Wayfinding Covid-19

At the moment, we are quite rightly relying on experts to guide us through Covid-19. According to author and university professor Tom Nichols, sneering at experts was easy until a pandemic arrived, and Covid-19 has forced people back to accepting that expertise matters. Professor of sociology and author Eric Klinenberg says it will force us to reconsider who we are and what we value, and, in the long run, it could help us rediscover the better version of ourselves. That’s why the expertise of career professionals matters now more than ever.

As career practitioners, we are trained in supporting people to reflect on skills, interests and values, and to navigate the journey of self-discovery. The challenge is that often people think they just have a job, not a career. Also, people sometimes assume our focus is helping people update their CV to seek or change jobs. That is important in wayfinding the lifelong journey that is career. However, for managing change, it’s our process of supporting people to reflect, explore, create strategies and implement action plans that makes a difference.  

To find out more about how people are managing change during Covid-19, I talked with my friend Andrew – family man, construction company owner and generally wise human. He makes insightful comments regarding what’s different about decision-making in today’s changing world, and why expertise matters. To mix a few metaphors, I think he nails it. Watch below.

Dr Val O’Reilly is an Executive Director of The Career Development Company. Keep an eye on our homepage for updates on our response to Covid-19. #career #wayfinding


Finding our way

I wrote last month, from my perspective as a career professional, about navigation and wayfinding as powerful metaphors for the life journey that is your career. The pandemic was then, a few short weeks ago, mainly of concern at a distance and not an immediate career development issue here in Auckland, let alone Aotearoa New Zealand. How quickly circumstances can change. The ripples from Covid-19 have morphed into devastating waves that are pushing us to rethink our daily lives from local, national and international perspectives.

Wayfinding through the disruptions

Precedents of influenza pandemics in the last two centuries mean the present conditions are not entirely unchartered waters. Nonetheless, the real and immediate effects of the coronavirus are demanding that governments, organisations, and individuals themselves take pragmatic and innovative steps to ensure wellbeing and protect livelihoods.

A career development response to what may be a “new normal” of disruptions in employment and social connections this year can draw on tried and true methods for supporting people to solve problems in navigating their career journey. In addition, use of digital technologies will increasingly be needed to guide people, who may require support at a distance, through the necessary steps of reflecting, exploring, creating strategies and implementing action plans.

Dr Val O’Reilly is an Executive Director of The Career Development Company

Lessons from the AI ecosystem

Somewhat ironically, the ongoing conversations/debates about the impact of AI and robots on jobs of the future may have already prepared us to navigate socially just ways for addressing the likely impacts of the pandemic on people’s career development. My involvement in the AI Forum NZ working group on law, ethics and society has afforded me the opportunity to hear and share views about the role of government, public and private sectors, and the collective responsibility of AI stakeholders to design, develop and use AI systems to promote the wellbeing of New Zealanders. Our working group recently published a set of guiding principles for trustworthy AI in Aotearoa New Zealand. A key focus was to make sure the principles are simple, succinct and user-friendly.

To find socially just solutions for the complex career development and labour market challenges emerging from the pandemic, the five AI principles could be useful compass points: Fairness and Justice; Reliability, Security and Privacy; Transparency; Human oversight and Accountability; and Wellbeing.





Kindness is calming, so as we find our way through the present disruptions wherever we live, let’s look out for and be kind to one another, and especially for those who are vulnerable.

I’m encouraged that developing a particular mindset about life, ourselves, and the future is a trending topic. It deserves the attention. Stanford University psychologist and researcher Carole Dweck writes and speaks about the growth mindset, which describes how our self-concepts make a difference in our lives. The impact of different mindsets on achievement and interpersonal processes is also of concern for career professionals. Helping people to better understand themselves and their work preferences can be more complex in times of labour market uncertainty.  

 The 4th Industrial Revolution (4.0) 

A wayfinding mindset is well worth considering for supporting and successfully navigating careers in this age of 4.0, where the blurring of boundaries between technology and the physical and biological worlds precipitates disruptions. In addition to the transformative potential of wayfinding as an approach to leadership, wayfinding and navigation are powerful metaphors for the life journeys that are our careers.

