We catch up with Geeling Ching
We caught up with Geeling Ching as part of our Women of the Waterfront series celebrating the women that work in Auckland’s waterfront.
Tell us about yourself and what you do in the waterfront.
I work at the ASB Waterfront Theatre as Business Development Manager. Besides the obvious duties that go with this title I focus on manaakitanga - aiming to make the theatre going experience as enjoyable and memorable as possible for local and overseas guests, visitors and artists. Offering true and meaningful hospitality in all senses of the word. As part of the Wynyard Quarter precinct we are focused on being leaders in sustainability, whilst also being aware of our responsibility, our tiaka, in managing an asset which celebrates creativity and culture and will continue to do so for generations to come.
The power of intention – How did you design your life and career path? Or did it evolve?
Nothing about my life has been designed - I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse! It’s been a meandering evolution starting from washing dishes in a cafe in Kings Cross, to managing one of NZ’s most successful and iconic restaurants, to being part of the startup team at Auckland’s newest theatre. Not to mention side dalliances in fashion, film and TV. It’s been an interesting journey so far.
Did your job exist when you were at school?
Yes I’m sure BDM jobs existed when I was at school although I wasn’t aware of them. As I said, this hasn’t been part of a life long plan, more a result of experience driven success, timely opportunities and good old fashioned luck.
What are some of the unique experiences/greatest successes you’ve had in this role?
Opening a theatre is a truly daunting challenge - there is so much involved in not only the bricks and mortar, but everything that goes on behind the scenes. There is so much to learn, and now that we have a couple of years under our belt we can begin to focus on fine-tuning policies and practices, in a never-ending quest to improve our customer experience.
How do you maintain balance in your life? Work, family, social?
It can be tricky when we have shows on, working at night and on weekends. I try to meet up with friends as much as I can, and I run to give myself “me time”.
Embrace the lessons – What challenges have you experienced that have shaped you as a person the most?
I’ve been pretty lucky - not really suffering any real discrimination regarding race or sex, possibly because I’ve worked with very open minded, forward thinking people. I’ve also grown up in a world where experience has been valued over insistence on a qualification, which has been very fortunate for me. The real challenges I face every day are around dealing with closed minds, wrongful assumptions, and people who don’t speak the truth, for whatever reason. I embrace Jordan Peterson’s advice - “Tell the truth - or at least don’t lie.”
Shero’s & Hero’s – Who are your role models & why?
My heroes are my contemporaries, most notably Judith Tabron, who I worked with for about 20 years. Smart, talented, honest and loyal - I learnt so much from her and we are still good friends.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Seize every opportunity, believe in yourself, never accept mediocrity and don’t be afraid of learning new things. Try and see the good in everyone. And when things go bad remember: “This too will pass.”
How do you try to encourage/empower the women in your life to achieve to their full potential?
I work with a lot of young women in our usher and front of house teams at the Theatre. I love to see their youthful enthusiasm and even though this is a time of great change, a lot of the challenges I saw growing up have remained the same. I pass on the same advice I would give my teenage self. I offer them non-judgmental support and try to have as much fun as I can with them. They are pretty special people and I love them. They’re the daughters I never had.
What’s your favourite place on the waterfront / thing to do / about the waterfront?
Running along the waterfront is one of my favourite things to do - just watching the sea change, feeling the breeze, smelling the salty tang. When I’m away from home and in a place that doesn’t have a waterfront, I am reminded how lucky I am to live in this paradise. It’s always good to come home.