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Finn Shewell | 18 February 2020

Working with Kin - the organisation, and the family.

There are those of us who step into a character as we cross the barricade from street to office every day, and then... there are those who don’t.


When you were a kid, did you ever see a Teacher outside of school and have your perception of reality obliterate itself in front of your eyes?

I caught my Year 5 Teacher wandering through the Fresh Produce section one day and it was like a switch was flipped in my mind - How the hell can Mr. Barnett exist outside of the classroom? As my little wee brain recovered from it’s short-circuit, I realised something; Mr. Barnett was more than a teacher; he was a person. People need to eat too.

Around September last year, My Mum and I had a couple problems we were looking to overcome; she needed a hand with some Marketing & Comms projects that were underway at Kin, and I needed to sink my teeth into a new project for about a day a week. After a quick chat, we figured we could hit two birds with one stone.

Stepping in to my first day at Kin, I had the fear of another short-circuit moment in the back of my mind. I was about to work with someone I’d known my whole life as ‘Mum’ - what was going to happen when I interacted with her as ‘Wendy’?

This fear was (at least partially) supported by my background in Psychology - We’re all deeply affected by our environment at any given moment. Depending on the context we’re operating in, we change our behaviour. In the context of the workplace, this means that there are those of us who become 'someone else' when we step into the office every day - someone who’s different to who you are at home, who you are with your friends, and who you are with your partner. Then there are those of us who are always one person. Someone who’s the same at the office, at home, with their friends, and with their partner. Someone who seems paradoxically unafflicted by their environment.

So as I entered the building, rode the elevator to the 8th floor, took a left and then another left, I wasn’t sure if I’d be meeting Mum, or Wendy. I didn't know if I was about to short-circuit like a kid seeing his teacher at the grocery store.

If you’ve ever done business with my Mum, you knew the answer as soon as the question was posed. Wendy approaches work as a mother. That's not to say she brings everyone packed lunches and assigns a chore roster - more that she prioritises relationship above revenue, and is constantly working to help others grow. Whether it’s working with a member of the team, connecting with a client, or any other interaction in the name of Kin - She comes from a place of compassion first.

This shapes the culture of Kin massively - Everyone is always on the lookout for ways to support one another, the word ‘I’ isn’t part of the vocabulary. The team is very comfortable working in a decentralized style, having created a robust system around themselves that balances accountability with compassion, and acknowledges that work doesn’t need to be 80% of your life. Most importantly, it feels as if everyone steps into the office as themselves.

There isn't a single member of the Kin team that isn't eager to go above and beyond - and that kind of energy catches on. During my time with Kin, I've found myself helping people with their instagram game, discussing how Gen-Z is transforming the work-force, and most memorably, having a very animated conversation about bringing asteroids into a stable earth-orbit to triple the size of Earth's economy.

This blog is titled ‘working with Kin - the organisation, and the family’ - After joining the Kin team and getting to know everyone, that title feels redundant. Because everyone in the team is part of a family – I just happened to be the only member with a genetic link to one of the team.

All in all, it’s been an amazing experience working with such a unique team as they step into the next phase of their Marketing journey - and I can’t wait to help them go from strength to strength as they continue to transform recruitment in NZ and beyond.

I’ll end this brief reflection as it started; there are those of us who step into a character as they cross the barricade from street to office every day, and there are those who don’t. It’s been a real privilege to work with a team who don’t.