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The very first computer Meccedes Rasmussen remembers using was a Commodore 64, with a cassette, that she spent many hours trying to programme to make bubbles. But she is quick to add that she’s not a developer, and never has been. In fact, she never even planned to go into the IT sector. After leaving school, she got a bachelor’s degree in education and psychology, realising toward the end of her studies that working as a teacher wasn’t for her.
“My heart wasn’t in it, but I finished my degree and then went to work at Westpac in the contact centre,” she says.
“It was a great way to get a broad understanding of the business while I looked for the next opportunity. At that time Westpac was just getting into internet banking and I moved into that team, then into Contact Centre Solutions as a business process analyst.”
In her work as a business analyst, Meccedes enjoyed representing the business while liaising with the technical side of big projects – she’d found her niche and her career began to take off. With a new baby in tow, she and her husband decided to move to London (for what was intended as a two-year stint but turned into more than seven years) where she worked for SYSDOC before taking on a role as a senior consultant with SERCO Consulting. At SERCO she performed various roles, including project manager on the ‘Boris Bikes’ programme leading up to the London Olympics, which launched bikes for public hire across London. Once the bikes were live, Meccedes was the Service Manager, her team managing services across IT, the contact centre and operations.
“That was awesome – it’s great to work on a project you can see, with bikes on the ground, and the IT in the background,” says Meccedes. “And every so often Boris would pop by the test kiosks and ask the team, ‘How are you tracking?’”
After a short stint working in Abu Dhabi, Meccedes and her husband were ready to return to New Zealand so their son and daughter could enjoy a classic Kiwi childhood. She was barely off the plane when she attended an interview with Datacom and was offered the job on the spot.
“Saying yes to the job at Datacom was absolutely the right choice. I’ve been here ever since because of the great people and the opportunities to grow,” Meccedes says.
“I started in a project manager role and things changed so quickly; it was a case of rolling up my sleeves and finding out what team I was going to work on next. I picked up so many skills and roles, which all led into my current role.”
Meccedes is now NZ General Manager – Dynamics 365 and is already looking at how her team can excel.
“We want to have the best people and get the best projects so everyone will want to work for and with us. Then we’ll be pushing for the next thing and what we can do better That’s what I love about Datacom. There’s always something different going on, something new.”
She’s led many projects, but a few are especially close to her heart. One was the Children’s Action Plan, which is the Oranga Tamariki case management system for vulnerable children. It was a huge project to build the system, but it has made a significant contribution to protecting children in New Zealand.
She also led the management of the Carbon Emission Register, for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Meccedes work on these two projects was a contributing factor in her nomination as a ‘Shining Star’ in the 2021 Women in ICT Awards – for women who show “excellence in spearheading company initiatives … a consistent high performer.”
Meccedes says there were times during her work in the UK when she was the only women on the whole floor of the building, “but you just shrug and get on with it”.
“I’ve never felt like my gender and being part Pasifika has put me on the back foot or hindered me in any way – I know I’ve been really lucky. I’ve always had that mentality from my dad [who’s Cook Islands/Scottish] that I should challenge myself and try to do more.”
She believes that IT is a fantastic career for anyone and admits her own non-technical background means she has a soft spot for job applicants with arts degrees.
“Particularly in business platforms, it’s about understanding processes and having conversations with people. It's great if you have, but you don’t have to do engineering at university – your strengths may lie in bringing other skills and life experiences to the table.”
“Everyone at Datacom plays their part and brings something different.”