I am born and raised in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. I am a first-generation Kiwi, born to Cambodian parents who migrated to New Zealand as refugees due to the Khmer Rouge.

Tell us about your graduate placement and your host agency. 

The Ethnic Communities Graduate Programme has given me the opportunity to be placed at Manatū Hauora - the Ministry of Health – as an advisor in the Ministry Strategy and Performance (MSP) team. One half of my team’s function is responsible for performance reporting, and the other half is responsible for the Enterprise Project Management Office function where they are essentially consultants to the Ministry. I am very grateful to be placed in this team as their work is spread across the Ministry and allows me to develop and hone many essential skills that will help me in my career. Every day brings in a new challenge, as I am currently the Subject Matter Expert in learning for a Project Management tool the Ministry will be rolling out. I am constantly learning new things about this tool, by providing support to users who need it, and by trying to answer any questions related to the tool. The working environment in this team is super supportive, fun, and playful, and everyone in the team has really helped me with the transition into my first government role.  

Is there a career goal you are working towards?

My mindset coming into this role was to learn as much as possible to give me a clearer idea of what my career goal could be. I feel like I am too early in my career to set a goal for myself. I know I still have a lot of learning and maturing to do before I can full-heartedly strive towards a goal I am passionate about.    

This is why I am very grateful to be part of the MSP team at the Ministry. Working across the team’s two different functions has already taught me various important skills in just the three months I have been here.  

Why do you think it’s important to have a diverse Public Service?

I believe the importance of having a diverse Public Service comes from New Zealand becoming such a diverse place, with many Kiwis who have different ethnic backgrounds calling New Zealand their home. Because of this, I believe the Public Service should be a representation of New Zealand. This ensures that all decisions made consider the different perspectives and struggles of the various ethnic groups living in New Zealand. Ultimately this will aid in building a country that nurtures inclusion, no matter their background.

What advice do you give to graduates considering a career in the Public Service?

If you are driven by making a difference in people’s lives, a career in the Public Service would be perfect for you! From my time working in the Public Service so far it has been very motivating and rewarding to know that the work I am doing is making a difference in the lives of New Zealanders. The Public Service may have the stereotype of being too serious or intimidating, which is untrue. Everyone is motivated and supportive and likes to see others succeed, as we are not working for ourselves but for New Zealand.


Posted 7 months ago by Cristian Cornejo

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