough.

Not gonna lie, Christmas parties help reveal the human side of everyone after a few drinks. Haha.

It’s the people.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed working for such a diverse company, but the people made it special. It’s always about the people. If it weren’t for the intellectual and sometimes ludicrous conversations with Bruce, I would never have explored such a wide range of topics. I would never have considered the other side if it weren’t for Joshna’s perspective, which always seems so right. If it weren’t for Richard’s amazing communication and lightning-fast email replies, I wouldn’t have gotten things done on time. I would never have been so inspired to do my best if it weren’t for Bill’s passion for people and doing good shit. If it weren’t for Yi Ping, I would never have felt so cool, calm, and collected when talking about numbers. And I would not have got to where I am today if it weren’t for Lisa – my boss, work mum, friend, counsellor, teacher and cheerleader.

Thank you, Gilligan Sheppard.