Love what you do and success will follow: 2020 Scholars’ Assembly

Published July 6, 2021

From left to right: St Cuthbert’s Principal Justine Mahon, Old Girl Caroline Rainsford
and Acting Head of Senior School/ Deputy Principal Suzanne Winthrop.

We were delighted to have Old Girl and current St Cuthbert’s parent, Caroline Rainsford, as Guest of Honour at our Scholars’ Assembly. Caroline is the Country Director for Google New Zealand and Australia. She spoke to the girls about her interesting and varied career path, and her current focus on helping Australian and New Zealand businesses grow and transform in the digital age. Caroline shared with the girls that it didn’t matter if they didn’t already know what career path they’d take, as if they “love what they do, success will follow”. Please enjoy Caroline’s amazing speech below.

Imagine by Caroline Rainsford.

Imagine driving to school tomorrow morning in an autonomous car with no one driving being able to read your favourite book or even have a nap. Or Imagine placing a pizza order tonight for dinner and it turns up to your house in a drone.

Imagine having an assistant robot that can make your next appointment for you or call your parents for you to let them know you are going to be late home.

Imagine looking through a sort of magic window and seeing your good friend on the other side of the world in real time, life size, extremely detailed and in three dimensions.

Imagine arriving at work in the morning and seeing what New Zealanders are searching for everyday online and knowing that you are helping people search everything from the very practical, such as how to get your driver’s license to life’s most important mysteries like “what is really going on with Lorde’s latest album release cover?”.

Imagine working with some of the most creative New Zealanders helping them grow their YouTube channels both here in New Zealand and overseas to millions of viewers.

Imagine helping small New Zealand businesses transform their businesses online when they were weeks away from shutting down during the early stages of COVID.

Imagine walking into work and finding draws of chocolate and snacks and all the food you can eat is free for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I don’t have to imagine because this is the world I get to see, eat and experience everyday at Google.

And whilst some of this may seem far away, it isn’t. Every day I am more excited by what is possible in the future.

So coming back to St Cuthbert’s, celebrating the amazing achievements of our scholars today and seeing you all today fills me with hope and optimism for the future that you will all have.

But I want you to know that when I sat in your seat 20 years ago, I didn’t have all the answers, I had no idea what I wanted to do after I finished school. I certainly didn’t know that I would work at Google. I was very shy at school, my long giraffe-like limbs meant I was uncoordinated and as my report cards told me I was “perfectly average”. I think I only excelled at Latin and running the school tuck shop. So if you are sitting next to the girl that has already decided she wants to be a surgeon or a chemical engineer and you have no idea what you want to do, do not worry at all – you are already on the right track, more than you will ever know. And here is why;

St Cuthbert’s teaches you some important things that you only come to appreciate after you reflect back on where you came from and what shaped you.

St Cuthbert’s gives you the opportunity to explore your passions and teaches you to follow them. I’ve always used passion as my barometer for making decisions in my life and as a result I feel like I have never really worked a day in my life. I am so passionate about the role that technology and digital can play in the future of New Zealanders and transforming New Zealand businesses and I feel a responsibility to make sure both companies like Google and the government invest in the skills and capabilities we need to have a world class digital economy.

I have made bold decisions in my career and I have had incredible fun celebrating success, making some huge mistakes and learning more about myself every time. Love what you do and success will follow.

You all know the value of hard work and achievement. I never sugar coat how hard I have worked to achieve the things I am most proud of. I got an opportunity to have a part time retail job after school and on the weekends when I was 15. I learnt the importance of understanding the customer, I learnt the politics of a workplace and how the team is more important than anything. And in the earlier years in my career I worked hard to add value whenever I could and I made sure I never stopped learning. So I encourage you all to be constantly curious.

You will hopefully leave this school with the confidence to be courageous and embrace those moments in life when you feel scared or like you aren’t quite good enough. Be courageous and say yes to every opportunity that scares you. I have also had self doubt over the years in my career, fear of failure and the seemingly always there “imposter syndrome”.

But in more recent years I was lucky to realise that it’s in those moments when you get out of your comfort zone that “Magic Happens” so now I embrace feeling like that. You learn, you grow exponentially as an individual but most importantly as a leader.

In my late 20s I got the opportunity to take up a role as regional marketing director in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. I worked across 35 countries and was traveling every week to places I had never heard off, presenting in front of customers in markets like Iran and Saudi where they didn’t speak English and 9/10 times I was the only female in the room! It was one of the most daunting yet rewarding periods in my career.

And lastly St Cuthbert’s teaches you how to be an incredible friend. You are making lasting friendships with the girls around you and I promise you that when you have tough times in your life it will be the St Cuthbert’s girls that are there to hold your hand through it. And it will be the St Cuthbert’s girls that are there to celebrate with you when you make magic. An unbelievable network of fellow students, teachers and old girls. 

Finally I want to congratulate all those receiving a St Cuthbert’s College scholar badge today and wish you every success in your chosen future pathways. You are an inspiration for everyone in this room and I have no doubt you will all go on to inspire many more in your future.

You can read more about the academic successes of our top scholars from 2020 in our latest edition of Evergreen Ties, by clicking here.