Rachel Peacock recalls an emotional moment during the grand re-opening of the Battersea Power Station on October 14th, when the marketing team she’s worked with since the project began gathered for a group hug. “One of them just said ‘we did it’,” she says. “I’ll never forget that moment”. She expects to feel similarly emotional when walking through the carved waharoa gateway at Auckland Airport, hearing birdsong and familiar accents, when she returns for Christmas in New Zealand after three long years away.
As Senior Marketing Manager for the Battersea Power Station regeneration project, Rachel’s high-paced working life in the lead-up to its opening celebration hasn’t left much time for moments of reflection. Rachel is responsible for promoting the relaunched Power Station as a destination for shopping and hospitality, combined with new parks, offices and living spaces directly on the riverfront. The striking shape of the former power station is an iconic landmark on the London skyline, and its 42-acre site is effectively a new London neighbourhood, with a vibrant events calendar and dozens of innovative concept stores by leading brands like Zara, Adidas and MAC.
Rachel, 34, grew up in Whangarei and Bahrain. Her first job after her studies in marketing at Victoria University of Wellington was at the Sky Tower in Auckland, marketing the bars and restaurants in one of New Zealand’s most distinctive urban landmarks. On arriving in London in June 2018, she registered with an agency and really appreciated the London-specific coaching this offered while applying for jobs. “What surprised me most was the attitude of some employers here - wanting ‘London Experience’ seemed to be a common factor, despite the achievements and roles I had had at home. Often it is just about waiting for someone to take a chance on you.” Her first role at the Heart of London Business Alliance threw her into the bustling centre of London’s business and property development world. Landing her marketing role at Battersea Power Station from early 2020 was an exciting opportunity given the historical and cultural significance of the former power station. Although “as a Kiwi I didn’t know much about it until I read the job spec, I realised straightaway that this project was going to be something really special.”
Rachel is now the main liaison with the various retailers, restaurants and brands involved at Battersea Power Station and its associated high street known as ‘Electric Boulevard’. Her team designed and oversaw the promotion of the recent launch, including a quirky guerilla marketing campaign with paper boys running around the City waving newspapers. After months of preparation for the Power Station’s re-opening, standing with her team on stage to broadcast the dramatic Arcadia Lords of Lightning show on Instagram live was a particular highlight for Rachel. It's been an exhausting, exhilarating ride for everyone involved, but Rachel takes great pride in the positive sentiment surrounding the Battersea Power Station project and the many exciting innovations in the complex. Her insider recommendations for first-time visitors to the Power Station include the surreal Chimney Lift Experience (“Lift 109”) with its stunning 360-degree views - which make you feel “like Charlie from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’” - and the festive ice rink that will be set up soon for the Christmas period.
Outside of work, Rachel has thrown herself into exploring the cultures that make up London (including learning to pronounce ‘Worcestershire Sauce’ properly) and enjoying holidays in Europe, while accepting the increasing disconnect from life back in New Zealand. “You just have to be mentally prepared that you will likely miss things such as your best friend having a baby, or weddings you can’t attend, or a grandparent passing.” She always enjoys meeting other Kiwis in London and often suggests getting to know each other over as many drinks as they have shared friends on Facebook. As for many Kiwis who lived through the Covid lockdowns and upheavals in the UK, the concurrent experience of being ‘locked down’ and ‘locked out’ made Rachel feel quite cut-off from home. The inaccessibility of the MiQ quarantine system during the pandemic, combined with some negative public commentary directed towards expats in NZ’s media, left her feeling unwelcome to return to New Zealand. Although listening to Kiwi music, cooking foods from home and the ongoing connections with friends and family are still extremely meaningful for her, her life is now more firmly centred in the UK.
Despite the inevitable trade-offs that come with living overseas, Rachel’s advice to incoming Kiwi women is “just do it! Make the leap. It’s one of the best things I have ever done for myself, my career and my growth personally. I don’t know if or when I will move back to New Zealand, but I do know it will be very, very hard to leave".