A brief account of wayfinding 

Urban designers, geographers, and sailors, to name a few, would be familiar with wayfinding as an approach to solving problems of how people orient themselves and navigate from place to place. Early Polynesian voyagers undertook journeys using scientific navigation methods that saw them successfully travel across vast expanses of ocean. They used this same wayfinding knowledge to reach Aotearoa New Zealand centuries ago. The voyagers carefully observed their environment, using traditional ways of knowing and being to “read” the stars, the winds and ocean currents, and the natural life in their surroundings. Guided also by the wisdom of their ancestors, they sought new horizons with courage and determination. They were astute problem-solvers, adapting as they went along—exploring, discovering, oftentimes settling. And importantly, they were able to retrace their journeys to pass on their knowledge to new generations.  

Adopting a wayfinding mindset  

More recently, the successful revitalisation of wayfinding has inspired innovations not only for ocean journeys without modern instruments, but for new ways of thinking about business, design, leadership, and career development. The rationale for adopting a wayfinding mindset rests on the problem-solving skills needed to successfully navigate from place to place, including in careers, where job titles are now like shifting sands.  

The characteristics of successful early and contemporary ocean wayfinders provide inspiration for navigating careers in the age of 4.0:  

  • adaptability  
  • environmental awareness 
  • grit and resilience 
  • mindfulness about responsibilities
  • open-mindedness and curiosity  
  • respect for cultural and spiritual dimensions  
  • support for others to thrive 
  • thirst for learning 

Career professionals adopting (and helping clients develop) a wayfinding mindset in the New Zealand context will find the wayfinding principles of respect for self, others, and the environment are well-aligned with the Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ) Code of Ethics.

The team at The Career Development Company have adopted and promote a Wayfinding Mindset as a systematic approach to career development that draws on expert knowledge, clear thinking for solving problems, and a collaborative approach to managing life’s complexities.

RECI® model

The RECI® model is our unique wayfinder solution, with four practical steps that support both individuals and organisations to make sense of career: Reflect, Explore, Create strategies, and Implement action plans. To learn more, visit The CDC.







Dr Val O’Reilly is an Executive Director of  The Career Development Company   

Transitions are part of life. The Cambridge dictionary defines transitions as “a change from one form or type to another, or the process by which this happens”. We are in transition, or going from one form to another throughout our lives. Our many milestones include starting kindy, primary or secondary school, going to university, leaving home, moving cities, starting a new job, traveling overseas, getting married, having a family, etc. The list goes on! And then we have those sudden and unpredictable transitions that we didn’t see coming such as having a medical incident, losing someone close, losing our job, having an accident.

Whatever the transition we face, positive or negative, there is a period of adjustment to allow movement from the old to the new, to learn new skills, new ways of being, and letting go of what no longer works, to adapt to the new reality.

How quickly and effectively someone moves from the old to the new depends on many things. These include the current mindset of the individual, their existing skills, knowledge and experience, their resilience to embrace change and adapt to the new, and the amount of support they are given to do this.

Let’s add the word ‘career’ to ‘transitions’. The contemporary definition of career encompasses an individual’s whole of life with the many roles, paid and unpaid, that are part of this. With this in mind, we can say that all transitions are then part of an individual’s career, across their lifetime.

The topic of career transition is close to my heart, having faced a number of significant transitions in my lifetime, each requiring huge adjustments, learning and resilience. My experience of redundancy is what I would like to share my learnings about here.

Back in the nineties when I was working for an insurance company, I was part of the HR team managing the restructure of the organisation. Subsequently I became one of the many facing redundancy, and it certainly was unexpected. This experience has been invaluable in giving me first-hand experience of the emotional journey, the ups and downs in this process, and learning how to best navigate these. I have since had the privilege of working with many individuals and organisations going through a restructure, and have supported those affected individuals to move through the process and positively transition into the next part of their journey. So, what have I learned?

