In our regular #MyFirstMcJob series, those at the top remember when they were still at the bottom
Hi Jo! Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Jo and I’m Managing Director of a number of companies, including Pointer Remote, a job-matching platform based in Australia for remote jobs where it doesn’t matter if the person physically lives in Australia.
What was your #MyFirstMcJob?
Working at a bakery in a little country town called Jindabyne with 2,000 people in the Snowy Mountains in rural Australia. It was called Sundance Bakery and they used to have the best meat pies in the world.
How did you get the job?
My best friend's family owned the local bakery and I used to work in there in my school holidays. We’d ski every Saturday morning then come in at lunchtime. I started coming in to feed myself then ended up to getting paid to work there when I was older.
What did you have to do?
If you were opening, you’d have to be there from 6am to load the pies into the ovens. A cook would come in and make fresh salad rolls. I remember wrapping up salad rolls and peeling oranges for the fresh orange juice.
How long did you work there?
It was pretty sporadic, but they were very busy and always happy to have extra hands on deck. It might have been a little bakery, but it was a big business. For four months of the year over winter, when everyone was skiing, it would be crazy. The rest of the year was mainly locals.
What were the perks of the job?
Being able to eat whatever I wanted. I probably took the mickey out of that. I reckon I've sampled every sweet treat in that place multiple times!
Did anything particularly funny happen or go wrong?
I was serving this family who happened to have a rather attractive son about my age. He was wearing a rugby jersey from the high school I went to but he wasn’t at my school – he’d swapped jerseys when his school played against my school. I said: “I go to that school,” and my friend’s father, who owned the bakery, popped up and went: “Look how well she's done for herself.” I was mortified in front of this very attractive boy.
What skills did you learn in the bakery that you still use today?
During the busy winter months, we’d attract the affluent skiing crowd from Sydney. It was the first time I became aware of how poorly some people treat service staff. They were very much: “Oh, you just work here on your 15 bucks an hour or whatever.” It taught me to have respect for the people who are serving food or drinks anywhere in the world. If I sit at a table with people who are being rude to the waiting staff, I’ll say something. Also I can't eat in a restaurant or café without stacking my plates up and making it easier for the staff. Are you still in contact with anyone you worked with? Very much so. My best friend's family sold the business to another friend’s family. That bakery then made my wedding cake. We didn't have a McDonald's, so everyone did their rite of passage working at the bakery, learning money handling skills and customer service.
Why is alumni important to you?
I originally trained and worked as a teacher. Starting a tech company in recruitment was quite rogue, but I had all these very clever girlfriends who left corporate careers and married farmers. I thought: “You guys need to be working.” It can be frustrating when you've got skills and experience and you can't actually use them. I’m used to living in place with small populations, so it’s helpful being able to tap into alumni groups from school, university or training. Without well-managed alumni structures, those connections can become less impactful. Networking is a superpower of mine because I've always been so geographically isolated.
What would happen if you went back and did a day's work at the bakery?
I would love that. I would slot straight into it. I spent a lot of time working in pubs through uni, where the power is completely flipped from a more submissive hospitality role because if you think someone's had too much to drink, you can have them kicked of the pub. As 18-year-old female, telling off a 50-year-old drunk man was quite empowering. I'm a real extrovert. I love talking with people and have often romanticised about opening a little cafe somewhere.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When a baker tells you that that pie has literally just come out of the oven, do not continue to shove it into your face, else it will leave blisters on your chin for three weeks!