insights from Monique Surges, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
Sit down and grab a cup of tea ladies, because this interview is one you don't want to miss! Today we are introducing you to the amazing Monique Surges. Monique is a devoted mother and CEO of the German-New Zealand Business Association.
Kat led the way with this interview and being from Germany herself, she very much enjoyed talking to her, and they ended up going off task many times when they spoke about the different cultural influences and things like school systems in New Zealand and Germany. Surprisingly, the interview was conducted in English. BUT we got the juice for you and cannot wait to share some fantastic advice and Monique's awesome story with you!
Having grown up in New Zealand and Germany, Monique had the advantage of being fluent in two languages and learning about two economic and law systems in much detail, which allows her to work at the head of the German-New Zealand Business Association. But this wasn’t the plan during her teenage years. Monique dreamed of being a flight attendant, then a fashion designer – just like Karl Lagerfeld, and envisioning her fashion being photographed and displayed in Vogue. Even if there was “no certainty whatsoever – Monique knew she needed an ‘all-rounder’ qualification.”
We say damn right to her definition of success: "In my case, it certainly has nothing to do with earning lots of money anymore! It's more about being respected for your knowledge and abilities." And she keeps on going speaking her mind with the three things she recommends all women out there:
Personal Development is a huge topic these days, and Monique gets behind it as well. She makes "a point of picking one or two short courses to get up to speed or understand something a little bit more in depth." There are so many options out there to take FREE courses that are not for your CV, but for yourself – whether you want to gain more in-depth knowledge about a certain topic or want to refine a skill that might give you that little push for the promotion you have been working so hard for. Because "it is not about having a piece of paper, it’s about doing the work at the end of the day.”
Sacrifices along the way is always a big topic in our interviews, and the reason for this is simply that you cannot have everything. If you want to be successful in your own way in the areas that are important to you, let us be real with you: you will have to sacrifice certain things. Not for the rest of your life, but for certain periods of your life. In the end, you will be thankful that you put in the hard work, even if it seems unfair at times. Monique experienced this as well. Her job includes a lot of travelling, especially to Germany, which is a good 30 hours of flying away and she had to leave her son behind. Luckily, she has a very supportive partner and gets to attach some personal holidays to her trips . Although, it does mean that Monique is out of the country for up to 6 months all up in a year. To manage these stress factors, Monique does a lot of exercise. It actually came about when she quit smoking from one day to another 10 years ago. At the same time, she went to a gym and got a program set up to get her into it, resulting in daily exercise to this day! Go, Monique! Physical health and stimulation are proven to enhance mental health and productivity, so definitely worth doing (although we don't want you to feel obligated to do it every day, a few times a week is definitely sufficient!).
When we asked Monique about her thoughts on the future, she said that she thinks we are moving towards a working environment with shorter hours and with that comes the time to be able to do sport or hobbies. This will further result in a healthier society, being able to balance work and life much better than it is currently done. Additionally, we should all have lots of techniques in our armour that will allow us to meditate. Why might you ask? Well...
Now we would like to add that this does not have to be the kind of meditation where you sit down and do breathing exercises, just something that slows you down, ideally stops you, for a while. It could be a bubble bath with quiet music (no screens!), reading a book, the old fashion way, or going for a walk.
But that is not all, schools have to revise their curricula a lot more to have a better understanding of computer language AND accounting should really be compulsory in high school. Many young people are struggling with finances, financial-lingo and doing a simple budget. This can easily be solved if they would have to complete an accounting course in school and are aware of the benefits in the long run of things such as putting $10 per week away for the future. - That sounds achievable right?
If we have some environmental enthusiasts reading this, you will love this (just as much as we did) and wish New Zealand would implement something similar very soon: “Companies in Germany are being forced not only to report their financial position but also report their sustainability . Including their climate change target and emission reduction targets, they have to document against it, why they haven’t achieved targets and how they are going to change it.” How great is that?
Finally, here is Monique's last words of wisdom for all of you: "There are always two choices and choosing one doesn't mean you are stuck. There will always be two choices so don't be afraid to take the harder one if thats the right one"
Interviewee: Monique Surges Role: CEO of the German-New Zealand Chamber