Living in Seville, collecting fossils and a passion for cake: Q&A with Head of Marketing and Operations, Natalie Gruner
This month we had the pleasure of catching up with another long-term Castlefordian – our Head of Marketing and Operations, Natalie Gruner.
Like last month’s interviewee, Natalie has now been with Castleford for five years.
We caught up with her about the different roles she has undertaken during her time here, the various countries she has visited and lived in, as well as her biggest achievement during her time with us.
1. This month is your 5 year Castleversary. What were you doing before you started with Castleford, and what led you to us?
I had just finished my Master in International Business Management in London and followed my Kiwi boyfriend (who I met over in the UK) to New Zealand. I was working for a small Marketing company on my work and holiday visa and was looking for a new challenge. That’s when I came across Castleford on Seek, and the rest is history!
2. If you weren’t doing marketing for a living, what would you be doing instead?
I always wanted to become a palaeontologist when I was younger. I guess growing up with the Jurassic Park movies and a fossil-obsessed dad inspired me. Once I realised that most palaeontologists dig holes in the desert for months on end without necessarily finding anything – I was slightly put off! I still collect fossils as a hobby but I think, looking at my comfortable daily office life, working with all the amazing people here, I did well in changing career paths!
3. You’ve been a kind of ‘jill-of-all-trades’ since you started with Castleford – what sort of roles have you taken on over the years?
When I first started at Castleford, I was working in Primary Sales (former “Lead Gen”) on the conference call team. I realised quickly that we needed a marketing person in Auckland (they used to be based in Sydney back in the day) and I asked Adam (our company’s founding director) if we could employ someone in our Auckland office. He suggested that I would give it a go myself (since my whole background was in marketing). So I started as our first Marketing Executive here in Auckland. From there I started building a small marketing team around me and was promoted to the Marketing Manager. After our Primary Sales Manager left, I took over the Primary Sales team as well as the Sales & Marketing Manager.
As I got more and more involved with additional office duties and recruitment I was promoted to the Head of Marketing & Operations at the height of my Castleford career! I really like that I’ve been able to work in so many different roles here, it’s given me an amazing insight into so many different areas of our business which is extremely useful when working across different departments like I do.
4. It may surprise some people to know that you have a passion for travelling! Tell us about where you’ve been and what your favourite destinations are.
Oh yes, travel is definitely a great passion of mine. I went on my first overseas trip with friends when I was 15 and had the travel bug ever since. I don’t think there is a cure, to be honest! I’ve basically travelled all over Europe with my family when I was younger and then as a teenager with friends. There aren’t many countries left in Europe that I haven’t visited yet but there is lots more to see in the rest of the world! I really wonder sometimes how I’ll be able to see it all in one life – I must make some efficient travel plans.
So far, I’ve managed to visit 6 out of 7 continents (I’m only missing Antarctica) but it’s really hard to pick a favourite place… I’ve lived abroad both in the UK (London) and in Spain (Seville) and both cities are really close to my heart. I guess once you’ve lived somewhere for a while it somehow becomes part of who you are. Even more so with New Zealand of course which is definitely my new ‘home of choice’! Some of the most amazing places to visit as a traveller have probably been Argentina (in terms of adventure), Rarotonga (in terms of simple beauty) and Vietnam (in terms of most amazing street food, as well as basically being able to live like a Queen as there is pretty much nothing you can’t afford to do, or buy). I’m already dreaming up my next trip so stay tuned…
5. We asked our Head of Strategy, Trent Paul, who out of the two of you is the most efficient. He said it would be you, hands down. Do you agree?
I feel like agreeing to this would make me sound rather arrogant. I am naturally quite a modest person (even though having to point this out doesn’t necessarily make me sound very modest at all…). Let’s put it this way. I was born and bred in one of the most efficient countries on earth. I’m basically efficient by default. I think Germans have something like the “efficiency gene” so it’s not exactly fair to compare our levels of efficiency to any non-German. It’s an unfair advantage. But I do try hard to live up to the German stereotype 😉
6. What have you done that you’ve been most proud of since you joined the company?
This is a tough one. I’ve done and experienced a lot during my 5 years here at Castleford. I guess I am really proud that I’ve swapped and changed my role so frequently to find something that allows me to use my skills and strengths in the best possible way. I’ve always tried to find ways to get the most out of every role. Not just for myself, but also for the people that I’ve managed over the years. We have a few entry level roles that didn’t use to offer much ‘scope’ but I’ve worked hard to turn them into something bigger and more interesting. Nothing is more rewarding than being able to make a difference for people you work with, even if it’s just on a small scale.
7. What do you like most about working at Castleford?
What I like most about working here are the amazing people I get to work with on a daily basis. So many talented individuals from all around the world. Together with their dedication and creativeness, they bring such amazing personalities that really form the heart and soul of this business. I’ve met some of my closest friends here in New Zealand through Castleford, it’s a very special bond!
8. It’s become well-known around the office that you have a bit of a sweet tooth. Do you have a favourite dessert place in Auckland to share with everyone?
Oh my god YES!!! Have you guys been to ‘Milse’ down at Britomart? It’s a bit of a hidden gem. If you don’t know where it is or can’t find it, give me a shout! We can go on a Castleford field trip! It’s magical!
9. Do you have a favourite moment from your time with Castleford?
I’ve experienced a lot of very special moments during my time here at Castleford. Five years is a long time and a lot has happened during these past years. I think one of my most special moments here was when I returned from Germany last year, after working remotely for over 8 months, and everyone in the office was so excited to see me (well, at least everyone who knew me from before I left!). It’s hard to describe, but it almost felt like coming home…it was really special and it made me realise how much I had missed everyone!