The Job Hunt…Start with Why

I’m not talking about Simon Sinek’s legendary TED Talk (though I admit it’s totally over-cited but still a personal favourite).

For anyone who identifies with the work they do, and has also gone through the process of searching for a new job, you know that it can be exciting but also hugely challenging and even a bit deflating.


I moved to New Zealand a year and a half ago with my husband who is from Wellington. We had been living in Canada where I had a career that I absolutely lived for; a Director with Canada’s leading fashion retailer. If you’ve met me, you’ll know that it’s not fashion that gets me up in the morning. I worked with Aritzia for 10 years in a People Leadership position and though it challenged me in every single sense that I knew, I loved every second of it.

Between Canada and New Zealand, we took a year off to travel and experience some major bucket-list items. That was fulfilling in more ways than I could ever articulate but you can imagine how ready I was to begin working when I touched down in this incredible country.

I placed so much emphasis on my new career in Wellington and I figured that I had totally nailed it. I ended up doing a similar role with a project that was probably considered high-profile in NZ at the time. My in-laws were all extremely excited and proud that I had landed this role and I was pretty excited too.

I knew the company wasn’t 100% aligned to me in terms of values and leadership, but the role was right up my alley and it was a great opportunity. It ended up being a disaster.


Not the project…we pulled that off well but the work I was doing wasn’t aligned to where I add the most value and the values of the company were quite far off from my own. I knew I had to realign with a team whose values reflected mine so I began the search. I wasn’t searching based on what a company did, more how they did it. It’s never been fashion that got me up every morning. In Canada, it was the fiercely dynamic culture and the opportunity to develop my team. I really valued the skillset I developed in people development and cultural development and what I loved most was being able to develop that same skillset in others.

I was on a mission to find a values-based organisation that I truly aligned with. I spoke with loads of great companies and was fortunate enough to receive a couple of job offers from some incredible brands whose values completely mirrored my own. There was something missing though and I knew that this time that I couldn’t jump in to something unless the fit was spot on. It was when I spoke with Humankind, where I now work (and love), that I realised that my search was all wrong.

I thought I had been looking for values: how a company does things versus just what they do. What I had actually been looking for the entire time was the why--a purpose that I believe in and aligns with my own.


Humankind’s vision is to help New Zealand build the best workplaces in the world. The purpose is to help people love what they do and do what they love. We provide innovative HR consulting advice to businesses and agencies all over NZ. The purpose is something that resonates with me personally and has always been a personal-driver for me.

I’m a millennial and as a millennial, it’s true; I want more than a paycheque and a ping pong table. I want to work with a company that will make a difference in the world in a way that is meaningful to me (no matter how big or small). With the rise of Millenials and iGen, this is one of the key ways that work is changing but we’ll save that for another day.

The job search is something that almost all of us go through at one point another. It is totally painful at moments but I took away a lot of learnings from my recent search. It was not a long-term strategy that drove me. My core purpose drove me to where I needed to go. Don’t start with what, don’t start with how…start with why.


Kayln Ponti is a member of Leading Ladies and now works with HumanKind in Wellington.