Learning to thrive to leave a legacy

Paula O'Neill is the National Operations Manager for Stats NZ, a role that will lead an operation of up to 6,000 staff across the country for the 2023 Census.

Previously Paula worked for 14 years with Ara Poutama Aotearoa Department of Corrections. Paula shared her insights and passed on some tips for being an effective leader – one that does more than just survive in a tough job, but thrives and inspires their staff and colleagues.

I have been extremely blessed over my career to have crossed paths with 'mana wāhine leaders' that I have looked up to. These leaders have inspired and driven me to be the best I can be – without losing who I am in the process – on my leadership journey. They have also supported my development and growth over the years, for which I am truly thankful. 

As a leader I have learned that you need create mutual trust through transparency and clear expectations. In other words, fostering a cooperative learning climate between parties. This is the environment I have strived to create with my managers and staff to support their development and growth. What I've observed is that great leaders don’t just survive, they thrive and leave behind a legacy that inspires others.

We often lose sight of who we are on the leadership journey and experience moments that have us question or doubt whether we are travelling the right pathway.  What I can say from experience is that you will always come across people or situations that challenge this and often have an impact on our own self-belief, triggering thoughts of imposter syndrome or worse still, no longer believing you are good enough. When we have these moments of doubt, that is when you need to surround yourself with the right people who remind you of what you have achieved and what you are truly capable of, in a world that needs leaders to be authentic, passionate, brave and courageous. 

Tīhei mauri ora! He uri ahau nō Ngāti Kurī, Ngāi Takoto me Ngāpuhi. Ko Ratahi te ingoa whānau. Ko Paula Ratahi-O'Neill ahau.


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