How buying a coffee leveled up my career

I distinctly remember hearing a very familiar voice calling my name, just as I picked up my coffee from one of my favourite cafes in the Sydney CBD. Fossix on Pitt Street makes the best cold brew and never disappoints with a delicious snack.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t been visiting here as often as I used to. Back at that point, I was working out west in Homebush for a small IT company. On that day, I had gone into the city with my partner to get my student ID sorted and to attend a work function nearby later that night. Funnily enough, my partner also had an interview that day in the building opposite the café.

It wasn’t until I’d turned around with my coffee in hand that I recognised the two friendly faces that had called out my name – Rachel and Dan, who I used to work with at Optus a few years back.

We kept chatting in the lobby and had laughed about the good old times when we worked with each other. Out of the blue, Rachel told me that I need to come and work at Engage Squared if I wanted to progress my career down the IT project management path. Keeping in mind that Rachel has a way with words and could sell wine to an owner of a vineyard, she brought up the culture of Engage Squared and how the work we’d done together in the past had transferrable skills for what was being offered. From what she had mentioned, it sounded like a great place to work!

A couple of days later…

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Rachel reached out to Engage Squared’s HR Manager, Georgie, who set up a call with me. Despite there not being a direct opportunity for IT project management, I could get my foot in the door by doing the sales administration and marketing role, and get trained on their systems and processes to become a Project Manager.

After that initial call with Georgie, an interview was set up with the directors. That interview was the first I experienced where casual chat was welcome – we talked about our weekend, we joked, and most importantly, we finally got to the crux of the meeting. One of the directors, Steve, had asked me sternly, “So Lauren, do you like zoos? At our last Winter party, we were eating and drinking and having a great time surrounded by meerkats!”

We also spoke of qualifications and previous work experience, but I knew after that interview that I wanted in. What followed next were a few exercises and a small presentation. Once that was sent across and my answers scanned through, my start date with Engage Squared was booked in!

I’m now a year in and there have been no meerkats to date unfortunately, but there has been an abundance of shared memories, inside jokes, ALL of the gif reactions and teammates checking in randomly just to see how I’m going.

Oh, and if you were wondering, my partner did get the job next door, and now because of COVID, it’s completely irrelevant.


Lauren Simonson

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