Ten Questions with... Bobbie Richardson
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Tell us a little about your career, including your very first job?
Funnily enough, when I first left school, I did work experience at the Morrisonville Police Station. Then I worked in administration at the Animal Health Centre. After travelling, I returned to New Zealand to complete a qualification at Waikato Polytechnic while working as the office manager for a trust that provided vocational services for mental health clients. Then I was off to Australia, working for a primary healthcare service for 17 years, and had great opportunities within a growing company. I completed my degree, majoring in human resource management, while working as part of the senior management team. For the past two years, I was the people and capability business partner at BOP District Health Board.
Did you know much about policing before taking on this role?
Not really, but I know it’s a large and complex organisation – and so many acronyms (I thought the DHB had a lot)! I’m conscious that I have a lot to learn and the best way is to meet those who do the mahi, day in and day out. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness and support already shown to me as the “new Graeme”.
What do you see as the important issues in staff-management relations in the modern workplace?
The issues aren’t new, but they’re absolutely important, and it’s about getting the basics right.
Communication – effective listening, collaboration, sharing information, giving and receiving feedback.
Consistency – fair and reasonable treatment for all parties, transparency
People management – support, accountability, valuing diversity, acknowledgment through reward
Continuous quality improvement – ongoing learning, personal and career development, change initiatives.
Workplace wellness – mental health and wellbeing, health and safety.
It’s a challenging time for the country, with terror on the radar, and our members involved in the single biggest operation Police has ever undertaken. What are your hopes or fears for the future?
I am hopeful that as a society we continue to value and appreciate the diversity among us all, as fellow New Zealanders. I am hopeful that my children can continue to grow up in our beautiful country and not lose sight of their own sense of freedom and the possibility that they can make a difference.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in the South Island (Timaru) and raised in the North Island (Morrinsville).
You lived in Australia for 20 years. What prompted the move back and what will you miss about Aussie?
We wanted our kids to get to know and appreciate their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and have a better sense of belonging to something greater than themselves. Mostly, I miss the friends and relationships that were made – through work, raising our kids and being part of the community. Australia is not that far away and we have already been lucky enough to have some visitors. I can tell you what I don’t miss – the flies, the 40C heat and, “Oh, you’re a Kiwi”, upon hearing my broad NZ accent.
Tell us about your family?
We are a family of five – my husband, also a New Zealander, is a house husband extraordinaire (he’s vacuuming as I write this), my daughter is a teenager (need I say more!) who loves swimming and her iPhone, and the boys are at primary school and love futsal and bike riding. The best part of moving back to New Zealand for them is they have no uniform and don’t have to wear shoes to school.
What the best thing about living in the Bay or Plenty?
The ocean, the temperate weather and the friendly people – and being closer to family.
We hear that your husband worked as a mechanic on the motor racing circuit. Are you a petrolhead too?
Not at all. Well, maybe in the beginning, when I was naive… Despite the glitz and glamour, V8 supercars is a really tough business. My interest has definitely waned over the years, but his commitment remains 100 per cent intact.
What’s the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
In 2015, we went on an 11-month journey around Australia with a truck and a five-berth caravan. We made our plans as we travelled, did a lot of free camping on beaches and in national parks and saw some amazing sights. During that time we also home-schooled two of the kids through the School of the Air, which provides correspondence learning to remote areas via the radio and internet.