First line management training helps combat imposter syndrome

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Te Rina (Taranaki, Tainui, Hineuru and Te Atiawa) was the Executive Manager at WITT Te Pūkenga for about eight years. It was a role she flourished in, but she still had inner doubts.

“I always had the imposter syndrome and (questioned) how to approach different situations around staff,” she says.

According to, imposter syndrome often affects people who are driven and successful. “It’s characterised by a sense of dread or anxiety that you’ll be found out as a fraud who doesn’t deserve your success.”

Te Rina managed the Board, the Chief Executive, management team and all the administration, including having the administrators of WITT’s four schools reporting to her.

“Because I like to get my fingers in all the pies, I was involved in operations across the campus.”

During this time, she had three babies and was supported to return to work by her partner, Darren Roebuck, who left his job to care for their pēpi (babies).

In 2021, she chose to do WITT’s NZ Certificate in Business in First Line Management (Level 4). “I felt like a bit of a refresher and because I worked here for so long, I never had time to have a qualification,” she says, although that’s how her time at WITT began, but we’ll get to that.

“I took on 10 new staff then, so I decided I needed to do something,” she says.

The programme, led by tutor Linda Cox, involved two-day block courses three times a year, during which Te Rina says she learned invaluable lessons on “how to approach my staff in different situations, including disciplinary. I had issues with  staff and that (the course) was really helpful”.

Te Rina also learnt about setting up professional development plans for her staff and “how to shift them into a different phase of thinking in terms of their
working style and building up their confidence”.

“I wanted them to be a certain level, so I put my whole team through this – it was part of their KPIs to do the course. They all grew from being average administrators to owning their areas and building up their own skills.”

But working towards the certificate, Te Rina learnt her most valuable lesson – that she was the real deal, was already doing the job and even leading change.

She took a year out of her Executive Manager role to help WITT move from a paper-and-post enrolment system to a digital automation enrolment process. “If I see a better way of doing something, I will do it. That was one of my highlights – it took a long time and a lot of convincing.”

Te Rina even took her team to Whitireia and Weltec (now Te Pūkenga) in Wellington to see digital enrolments in action. “This polytech can do it and they aren’t broken.”

She also helped organise the graduation ceremonies every year and delighted in  seeing kaimahi Māori (staff) and rangatahi become graduates, especially “all the ones who thought they would never make it”.

In February 2022, it was her turn to cross the stage to receive her Certificate in Business in First Line Management. “I recommend all administrators should do it for their personal growth and to get them to the next level. That’s why I got my team to do it and so they had a qualification if they ever left WITT.”

Te Rina began working for WITT in 2014, after completing a Certificate in Business Administration at the polytech. “Then the teachers put me forward for a job here,” she says, sitting in Te Kāuta Café at the bottom of B Block on the Bell Street campus.

Earlier this year, she left WITT, equipped with experience, a qualification and a taonga – a pounamu double-headed breastplate Manaia which she wears with pride. The gift represents strength, leadership and protection.

In June, she became an Executive Assistant at Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand, for Director Workforce Planning and Development, supporting the future growth of the health workforce.

“I work for John Snook,” she says of the former WITT Chief Executive, who led the institution from January 2019 to November 2022.

“Always having his support really grew my confidence in doing what I needed to do. That’s why I followed him – he’s not a hierarchical boss. We are all just people.”

The 38-year-old says she’s still involved in education, making sure the degrees within health, nationwide, are fit for purpose and appropriate for the future of the

The learning-focused wāhine toa, who went to Spotswood Primary, Devon Intermediate and New Plymouth Girls’ High Schools, is also on the school board at Waitara East Primary School.

“I’m always looking to do better for myself, my family and always have Māori  success at front of mind.”

Reprinted from the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Taranaki Business Review

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