Interview and photograph by Florence Noble.
With a passion for people – and getting them out of cars – Josie Richardson loves working at Britomart in human resources at Westpac.
Are you from Auckland?
Yes I am. I grew up in Takapuna, then lived overseas for a while, and now live in Devonport.
How do you get to Britomart?
It’s 12 minutes on the ferry. It’s a lovely way to switch gears between home and work, and then work and home.
What do you do here?
I do human resources at Westpac.
How did you get into it?
I always wanted to be in business, but I didn’t want to do the numbers – I wanted to be involved in the people. While I was at Uni, I was working for the company that previously owned Northern Steamship and and I said to my boss, “You need an HR manager and it should be me.” And he said, “Okay.”
I’ve heard a few stories recently where people have done that and it worked.
I honestly think it does work. I mean, my situation was that I’d worked with them for years and we had a level of trust, but the hiring manager is a vulnerable position because you want the best, and you don’t know what that is necessarily, so sometimes it can be reassuring to be told.
What’s the best thing about working here?
Westpac has lots of lovely people. And they do lots of things over and above what might be expected. What I like about Britomart is that it always feels like it’s growing. I feel like New Zealand can look around aesthetically and be very proud of what this place looks like, because it’s cared for and it feels collective. It’s a tiny little transient-but-secure community.
Where’s the best place to eat around here?
Amano. I love it.
What’s your favourite hidden Auckland spot?
I really love going to the Waitakere Ranges, and the west coast beaches. I would love to live out there. I went to Anawhata for the first time recently. It was like being on the set of The Piano. There were no houses where I was… it probably looked exactly the same 100 years ago. I thought it was a very cool place.
If you could change one thing about Auckland, what would it be?
I have very strong opinions on this! Transport. And I know that’s a boring topic, but building more and more roads is not sustainable. We have a harbour that could service so many other people in terms of their commute. Like, Devonport shouldn’t be one of the only viable places to live to get to work by water. There should be way more up the harbour, they should do the bays. And then give me more trains. Get it across the harbour bridge. To the airport. Get it working. It doesn’t have to be like this. I’m so passionate about it because I know I’m not the only person who’s had these ideas, yet something keeps standing in the way, and it’s so frustrating. Almost everyone I work with spends an hour getting to work every day, and an hour getting home, in their car. It’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for their well-being. It’s bad for their connectedness with other people.
What’s your idea of fun?
Variety. Friends and family. Invest in that, and fun happens. I need to invest and instigate more stuff, and then things happen.
Do you have any hobbies?
Marie Kondo’ing my wardrobe. It gives me such a great sense of achievement. And I like planning things that I’ll never get around to doing. I never execute them, but I do like to plan them.
If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
I’d like to work for the United Nations on some kind of project that brings countries or people within countries together to work on global initiatives. I’m not even bothered about what the initiative is. It’s the planning and the bringing people together. That’s what I like.
Whats your favourite thing to spend money on?
Clothes and dining.
Have you got your eye on anything to buy at the moment?
So many things. Working here is particularly good-slash-bad for that. I love buying clothes, they bring me joy. And bright lipstick. I love Trelise Cooper’s shop Coop. They have a brand in there called Holy Chic and it’s all one size, and fun and affordable. And there’s new stuff all the time. The whole shop is my answer.
What’s something not many people know about you?
I get enormous satisfaction from connecting people, work-wise, project-wise.
Are there any Britomartians you see around that you’d like to make friends with?
All the people who work at World. I love going in there. There’s a lady with pink and purple hair who always has excellent outfits on. And there are these two elderly people who do Tai Chi in the Britomart building every morning. They’re adorable.
What would you say is the meaning of life?
Connectedness. That’s what I think anyway. That’s what the meaning of my life is.