Career transitions relating to restructure and redundancy are emotional experiences for all involved –  the individuals affected, the remaining employees as well as the employer. How the transition process is handled can have an enormous impact on how quickly and effectively the individual moves positively through the transition and into the next phase of their career. The adjustment by those who are left, and their resultant engagement, motivation and productivity, will also be affected. And of course the organisation’s reputation could be impacted by the perceptions of how they have handled this restructure, how it was communicated and what support was given to all concerned.

Therefore having the support needed to be able to successfully manage and transition into the next part of the journey, is imperative, with the impact of not having support being potentially harmful. 

When an individual is faced with redundancy and consequent career transition, often the first reaction will be emotional shock. This can take time to work through and there are a number of emotional, psychological and physical responses that may occur, such as anxiety, guilt, anger, apathy, sleeplessness, panic attacks, lack of energy, depression, and loss of self- confidence. Support at this stage helps the individual to work through these responses in a healthy way, put strategies in place, and enables an increase in confidence and the skills and knowledge to transition smoothly to the next stage.

For those who remain, the distress they may be feeling for their transitioning colleagues, the guilt of being the ones who remain, and the uncertainty of their workplace, will certainly have an impact on engagement and productivity.  Support to debrief about the loss of what was, allowing them the space to work through what will now be, and reassurance that they will receive ongoing support, will certainly assist in establishing a committed and positive workforce.

Restructure is challenging and can cause significant disruption to the workplace. However it can be done in ways that ensure that all who are affected are treated with respect and integrity. An organisation that recognises this, and ensures communication is as open, clear, and as inclusive as practical, and provides the appropriate support to staff as needed, will likely minimise the disruption as well as positively reinforce the reputation of the organisation to the current staff, those who transition, and to the marketplace.

In my experience, ensuring there is support for all those who are affected by change and transition has certainly been a wise investment and allowed the affected, the remaining and the organisation to move through the restructure as positively as possible.

If you are going through a restructure or facing a career transition and would like to find out about the support that we offer, please enquire here.

Caroline Sandford is an Executive Director of The Career Development Company

The simple act of flipping through the calendar can provide motivation to take stock of your life. For some it is flipping the calendar at the beginning of the year, for others it is when you flip the calendar for a significant birthday or a work anniversary.

My first client in 2020 came with two pending calendar flips in mind – ‘I’m turning 50 this year and I’ve been too long in the same job. I need to make a major career change to enjoy the next 15 years at work’.

It can feel daunting, but you won’t be alone in actively seeking a career change. In the Productivity Commission series of reports on technology and future of work they state that about ½ a million people change jobs every year in New Zealand (20% of the workforce), and of these, more than half change industry.

There are a number of concerns and needs to work through. A key one is understanding the transferability of experience, skills and achievements to different roles and workplaces. This takes a combination of activities to reflect on an individual’s strengths and to explore what is possible, and ultimately take the leap to test the job market by applying for the positions that generate some excitement or ‘pull’ factor.

Another key concern is age and life circumstance. Recent research by Professor David Blanchflower, with an interview on RNZ,  uses a U-shaped happiness curve to describe the possible reasons we hit a happiness low at age 47. Circumstances differ greatly for each person – the labour market they are in, the employment history they have, whether they are partnered or single, their care-giving responsibilities (of all ages), and what financial assets they have. And most importantly, what is meaningful to them and gives them fulfilment in life. If you’re concerned about job seeking as an ‘older worker’ you might find the Stats NZ report on Workers Aged 55+ helpful.


If flipping of the calendar triggers a sense of disquiet, think about what support you need to reflect and reset your goals. Here’s an activity that might help.

Life Visioning Activity

Allow yourself 20 minutes of quiet time to ponder and write your answers to these questions below. Really let your imagination flow – don’t analyse as you go, just put pen to paper and see what happens. Your answers should provide clues for what you need to change to realise this life vision.

Imagine you are happy and healthy and 80 years old. You’re sitting in your favourite chair in your favourite place and looking back over your ideal life.

