Q&A with Anastasia Pokoati, Service Manager

Anastasia has been with Fronde for over 12 months as a Service Manager within the Service Management and Operations team, which is part of Fronde’s Delivery department. “The primary focus of my role is to manage service delivery for our customers, which covers a wide range of areas from stakeholder engagement to contracts and financials as well as continuous service improvement across people, process and tools.”

How long have you worked in the IT industry?  

I’ve worked in the IT industry for a little over 21 years, in various roles within the private and government sectors across operations and delivery as well as service design and architecture.  

Over the last decade or so my primary focus has been on people management across operational teams with a focus on service management service design.  

Over the last 12 months at Fronde I have had the opportunity to utilise these skills in new ways. I enjoy the scope and breadth of my role and working with my colleagues and peers to deliver exceptional service to our customers. Not one day across operations is the same - working in the IT industry is challenging and can be fast-paced and stressful at times but I wouldn’t have it any other way as the highs and successes make it a very rewarding job.

How did you get started in IT?

I started in IT quite young, in fact before I was in my 20s. While I was studying graphic design, I took a summer job that led into a career in IT.  

Working to help and support people resolve their issues or deliver strategic outcomes has been a big drawcard for me. I have always had both a creative and analytical solutions-focused curiosity and am lucky enough to have a career that fulfils this.  

Apart from some brief corporate finance work, I have always worked in the IT industry. However, the beauty of our industry is that we get to work in or alongside many others - over the years I’ve gained many insights from working with Wellington City Council, NZ Police and Parliament to name a few. 

What do you remember from your first few days at Fronde?

I joined Fronde on the tail end of our last lockdown in 2021. We were in Level 2 and had to roster in when we were coming into the office. My first few days in the office were warm and welcoming and the office was very quiet with most staff working remotely.  

What do you enjoy about working at Fronde and what makes you stay? 

I really enjoy the flexible working that Fronde provides as well as the ability to collaborate in a positive environment where there is constant support from management and peers. This role has by far been my most flexible with allowing me to work from home a lot which is a bonus as a mum of four boys.

Fronde has a real family vibe and everyone is approachable and willing to help. On top of this, Fronde as an organisation allows its staff the opportunity to take full ownership without the unnecessary red tape that can be commonplace in our industry. Our customers are aware of this as well which is a drawcard as we can make things happen quickly moving in a fluid and agile manner!

What challenges have you had to overcome during your IT career? 

Having started in IT very young, something I struggled with early in my career was how to constructively challenge others if I had a difference of opinion. It also took me a while to become confident in my skills and ability.

Being of Pacific Island heritage, our culture has a big focus on being humble and having respect for elders and authority which meant as a young woman in a male-dominated industry I would sometimes avoid constructively challenging others as I didn't want to be disrespectful or come across as arrogant.  

Over the years I have overcome this with maturity and if there's one thing I could tell myself back then it would be to never be afraid to challenge the status quo and to have confidence in yourself as you are more than capable!  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given over your career?

Best piece of advice I have been given in my career from one of my mentors was to, “always set clear expectations and meet them, or have a valid reason why you can't”, and “don’t be afraid to not have all the answers, you don’t have to know everything and it is ok to ask for help”.

What technologies have had the greatest impact on your life, both personally and professionally?

In a personal capacity the advancement of smart devices and communication tools as well as the collaboration the internet provides us with by allowing us to connect with each other no matter where we are. I am a strong advocate for face-to-face contact and the developments in video meeting technology and diversity of choice makes this possible.  

Professionally there have been many technologies that have greatly improved the automation of tasks within service management. My favourite is the advancement of IT service management ticketing tools such as Jira, ServiceNow and Cherwell, including their self-service capability. This has cut down on unnecessary admin resource effort and allowed us to focus on more enjoyable and challenging activities.

Do you have any predictions for the industry?

I think that we will see an accelerated advancement in machine learning in the next few years beyond what we are currently seeing. This will have a direct impact on how we service our customers which will be exciting to see and be a part of.

One of the things I would like to see more of is diversity within our workforce. A lot of times during my career I was always the only woman or Pacific Islander in the room or team and while I think there has been lots of improvement here I think there's a lot more we can do to increase diversity as well as bring awareness and acceptance of it. Not just gender or culture but also neurodiversity as that is just as important.  

Have you experienced major life events during your time at Fronde?  

Recently this year in July I lost my grandfather, who played a big part in my life. He was a father figure to me and the centre leader of our extended family as is common with Maori and Pacific Island families. When we say family or whanau it is often not just parents and siblings but a whole village of people who are considered close family. He lived a long and happy life just two weeks shy of his 91st birthday and was sharp and witty right up to his last breath. Going through the grieving process, especially supporting my children who had a close relationship with him has been a life-changing event.

Who inspires you and why?

I have many sources of inspiration in my life both personally and professionally but if I had to choose two to mention they would be our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern as she exemplifies a woman in a leadership role who is also a mother. Watching her lead our country through Covid has been inspiring, including how she has faced criticism and feedback. Second but no means least, my mother. A single mum, she raised me with the help of her parents and studied for her Masters while I was very young. She has achieved so much and epitomises that you can dream big and do anything you want in life, you just need to believe in yourself and do it.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself outside of work?

Outside of work my primary focus is my young family. I have four sons aged 15, 13, 4 and 2 years of age. They keep me and my husband busy and finding the right work-life balance is always something we strive for! I also enjoy being creative - art\drawing has been a big time hobby of mine all my life as well as a passion for Pacific Island dance and singing classical and R&B music. There's not much time to pack hobbies in but when I get the chance these are the things I enjoy.