Our Stories: Adrienne Pitts

Written by Tracy Goodall.

AP smallAdrienne Pitts visited London for the first time at the age of 16 and knew it was never a place she could live. Cold, grey and unwelcoming were the abiding impressions of her six days there during an arts and classics tour of Europe.

Fast forward 25 years, a slew of design and photography awards, an enviable Instagram following and a successful career as an internationally renowned photographer, and after a decade of calling London “home” she can’t imagine living anywhere else. Her original plan, when she headed there after a relationship ended, was to stay for maybe a year, but as many readers of these pages will know from their own experience, that infamous “just one year” vow is made to be broken.

Although it’s her work as a photographer she is best known for today, she has also forged a reputation as an outstanding art director, even if initially she assumed this field would play second fiddle to a career in photography. Graduating from Massey Wellington with a Bachelor of Design, a photography major and an alarming student loan, her timing was distinctly off. It was the very moment when digital photography was exploding, but her degree had been film-based and she couldn’t quite rustle up the $100,000 necessary to set herself up with the latest digital gear. Always pragmatic, she set about putting her design degree to good use, working as a graphic designer for a Wellington agency, before moving to the Bay of Plenty to take up a dual role as graphic designer-cum-photographer on the magazine Uno.

Our Stories: Vikki Coombes

Written by Emma Bell.

Vikki Coombes bwVikki Coombes is a woman of many titles and many talents. She isn’t just a kiwi, but also a self-confessed hummingbird. Having enjoyed five different careers encompassing 20 different roles, Vikki now works with other hummingbirds, coaching them to weave their multiple passions into a life that they love, alongside her management consulting contracts.

She describes hummingbirds as “people who have varied and ever-changing interests; they are frequently changing jobs, flitting from one hobby to another, starting projects and then dropping them, moving house often and always leaping into new learning opportunities. Each time they take on something new, they bring with them the wealth of experience from their previous endeavours. They’re the cross-pollinators of the world.”

As the ‘Queen of Hummingbirds’, Vikki describes herself as living a life of “constant curiosity, always on the move, growing and pushing my boundaries.” With each new role, project or challenge she takes on, she brings new ideas and challenges the status quo.

Our Stories: Mandii Pope

Written by Tracy Goodall.

Mandii Pope cropped bw gimpIf you’ve ever thought that artists are vague, creative, head-in-the-clouds types, a half hour with Mandii Pope would certainly shatter that stereotype. She may be one of New Zealand’s most prolific commercial artists but she’s also got a business nous and tech-savvy side to her that would put many MBA graduates to shame.

Today she mixes corporate consultancy with art projects and has raised over £100,000 for charities – a goal inspired by the example of philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn who sponsored a solo show in Dubai and her first UK exhibition in 2011, a break-through event in a prestigious Cork Street gallery. She reached her fundraising goal through a series of charity auctions over five years – the period she had allowed herself in which to achieve that figure.

Our Stories: Claire Kavanagh

Written by Emma Bell.

Claire Kavanaugh bw GIMP resizeMost of us will go our entire lives without ever achieving our childhood career aspirations. As a little girl, Claire Kavanagh was convinced that the role of supermarket check-out operator would be the best job in the world, because you got to push a lot of buttons! At 15, she realised this dream in the Porirua Countdown. This may have been her first foray into customer service, but thankfully her aspirations didn’t stop there.

She went on to study tourism and commerce at Victoria University, becoming particularly interested in marketing. A part-time job in Telecom’s pricing team marked the beginning of a long-term interest in telecommunications, although her favourite part of the job was moonlighting for the marketing team, which she was eventually able to move to full-time in a product management role. In 2005, the marketing team was being moved to Auckland and Claire was faced with two choices: take a voluntary redundancy, or move to Auckland. She chose the former and began a new chapter, travelling solo through South East Asia, then arriving in the UK.

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