  • Who are you as a person? What is it about you that people value?
  • What have you achieved? What are you proud of?
  • What has added meaning to your life and gives you a sense of fulfilment?
  • How have areas of your life unfolded?
    • Relationships (significant other, family, friends, community)
    • Career (paid and unpaid work and learning)
    • Health (physical, emotional, spiritual)
    • Fun and leisure
  • Finally, from this chair at age 80 what can you see and hear around you right now that makes you truly happy?

It’s never too late to make changes in areas of your life. You can find a lot of information and tools online, talk to people you know and trust, and seek out the specialists who can help. If you want to know more about support for making a career change contact The Career Development Company.

Julie Thomas is an Executive Director of The Career Development Company.


One of the keys to understanding yourself better (an essential part in making good decisions for yourself), is to understand more about your personality. There are a number of different theories and tools around, but one that I have found incredibly useful, and user friendly, is Personality Type, based on the work of Carl Jung (1875 – 1961).

Understanding preferences

As part of my career work with individuals, I help them to understand their personality preferences, which enables them to gain an insight into the work environment that supports them to be who they are, the interactions they prefer to have with people, and the types of activities they find engaging. The options that are considered can then be evaluated in terms of what will work best for that individual.

A popular inventory that is used to find out an individual’s personality preference is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) which was developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers.

Working together

 I have recently had the privilege of running team workshops on personality type, within organisations. Running workshops with a team has many advantages. Not only does each individual gain an insight into their own working style, communication, decision making, leadership and problem-solving preferences, but also gains an insight into how team mates prefer to be, and from that, develops an appreciation of the richness of working together.

Take care when interpreting results

One thing that I always raise with both individuals and groups, is the importance of taking the relevant and useful information from any assessment that they complete, and separating this from what isn’t relevant. I get very concerned when I hear situations where the results of an assessment have been used as the sole factor to make a decision, such as in some recruitment decisions. Information derived from these assessments should be used in conjunction with information from other sources, and if discrepant information is gained, it signals further investigation may be required. Great care should be taken to not place undue weight on assessment findings or predict performance in another setting. Practitioners should also be competent and appropriately trained to use the assessment with a client.

The outcomes from assessments can add insight and result in the development of useful strategies to make decisions and work effectively. And they can also be used in unsafe and harmful ways if not administered and interpreted correctly.

Important questions

If you are wanting to complete an individual assessment, or organise a workshop for your team, there are some questions I encourage you to ask:

  1. Is the assessment structured and standardised, with validity (the degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations and relevance of assessment results in the proposed use of the assessment), and reliability (the consistency of measurements obtained on an assessment when the assessment procedure is repeated on a population of individuals or groups).
  2. Is the practitioner qualified to administer and interpret the assessment?
  3. What is their experience with this assessment?
  4. Do they adhere to a Code of Ethics?

Contact  Caroline  (caroline@thecdc.nz) if you would like to know more about Personality Type and how it could be of value to you.

Caroline Sandford is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company

Who am I?

I recently attended a children’s birthday party where the mother had cleverly (and perhaps bravely) created a warm-up game based on the popular “Who Am I?” game. It is essentially a guessing game where players use yes or no questions to guess the identity of a famous person. The children all lined up to receive their party hat with the name of a friend placed on it. Each child had to ask questions of others to be able to identify the person on their hat. The one rule was that they weren’t to ask any questions related to physical appearance. Quite challenging, I thought, for eight-year-olds but what struck me was how quickly the children were able to determine ‘who they were’, by using some pretty sophisticated questioning related to traits, quirks, and preferences.

Understanding ourselves

As we are confronted with constant system change, technological and political developments, mass-migration, shifts in workplace expectations (“Should I be a specialist? A generalist? Or the new specialist-generalist?”), impacts of business liquidations, mergers, restructuring and retrenching; our understanding of who we are becomes more complex. Furthermore, what happens when people doubt their career decisions, or just want a change, or are faced with losing their job, their role or business, which has formed a major part of their identity? “Who am I if I am no longer a …?”. For some, considering this question might feel like an ideal opportunity to reinvent themselves, while others might be totally at a loss for what comes next. Either way, they’ve got to know who they are to figure out where they’re going… or, indeed, who they could become.

