We catch up with Alana Mitchell
Alana Mitchell is the Startup Hub Manager of Grid AKL at the Lysaght building in Wynyard Quarter. She looks after all the wonderful humans of the coworking community there.
Tell us about yourself and what you do in the waterfront.
I am the Startup Hub Manager of GridAKL / John Lysaght Building down in the Wynyard Quarter. Our coworking community is home to over 180pax from 65 different startups and businesses and give or take 5 dogs, on a good day. Our space is pretty unique with a free cafe for anyone to work from without the pressure of buying a coffee, getting to tap into the community, advisors and all the events we have access to. No two days are ever the same for the team but that is exactly why we love it.
The power of intention – How did you design your life and career path? Or did it evolve?
I’ve always loved helping and supporting awesome people but I wasn’t too sure what that would look like as a career for me. After managing restaurants and cafes for a while I had had enough. I applied for a role working on the GridAKL Programme and moved to Auckland in the hope I would get the role. The risk paid off, nearly two and half years later I’m still here! I love the flexibility the team and myself have in our roles and being surrounded by such inspiring people.
Did your job exist when you were at school?
Ha no way.. Well nothing like we know it today anyway. The first coworking office was set up around 2005 (I was almost 15) but you’re talking much more shared office space rather than curating a community of awesome people and on the scale that it is now. In school I remember guest speakers talking about this and it was quite hard for me to get my head around..
What are some of the unique experiences/greatest successes you’ve had in this role?
I get to hear so many awesome success stories from our community here and what they achieve – it's such an exciting space. Out of nowhere you’ll randomly hear cheering and whistleblowing celebrating a massive milestone (mainly from the Weirdly Team), lunchtime sharing knowledge sessions or the whole community singing someone happy birthday randomly like you're at a rowdy BYO restaurant. I feel super grateful to be a part of all the wins and learnings.
How do you maintain balance in your life? Work, family, social?
Ha I’m still learning.. but trying to incorporate some of my life into my work day, so going for a run at lunch with friends has been super helpful. Planning a midweek after work activity each week helps me feel more balanced and while I don’t have any kids or family in Auckland, my friends are my priority and flatting with them makes this easy! Doing more of the things I love and being more present while doing those. I feel like it’s a work in progress.
Embrace the lessons – What challenges have you experienced that have shaped you as a person the most?
It has been a bit of a roller-coaster here at GridAKL, transitioning to a new management model, creating a new team and dealing with a fair amount of conflict last year was really challenging and I took it pretty personally. Forcing myself to accept the support that was on offer from those around was hard but so needed.
Shero’s & Hero’s – Who are your role models & why?
No real individual person that I look up to, I more try to focus on different traits or attributes of people that I admire. The Squawk Squad / Choice team Alex and Fraser bring such energy to the space that it’s infectious to everyone around them. Working alongside such hard-working entrepreneurs who show such resilience is pretty impressive. I’m surrounded by awesome people so it’s like a deluxe pick and mix of what I admire.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Ahhh probably still some of things I am still telling myself – let it go, don’t take it too seriously, have more fun, pretty cheesy.
How do you try to encourage/empower the women in your life to achieve to their full potential?
Our team actively all work together to create this and always improve on this. We have started making time each week to discuss, something we've learnt, what we would like to be recognised for, and a learning we can share etc. It’s creating an environment for us to share something we are proud of, which is empowering. The team are super supportive towards each other and I am always learning from them too!
What’s your favourite place on the waterfront / thing to do / about the waterfront?
I absolutely love that we have the ocean so close! Sitting in front of the harbour sharing ice cream with 20 odd other residents on a Friday afternoon is pretty hard to beat. Watching the stingrays in the wharf, running along the waterfront feeling so far from the city and then to sharing a beer in the Viaduct – maybe that beats the ice cream..