Returning home - a leadership network member's journey


We chat with Leadership Network member Alice Wang about just beating lockdown to return to New Zealand from Melbourne where she was working as a management consultant. Alice says this year has provided her with an opportunity to reflect on what she values in life and where she wants to be.

Alice standing next to a snowman in a mountainous area

Alice Wang "...Covid has helped me reflect on the things that are most important to me, and family is definitely at the top of that list."

What were you doing in ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Melbourne?

I've spent the past four years working as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, leading teams to provide strategic advice to government departments, large private sector companies, as well as international charities and NGOs.

I was primarily based in Melbourne, but also spent most of 2018 and 2019 working in London and Rome on social impact work. 

What was life like in Melbourne when you left?

I relocated in mid March and so life wasn't too different in Melbourne at that stage, with the exception of the crazy shortage of toilet paper in the supermarkets! We had just transitioned to working from home and the lockdown was less stringent than New Zealand's rules at the time (some shops were still open and restaurants were doing takeaway). I had gone to a wedding earlier that month, and so it all felt very surreal how quickly things were changing. 

I managed to get into Wellington the afternoon before Level 4 lock down started, and was really fortunate to be able to complete my 14 day quarantine at home. It all happened very quickly - I think I bought my ticket two hours before the flight departed!

Are you glad you made the move when you did?

Yes, definitely - Covid has helped me reflect on the things that are most important to me, and family is definitely at the top of that list.

I've had some wonderful professional opportunities overseas, which I'm incredibly grateful for, but ultimately it was important to be back home when there was so much disruption and uncertainty in the world.

I had been thinking about moving back to New Zealand soon anyway, and so Covid simply sped up the inevitable! I think New Zealand was also really lucky to be able to open up domestically in such a stable and continuous way when compared to other countries - I was very glad to have avoided Melbourne's prolonged lockdown, which was incredibly tough for my colleagues. 

What are you doing in New Zealand?

This year, I've continued to work for BCG Melbourne as a Project Leader and have been on secondment to the Victorian Government since May, working remotely from Wellington.

It's been a really interesting time to work in the public sector, dealing with both the crisis response and economic recovery side of the situation. 

Alice Wang Huangshan 002 v2

What are your plans for next year?

I'll be starting a new role as Programme Director Complex Workstreams at Universities NZ, which is the peak body for New Zealand's eight universities. The role will support the Vice Chancellors and their sub-committees to drive a range of strategic or cross-cutting workstreams, on issues such as equity and resourcing. 

Have you reconnected with the Leadership Network or network members since you’ve been back?

Yes, it's been really fantastic reconnecting with old friends and new members in Wellington. The last time I lived in Wellington was back in 2014, so it's been great meeting all the new members of the network that have joined over the past six years. I love how active the Wellington group is - it's been a wonderful community to plug back into.