Career journeys unfold

How simple life would be if we could just put our name on a hat and get others to work out who we are! As I consider this as a career practitioner looking back on my own career journey unfurling, I realise there were key moments where I too questioned my identity: as a young person finding my way through those awkward years as a teenager coupled with a complicated upbringing; as a student teacher finding my own voice; as a new-New Zealander proving my worth as a teacher in a new country, and later, as I went through my own career pivot, as I left teaching and reflected on “if I am not a teacher, then who am I?” Although my career identity as a teacher was very much part of who I understood myself to be, it was an exciting shift into the world of industry training. Further on, as a new mother I questioned how I balance family and career. More questions surfaced as I left the relative security of full-time employment for the precarious world of contracting while undertaking post-graduate study; and then finally into private practice, and now as one of the founding Executive Directors of The Career Development Company.

Recurring themes

A key theme weaving through my own journey is change. Not necessarily change in who I am innately, but rather an awareness of who I am as I respond within those dynamic contexts. Ultimately, we all learn more about ourselves as we experience change – sometimes this learning is subliminal rather than overt; and it is often only when this is reflected back to us through dialogue, that we can better understand who we are and who we could become. Dialogue helps challenge our assumptions, concepts and identities (of career and self), and requires us to feel, observe, talk about and reflect on our experiences and in-so-doing reframe our experiences so we can navigate career more responsively and meaningfully.

The RECI TM process

Career practitioners at The CDC use this constructivist, dialogical approach within a carefully constructed framework to help clients reflect first and foremost on who they are, so that they are able to explore opportunities, and create and activate meaningful strategies in times of change.  Check us out on www.thecdc.nz and email us: connect@thecdc.nz.


Amanda Smidt is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company


What does decluttering have in common with Supervision? Here’s my take on it. Now is the time of year when the festive season is rushing up on us and it prompts us to reflect on key events of the year just gone and hopes for the new year ahead. For me it’s also been the time for decluttering my home office. That activity led me to think about reflective career practice.

Decision time

If you’ve undertaken study recently you’ll recognise the symptoms even if you’re committed to the paperless office concept: books piling up on the desk and shelves, stacks of printed articles that might come in handy, random notes scribbled in aha moments, and pens you didn’t throw out in case they might still work…and the list goes on. After six years of accumulation and my PhD completed, I felt ready to clear the space. The first stage of the mission is now accomplished-and with it a sense of major satisfaction!

What I noticed was that tidying, sorting (e.g., repurposing the back of old journal articles as notepaper) and throwing out and letting go unnecessary stuff left me feeling uplifted and ready to think about what’s ahead. I even had room to let some new things into the space.

Reflecting and reframing

And when I reflect on my office declutter, I see how Supervision is a form of decluttering that we undergo each time we supervise and are supervised; a process of orderly reflecting and reframing, and especially for the supervisee, clearing away unhelpful “stuff” to make way for the “new”. The big difference was that in my office declutter I didn’t have a trusted person giving me undivided attention and supporting me to make informed decisions as I agonised over the choice of “bin?” or “keep?” for the scraps of paper, dog-eared folders or near-empty pens taking up valuable space in my work environment. In addition, Supervision isn’t something you’d do just once every six years!

This year, as a newly formed for-profit social enterprise, The Career Development Company (The CDC) implemented Peer Supervision for us as a team and provision of Professional Supervision to facilitate learning and support useful reflection for career practitioners. We’ve experienced those supervision modes in our previous practices and it made sense to have both in our new venture, especially with our team member Julie having completed a Level 7 Professional Supervision and Workplace Coaching qualification.

