20 questions with Vanessa Brennan - Chief Brand and Customer Officer Michael Hill

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We caught up with Vanessa Brennan, Chief Brand and Customer Officer at Michael Hill to find out why she loves working in Newmarket, her motivations, and where her first job was…

N. Why do you love working in Newmarket?

I love that Newmarket is home to a whole new retail concept for Auckland. It’s a truly exciting shopping experience for customers with amazing brands all under the one roof.

N.What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who was looking at starting out in your industry?

In the retail industry it’s essential to understand your customer, that means understanding who they are and focusing on the product you develop and the experience you will give them. You need to understand your point of difference.

N. What would you do if you weren’t in your current role?

I would spend more time in my garden.

N. Name your top three favourite songs.

Thelma Plum: Homecoming Queen

Amy Winehouse: Valerie

Tash Sultana: Jungle

N. What was your first job?

I worked at McDonald’s – and it was the best training I ever had. You were taught to leave your personal stuff at the door.

N. What motivates you?

Solving customer problems, mentoring young team members, seeing them succeed and grow.

N. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

San Francisco – the vibe of ‘we can solve everything with design thinking’ is infectious.

N. Where is your favourite place to get coffee or a drink in Newmarket?

L’affare Newmarket.

N. Describe Newmarket in 3 words:

Innovative, beautifully designed.

N. What do you wish you’d known before you started your career?

It’s okay not to have a final destination in mind. Change is good.

N. How do you start each morning?


N. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received?

You are judged more by the way you exit an organisation than by the way you enter it.

N. What is your favourite holiday destination?

Cabarita Beach, New South Wales.

N. What is Newmarket’s best kept secret?

Sip Kitchen’s cabinet of healthy treats.

N. What would you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Watching my young talented team members grow and succeed in their career.

N. Name one item that you can’t live without.

My GHD hair straightener – it goes everywhere I do.

N. It’s 10am on a Sunday morning. Where would we find you and what are you doing?

I would be having brunch with my husband.

N. Who has had the greatest influence on your life and why?

My Mum. She has always been a bastion of strength but has the softness to show that expressing your emotions isn’t a sign of inferiority. She balances strength with care.

N. What is your greatest fear?

Not having a healthy brain.

N. What do you love most about your job?

That every day brings fresh challenges.