I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand. My father was a civil servant and my mum was what is now referred to as a home-maker. My childhood was uneventful, we lived in the same home, I went to good local schools where I enjoyed schoolwork and sports.
My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was 16, and died the following year, as I started my final year at high school. He was 51 when he died, and I was old enough to understand that there was no money, and although we had our house and some income, Mum had to return to work. This had a profound impact on me. I did complete my final year at school, but despite strong interventions from teachers and even my headmistress at Christchurch Girls High School, I made the decision to not pursue a university education but instead get out into the world and earn money. From that point, I became a compulsive saver and financial independence was my goal.
My first job was a receptionist for a computer bureau. This was in 1977, and very early in the evolution of computers in NZ. But it gave my resume a great kick start, and every job I applied for after that, the computer experience got me across the line, as so few candidates had it at the time. During this time I got married to Murray, who had also worked at the computer bureau.
Over the next few years I had roles at a private hospital, a property developer, and an importing firm. For six months I worked in the civilian team at Operation Deep Freeze, the US Navy base which supported the US Antarctic programme in Christchurch.
I spent six years at a consulting engineering firm in Christchurch. It was a sort of Office Manager role, where I did everything from Reception to payroll, book-keeping, as well as personal assistant to the two partners. I was devastated when I was fired from the role after returning from a vacation. I was urged by some senior colleagues to seek legal recourse as there were no grounds for dismissal, but I chose instead to move on.
My marriage had broken down the year before, and I had purchased a small house out by the beach in Christchurch. I had met Brendan while working at the engineering firm, and after my marriage broke down, we had started dating. He left to go to England to work, and after I lost my job he suggested I try temp work, to prepare me to follow him to London. In early 1989, I rented my house, sold my car, and flew to London.
After temping for six months I landed a temporary role at Inmarsat, an internationally owned satellite communications organization. This turned into a permanent role as Executive Assistant to the Director General, and by the end of 1990 I had bought an apartment in London and was earning good money, a lot of which I was sending back to NZ to pay off my Christchurch house, which I did within a couple of years.
In 1995 Inmarsat restructured, and my boss moved to start up a new business to develop a hand held satellite phone, the company was called ICO. He asked me to move with him, which I did. My role expanded, and as well as supporting him, I was also supporting the Board of Directors. This involved arranging their meetings which initially happened every month, all over the world.
During the next four years I visited over 50 countries, often flying first class, staying in some of the most famous hotels, and enjoying incredible hospitality from ICO’s international board members. I paid off my London apartment and after five years in London, now owned outright two properties on opposite sides of the world.
But all good things come to an end. At the end of 1997 my 10 year relationship with Brendan broke up by mutual agreement, ironically because he wanted children and I did not. My boss could see the writing on the wall for his role at ICO, and had warned me I may lose my job also. Around this time, I had taken a break and flown to Cayman Brac for a diving holiday and some personal reflection. It was here that Ted and I met.
It was a huge decision to walk away from my boss, as he was going through a horrific time with his board, but it was he who encouraged me to take the opportunity and go sailing away with Ted. One of my dear friends from Inmarsat agreed to return to work to look after him during his final months there, and again I rented out my home, and took a one way flight towards a new adventure.
Ted and I sailed for a few months through Cuba and Florida, then did a 6 week road trip across the southern states in the US, and then flew to NZ where we spent 6 months renovating my Christchurch house. Ted returned to Florida where he got a job, and I joined him a couple of months later, renting the house again.
But I couldn’t work in the US, so I returned to London and picked up a role for an online recruitment business. Again it was a blended role, starting as Executive Assistant to the CEO, with some Investor Relations, and then Marketing, PR and even HR tasks were added as people left the struggling company.
Then 9/11 happened, and started a rethink of priorities. Ted was miserable in London, and we made the move back to NZ, settling in Auckland. I re-entered the corporate world, and spent five years working at Ernst & Young, and another five years at Grant Thornton. My final role in NZ was at AMP, a large Australian insurance and investment company, where I worked for 4 years in the office of the Managing Director.
I had sold the London apartment after being back in NZ for several years. I hit the top of the market, and brought the money back to NZ at a 3:1 exchange rate. The Christchurch property survived the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, and once the market stabilized there, I sold that as well.
We had started our Nordhavn planning when I left Grant Thornton in December 2012. I got a payout and for the next four years we lived on one salary and saved all of the other. I left AMP one week before we flew out of Auckland to Florida to move aboard Southern Star.
I had turned 30 in Christchurch, reflecting on a broken marriage, a lost job, and with no idea what my future held. I turned 40 in New York with my four best friends from Inmarsat, flying over from London on my accumulated airmiles. I turned 50 in Hawaii with Ted and with one of those friends and her husband. Ted and I both turned 60 onboard Southern Star.
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