Supervision process

In our monthly Peer Supervision sessions, which allow each team member to share themes/issues or incidents in an allocated time, we follow a process outlined by our colleague Robyn Bailey in her workshops for CDANZ:

  • Allocate roles – Facilitator – Timekeeper – Respectful of rules and uninterrupted space • Allocate the time • Check-in • Decide the focus for the session • Share time equally • Listen well • Discuss – Identify the issue – Focus on the future – Identify strengths, resources, exception – Constraints, obstacles, barriers – Feedback – What now • Summarise • End the session

Similar to my office decluttering, the Peer Supervision session leaves me feeling uplifted and ready to focus on the next step. If you are seeking support to get started with your peer supervision or need to refresh your approach, let The CDC team know. We also offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss your Professional Supervision needs. Check us out on www.thecdc.nz and email us: connect@thecdc.nz

Dr Val O’Reilly is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company.

What is going to be different about 2020?
Are you new to having career conversations with staff or experienced and wanting to refresh your approach?

The longer summer days and varying pace of life over the festive season are ideal for gaining perspective on your own career, as well as your manager role and how best to support the career journey of your staff.  

Speaking from 20 years of management experience, the demands of manager roles are wide ranging, the tasks can seem endless, and there are times when balancing the needs of the organisation with those of the employee can feel near impossible.

The good news is that there are myriad excellent development options for managers at all levels, including the essential skill of coaching. But the less favourable news is that for many managers the pressure is on coaching for performance of essential tasks in the shorter term rather than on coaching for the long-term goals and needs of the employee and organisation.

It was with this in mind that The Career Development Company has developed a programme to help equip managers with the skills and knowledge needed to have effective career conversations in the workplace. There is strong evidence that these conversations are one of the most important factors in building, motivating and developing highly skilled and committed employees. For example, in the 2015  Right Management Global Career Conversation Study , 4,402 respondents from 15 countries including New Zealand, responded to the question ‘If career conversations were more regular?’ with:

  • I would be more engaged with the work that I do – 82%
  • I would be more likely to share my ideas – 78%
  • I would be more likely to look for opportunities for career growth at my current employer -76%
  • I would be more likely to stay with my current employer – 75%
Tips for leading effective career conversations

I recently ran workshops with divisional groups of managers in a large government organisation where the following tips were applied. Although the value of career conversations was already accepted at this organisation, the challenge is to continue to improve the systems that support career conversations and to learn a simple framework for consistent practice.

Tip 1: Reflect on existing practices

Take some time to reflect on the processes that support career conversations in your organisation, and to reflect on your own recent career conversations. What is working well? What are the areas for improvement? What and who might help you make these improvements?

Tip 2: Have a structure for your conversations

You may already have a structure you use. Here’s a snapshot of The Career Development Company framework to compare or consider using:

  • Prepare well then start well – find a time that works for both of you, set expectations about both coming well prepared. Start in a welcoming way, outline the process and agree on the focus of the meeting.
  • Reflect on who they are – support each person to manage and develop their own career by asking questions that help them to reflect on who they are to better understand themselves.
  • Explore possibilities – help them examine ideas about possible future directions within the organisation, and outside the organisation if internal opportunities are limited.
  • Create strategies and implement action – discuss how they might develop their skills and capabilities, and encourage them to set career goals and develop an action plan. Provide ongoing support with implementing their plan. You may agree to offer specialist support such as external career coaching.
Tip 3: Update your own development plan

Effective career conversations contribute to improved staff engagement and retention. If you have identified learning needs from reading this Blog, you may like to add these to your development plan as a manager.

Contact The CDC (connect@thecdc.nz) to discuss how we can assist you and your organisation to thrive.


Julie Thomas is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company.

“…a series of informative and supportive seminars designed to assist students, families and schools in their career journey.”

Careers Expo

Just announced…we’re volunteering our time and expertise at this year’s Careers Expo. Watch for updates in the coming weeks about the seminars we’ll be presenting and read articles from us in the next JETmag.


The Expo has joined with The Career Development Company to bring a series of informative and supportive seminars designed to assist students, families and schools in their career journey.