Following the collapse of Datasouth, former employee Kylie Richardson decided it was time to make it into the big world of IT on her own. She has since become a freelance Sharepoint consultant, assisting businesses with Sharepoint adoption and integration.
Together with John Gibson, another ex-Datasouth employee, Richardson is setting up a new company, focused on cloud solutions and online marketing. The new company is called MOO which, as Richardson explains, stands for My Online Office.
Her entrepreneurial spirit has always been a part of her she says, but working with successful business people has definitely helped her grow. She singles out Hayley Bryan, her former boss at Datasouth, as one of the people who inspire her in business. “I really look up to my old boss Hayley Bryan. Not only is she a very successful businesswoman, but she's also down to earth, and approachable. Her actions around the whole Datasouth affair were courageous and admirable,” she says.
Moving from having a stable monthly pay cheque to the uncertainty of freelance living can be scary for anyone but Richardson says that there is no shortage of work in the industry. “When you're freelance, you're always worrying about the pipeline of work. You never know what's around the corner, but I've always found that no matter what, work always pops up even if you start on the first of the month with a completely empty calendar.”
Her IT career started back in 2007 as a service desk analyst for Datasouth, before she grew into other roles within the company. Prior to that, Richardson was putting her First Class Honours degree in Biochemistry gained at Massey University into use by working as a research assistant for Otago University. “I then made the big change to IT and started working as a service desk analyst for Datasouth, I was promoted to service desk team leader after 9 months, then after doing that for a year or so they offered me a position as a SharePoint consultant in training,” she recalls.
“I learned everything on the job, and now I'm working as a freelance SharePoint consultant, as well as contracting to Canterbury Business Solutions [started by another former Datasouth employee, Steve Knutson].”
In the past few years, Richardson grew as a Sharepoint consultant and knows the ins and outs of the IT industry. “I like how quickly it changes - it means that I'm never without a new challenge,” she says. She does not contemplate the idea of changing careers again but thinks that, if it all fell apart, she could go back to working as a research assistant. Alternatively, she says she would make a “great party planner”.
These days, Richardson makes the most out of the privilege of working from her home office. Her life is far from quiet and she is often out and about meeting with clients at their own sites, “configuring new intranets, extending existing ones or fixing up rogue SharePoint installations”. “Then the book work and emails get done whenever I have time - at the moment it’s usually in my evenings,” she adds. She would not exchange the busy hours of freelance work for anything now. “I love the flexibility of working for myself. I like being able to set my own hours, and take holidays when I want to. I also love being able to work with a wide range of clients and get exposed to all sorts of different businesses and systems.”
Her routine is not about to slow down anytime soon. “If Christchurch is anything to go by there is an insatiable appetite for technology. I'm extremely busy because so many businesses are interested in SharePoint, and there are more and more businesses adopting cloud solutions and software as a service models as well,” she says.
Where do you live now and where did you grow up and have lived before?
I was born in Dunedin but have spent most of my life in Christchurch. I moved to Palmerston North to go to Massey University and was there for 4 years, then moved back to Christchurch in 2006 with my [then] future husband.
Are you married? Kids?
Married almost four years, just one fur kid. (Pedro the Chihuahua/papillon cross).
What are you currently reading?
Nothing right now but have recently finished Steig Larsson's The Girl who played with Fire. Now I need to get onto the third book in the series.
When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher or a pharmacist.
Do you have any favourite sports?
I have a sports mad husband so I don't have much of a choice, but I do enjoy watching rugby, league, cricket and basketball. We do a bit of tramping and cycling too.
What's your favourite gadget?
Definitely my iPhone.
And your favourite website?
TripIt is one of my favourite websites/apps. I wouldn't be without it when organising travel. You can send your travel plans directly from your email to TripIt and it will pick them up (PDFs included) and import them into your planner. I then sync it all with my iPhone and then all my travel info is at my fingertips - no need for paper!
What's your drink of choice?
Coffee in the morning, wine in the evening, or a beer on a hot summer's day.
What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology?
Google. If you're popular enough to become a verb then that definitely warrants some respect.
How do you keep the work/leisure balance?
I try not to work Fridays but that doesn't always happen!