First year career in the cave of endless stories

I was hired on instinct by a great woman with experience and international cred out the wazoo.  This was my first REAL job - the kind i'd done tertiary education to get, but the job itself was unheard of. There was no rule book and no job description.  Perhaps this is because most academic institutions haven't realised the value of telling their applied research stories. Yet.

I took on the vaguer than vague brief of 'tell our Research & Enterprise stories to everyone' with unbounded enthusiasm. However, after a few months of honeymooning reality hit home. This job was much bigger than I'd fathomed. 

If you imagine an institution of this size as a body of water. It is definitely the result of several mergers.

A few glacial rivers at its source, some rapid and turbid streams in the mix, and hundreds of calm creeks, and hidden springs. They converge and diffuse and create one deep, wide, and slow flowing industrial river.

Armed with only a bucket I was meant to scoop up those stories and splash them everywhere. 

I strongly believe this kind of role was and still is needed because I found the river's stories to be diverse, complex, and plentiful - engineering, design, occupational therapy, industrial design, web development, information technology, nursing, sports and adventure, art, food design, community engagement and health and well-being.

I'm proud of the stories I captured on film (there are a few links below), in blog posts, awards submissions, press releases, tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn write ups and even a book - I wasn't able to catch them all. Not even close.  

There weren't nearly enough bridges or buckets. With over 700 applied research projects happening every year and no budget for marketing, the unrealistic nature of my task was pretty disheartening. I learned that the vast majority of stories would just have to float on by. I would have to resist the urge to dive in after them or dream about the way I might've shot them.

This job was intellectually enriching, skill stretching, but ultimately deeply frustrating.

I emerged a little less green, and a lot more experienced. But more than anything else I came out of this job fired up to try and crack open the story chest of our institutions and research organisations. They are a GOLD MINE of important and very relevant stories. 


Poppy's Chair was a shooting challenge as the chair evolved and was worked on over several months. The mentoring of the intern filmmaker was the joy of this project.

Shot and edited in a week this whirlwind project supported the South Island Information Technology pitch to the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment.

Capturing an objective perspective on my academic area of interest in the strategy to implementation gap.

Science communication, exhibition design, filmmaking - this project tickled my fancy is so many ways.