Not every cool member of the tech sector is in the private sector. Government can be cool too. And we met one of the coolest. Kim Connolly-Stone works at MBIE and is legit trying to help New Zealand’s thriving tech sector.

Who is IT NZ is a feature of What is IT NZ that we talked about in an earlier post. We’ll meet you for coffee, ask you a version of the Proust Questionnaire and just hang out and have a nice time. Afterwards you introduce us to someone else so the chain keeps going.

What’s your business?

I’m not in IT. But I’m for IT.  I work with a group of people who are passionate about growing New Zealand’s digital economy. We want NZ’s IT sector to be even more awesome than it currently is and we want other New Zealand businesses to realise the wonderful benefits of digital tech.

I work for the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment.

What’s your role?

I am the policy director of the digital economy programme.

What’s your two sentence elevator pitch for your business?

(We didn’t think anything could top “I’m not in IT, but I’m for IT”)

What’s your favourite virtue?

Being on time. Is that a virtue? Punctuality. I really like it when people are on time

(we weren’t on time)(that was my fault).

I really appreciate people being punctual. But actually if I could only pick one, if people could only have one virtue, then kindness. Because life would be awful if people weren’t kind to each other.

What do you look for in a friend?

Wine.

I like friends I can socialise with, relax with, good times and the woes; and have a glass of wine. White wine. I’m rather partial to a Gewürztraminer.

What’s your dominant characteristic?

Empathy. I’m an empathetic person. I feel other people’s pain. I used to negotiate Treaty of Waitangi settlements and I found that a really hard job.

What’s your biggest flaw?

I can be quick to find the funny side in things, which is not always appreciated by other people.

(I pointed out that this is not a flaw. This is a positive attribute dressed up as a flaw. So we pushed harder).

How about, I spend too much time watching cat videos? Which is a flaw if you think that watching cat videos is a flaw. I’d like to clarify that watching the cat videos is something I do on my own time.

(Things that make a good cat video according to Kim:

  • A really cute cat
  • A fluffy cat
  • And a cat doing something unexpected)

What’s your favourite occupation?

I would be one of those people that travels the world sourcing the luxury goods that feature in the duty free catalogues in the seat pockets of airlines. So they’d pay you to travel, you’d go to interesting places and you’d be surrounding yourself with luxury items.

What’s your idea of happiness?

A sunny day when nothing awful has happened. That would make me happy.

(I said this was bleak and an awfully low bar)

And when there’s not too many emails.

(We explained that happiness was usually the presence of something positive, not the absence of something negative)

A really good laugh. A real belly laugh. When people are almost crying. I can be the laugher or the laughee.

What’s your idea of misery?

More emails than I can get to in a day. That makes me so miserable in a day. I would love a world where there was less email. I’ve been watching these 1950s spy films lately and you see them getting about their spy day and you think “why do they have so much time for getting out and about? And it’s probably because they don’t have to read emails.

If you weren’t you, who would you like to be?

Peta Matthias. She’s fabulous. She’s a chef by background. And does cooking and travel programmes and is just so flamboyant. I remember reading an article about her, it was an interview and they asked her what she did for exercise, and she said “walking to and from the wine shop”.

Where do you wish you could live?

Well, I live in the Hutt now. What could be better than that? Lower Hutt. I’m in Woburn. I used to live in Petone. There were a few concerns about coastal erosion and tsunamis that made us think that living right on Petone beach wasn’t the best spot. So we moved a little further inland.

(I clarified, that given the entire world to choose from, Kim would choose Lower Hutt. It turned out she wouldn’t)

Paris would be great. If you could afford to live in the very nice parts, in the inner city and if I could speak French. That would be great. It’s one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been. I once sat in a restaurant in Paris and there was a small dog sitting at the table next to me, up on the chair having a little something to eat.

All across Europe, dogs are very welcome. I’d like to see a more dog friendly New Zealand.

What’s your favourite colour and your favourite flower?

I love the colour green. And flower-wise, I really love Fresias and Daphne because they smell amazing.

(I thought Fresia was a kind of cow, but that’s Fresian which then launched us into a conversation about the differences between Fresian and Holstein cows. If you’re interested, Holstein are slightly bigger.)(Kim has a cow respite centre)(cows love citrus fruits).

Who is your favourite character in fiction?

I am rather partial to Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. She’s got some great lines which you can use in everyday life. One of my favourites is “I thank you for my share of the favour” but I’m not going to take you up on that. I bust that out occasionally. And she got to wear some amazing smocks.

You have to have a certain amount of patience for reading Jane Austen I think. It’s very descriptive. It’s not just about what’s happening on the day, it’s saying something about what’s happening at the time.

What is your favourite swear word?

I’m a great fan for swearing for emphasis. There’s a fine line between that and potty mouth. My favourite swear word sounds like a cereal called cluster puff.

(I asked what the actual swear word was)

Cluster…something that sounds like puff. Sounds like clusterpuff. Or you can say Charlie Foxtrot.

(we sought clarification)

Cluster puff.

(We told her that everyone else had said an actual swear word and she didn’t need to self-censor)

Cluster fuck. It’s great because you can add a number to the end depending on how big it is. So it could be X10. So Cluster Fuck X10 which means it’s a really big cluster fuck.
If you’d like to take part in Who is IT NZ, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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