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Winning poker strategies, interesting food choices and a 5 year Castleversary: Q&A with Head of Strategy, Trent Paul

To celebrate his 5 years at Castleford, this week we had a chat with Trent Paul our Head of Strategy.

Given that Trent has so much history with the company – there was a lot to talk about!

He told us about using strategy in poker, discussed some of his memories from his time here and also recalled the strangest subjects he has worked on for clients.


1. This month you will celebrate five years of being a Castlefordian. Looking back on your time here, what are some of your greatest achievements?

It would have to be my progress through the company to where I am today. 5 years ago I started at the bottom, and now my role involves being part of decisions which impact the business as a whole – something I never imagined would happen so quickly.

This obviously doesn’t happen without support, and I’m very thankful to the people who have helped me along the way.

2. For some time at the beginning of your employment here, staff referred to you as ‘Tret’. Why is that?

It wasn’t so much the ‘staff’, but Adam, our company Director. Adam (who has an extensive journalistic background), misspelt my name on my first day. It’s now been 5 years and he still refuses to change his contact entry of me to the correct spelling.

3. Yourself and our resident German, Natalie Gruner, started here only one month apart. Who would you say is the most efficient?

Natalie, hands-down. I have never worked with someone as efficient as her. I’m definitely a tier below!

4. Apple products. Do you have any thoughts on them?

What’s the saying? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

5. Rumour has it that on flights between our Auckland and Sydney offices you like to book seats for the management team in the same row. Do you just really like spending time together?

I thought to myself, “at least it will be better than sitting next to strangers”. I was very wrong. The first flight together wasn’t too bad, but a flight back to Sydney after a long week in Auckland was like taking care of two infants on a sugar high. Never again.

6. When we interviewed Managing Editor, Greg Roughan, we asked him about his poker playing skills. Turns out, you’re the real card shark of the company… can you tell us about your skills and how you learnt?

It wouldn’t make sense to be the Head of Strategy without being good at a highly strategic game like poker! I played a lot of card games when I was younger and poker was introduced amongst them. Many people think poker is a game of luck, but while there is an element of luck, the best players understand how math-heavy the game is and how strategic you need to be to win.

My biggest tip is to always be nice to the bad players. You don’t want to insult them as they will a) get better at the game, or b) never play with you again. Both are things you do not want. (I can’t wait to see who at Castleford thinks I am talking about them!)

7. We work with a big range of clients. What’s the most unusual subject you’ve worked on?

I worked on a ghost tours client which isn’t really unusual, but some of the topics we wrote about were very bizarre. I also worked on a client who provided the service of ‘sludge dewatering’ which involved extracting drinking water out of sludge to bottle and sell.

8. Some have said that your food choices are a little… unusual. Care to elaborate?

I wouldn’t say unusual. Just plain, nothing too fancy, nothing spicy, no weird textures, no exotic flavours, no cold sandwiches, no fancy or creamy desserts, no onion, no tomato – not unusual at all.

9. We have a strong office culture at Castleford, and many of the staff here are friends as well as colleagues. Then there’s yourself and Kate Davidson, our Commercial Director. How would you describe your relationship?

Not many people believe this, but when Kate started at Castleford we got along like a cat slipping into a bathtub. I had already been here for a year and Kate bought some big changes with her – many of which I didn’t agree with. We both could not stand each other.

Eventually, we realised that our very different skillsets and personalities actually complement each other very well.

Kate has been one of those people who supported me from day one (well… almost day one), and I owe a lot of my success to her.

10. If you could go back to your first day at Castleford, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Try to be less awkward, especially in your first week. I guess I can’t say that without telling a story, so here it goes…

I was just a week into the job and my team wanted to go out for coffee. It was the first time I got to be part of the group on a coffee run. Unfortunately, I got very comfortable in my chair to the point where I had crossed my feet and had them rested behind the desk between the wall and the desk backing. I somehow managed to get myself stuck and couldn’t pull my feet out for a good few minutes. I’ve never felt so embarrassed.

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