A letter to my successor

by Laura-Jane Booker, Operations Support, Play Colab

My time at Play is drawing to a close, and it is with a heavy heart I write this letter. Through my experience, I have learnt much, and it is only fair that I share some tips and tricks to help you navigate your new job. But first, let me introduce you to Sandy Burgham and how I came to work at Play.


Upon finishing my Master’s degree last year, I received a call from Sandy, asking me if I would like to work for her. She didn’t have an exact job description but needed someone to help with the day-to-day running of her business. “About 10 hours a week,” she said. As I already had several other jobs, I thought, 10 hours, this I can manage. Little did I know what I had just agreed to.


After our first meeting, it was clear I was going to need some help keeping up with her so here’s tip number 1: Bring a recording device to every meeting. While I did learn to type frantically as she was listing off things that needed to be done, it always helped to have a back up in case I missed anything. This brings me to tip number 2: Learn to type frantically.


As Play is a small business, there is no such thing as tech support, an accounts team, or website and social media expert. You yourself will need to become these things. Other duties and job titles include transcriber, repairs and maintenance, driver, cleaner, bookkeeper, idea generator, system implementor, personal shopper, problem solver, advisor, designer, caterer, squash coach, and dog sitter. With that knowledge comes tip number 3: Be versatile, learn quickly, and know that Google and Youtube are your friends.


As my list of job titles grew, so did my hours of work. 10 hours grew to 30 and sometimes hit 40. There was never enough time in the day to do what needed to be done and I found myself making comparisons to Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada. After revealing this to Sandy she told me one of her assistants once quit on her after 3 hours of work. What followed were fits of laughter (from both of us I might add) and a new-found appreciation for my resilience.  Tip number 4: Resilience, efficiency, and adaptability are key.


To compensate for the lack of hours in the day, I would try and do things beyond my capabilities. Exhibit A: Rather than taking two trips to pick up a couple of 12L water bottles, I carried both in one go and to this day, have lost feeling down the side of my ring finger. So tip number 5: Don’t be a hero, it may cause nerve damage.


Despite the pace and demands of the work, I have loved every minute of working at Play and this all boils down to the woman, the myth, the legend that is Sandy Burgham. Without a doubt, Sandy is the most generous person I know, and this generosity extends to her support, knowledge, encouragement, praise, time, trust, appreciation, inclusion, shared experience, mentoring, connections, and development opportunities. Working for Sandy I know that I am valued, I know that I am respected, and I know my worth.


As you begin your journey at Play you may feel a little overwhelmed, but this will pass, and you will gain a sense of empowerment like no other. You will learn something new every day, meet and work with some incredible people, and pick up skills you never knew you needed.


So, to my successor, I wish you luck and I wish you longevity, which is more than we can say for some…


Laura-Jane Booker, Operations Support, Play Colab

Since writing this piece we have found a brilliant replacement, Maddy Morton, to whom I wish the best. I myself am currently looking for a new job. While I have a particular interest in using data to improve employee outcomes in the workplace, I am increasingly interested in data analytics for general business impact. Having worked for various organisations with roles ranging from research to Operations Support, I am now looking for a position that can leverage my interest, experience and expertise in contemporary workplaces and utilise the skills and knowledge I have acquired through work and study. Any opportunities for work are most welcome and I am happy to provide a cv. Please email me at lj.booker@hotmail.co.nz


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