Kiwis coming home – an interview with Joel Mathews

Hunter Campbell chats with Joel Mathews, FP&A Manager at TSG, about his experience returning to the New Zealand job market after eight years in London.

Joel studied at the University of Auckland and started his career at PwC as a Senior Associate before heading over to the UK, where he worked in banking. Hunter Campbell assisted Joel with his job search when he returned to Auckland last year.

Senior Consultant Chris Cooper says Joel’s experience is a great example of how returning to New Zealand can be made seamless by starting the process early on.

“Hunter Campbell started talking with Joel several months before he left the UK and we met him on the ground during our 2019 London trip. He has an impressive CV and had this role secured shortly after he returned. It’s fantastic to hear that he’s enjoying the job and being back home,” Chris says.

Joel – how did you find the job transition between London and New Zealand?

I found some things straightforward and others less so. Having been away from New Zealand for eight years I realised that the markets, industries and companies had changed and moved on quite a bit so there was a bit of a knowledge gap for me. It was important to prepare in advance of making the move by doing personal research and talking to knowledgeable recruiters like Hunter Campbell in order to have more productive employment conversations.

Having said that, I do believe that Finance skills are easily transferrable between the UK and New Zealand. The experiences I had and the knowledge gained in London are also very relevant to New Zealand and looked upon favourably by New Zealand employers.

In terms of comparisons, one of the main things I’ve noticed coming from Financial Services in the UK is that businesses here are generally more flexible and agile. As a Finance professional, I think it is rewarding to see the work that you do influence strategy and business decisions. In New Zealand you see these decisions being made more quickly, which is great. That, and a more relaxed working environment.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently and why?

Starting my search from the UK was important. Due to the size of the market, it can take a bit longer to find the right role so anything you can do in advance of making the move is beneficial.

I met up with Hunter Campbell when they were in London in July to talk about what was happening in the New Zealand market and from there, I had Skype calls and began getting my CV circulated with organisations I was interested in.

It was only a month before I was working after I got back to New Zealand. For me, it was important to start quite soon after coming home and it really helped that I started searching before I left the UK.

What advice would you give people working overseas who are thinking of coming home?

I think it’s good to keep an open mind about the type of roles and industries you will consider because the markets are different. Initially I had my heart set on staying in banking, but I have ended up doing something different and I’m really enjoying it and learning a lot.

It’s also good to reconnect with people you know and former colleagues in your network. New Zealand is a small place and those networks and relationships can help open doors and lead to opportunities.

I came back in October to avoid the holiday period, which was helpful in terms of starting as quickly as I did. Recruitment activity really slows down over Christmas and the New Year here so I think people should keep that in mind. Timing your return is quite important.

Again, I think it’s worth remembering that finding a job here will probably take longer because there are less roles available.

What have been the best things about coming home?

For me it’s family, re-establishing old friendships, and the lifestyle.

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