Since taking on the role of CEO, Jesse has been spending time with Zeal crew all over Aotearoa, getting a feel for who we are. We had a talk to him about his first few months with us and his dreams for the future. Read more below!
What were you doing before taking on the CEO role at Zeal?
Jesse: I first got involved with Zeal in 2008, in Wellington. I worked for a youth organisation down there and we used Zeal’s spaces for different events/things we had going on at the time.
What drove you to apply for the job at Zeal?
Jesse: People. Bruce, the Chairman of the Board, initially encouraged me to apply for the role and then Matt Grey, Zeal’s last CEO and legend of the game also suggested I should put my name forward – and when Bruce and Matt speak, you listen. Now I have the privilege of being part of the Zeal whānau.
What’s some advice you would pass on to someone wanting to get a job in the youth work industry?
Jesse: Be confident in what you bring to the table. Zeal is a whānau of misfits from different backgrounds and experiences and it’s that diversity and mix of flavour that makes Zeal such a special place to work.
What do you do in your spare time?
Jesse: Family time. My wife and two little girls (3 years and 17 months) are the best!
Why have you chosen to pursue a career in the social impact sector rather than a ‘traditional’ job?
Jesse: For me, purpose in your job is extremely important. We live in a world of great beauty but one which also carries much need. Working in a role like this gives me the privilege of being part of something truly special, a group committed to and who genuinely care for young people. It really is humbling.
What are your hopes for Zeal moving forward?
Jesse: My hopes for Zeal are limitless. I dream of the young people of Aotearoa embracing the innate value they carry and out of that space living lives of purpose. I dream of local communities banding together and showing outrageous care for their young people, local communities where young people feel loved, supported and have that sense of belonging. And I dream of us, Zeal, playing our part in seeing both of these things come to be.
We’ve heard that in a former life you’ve had your own involvement in the creative arts. Tell us more about that.
Haha, yes. In a former life I was a choreographer for a dance group in the early 00’s. From there I co-founded a dance studio, Zion Dance Studios
, which is still going today! I also toured the country acting, singing and dancing with a performing arts group as a teen – those were the days.
Apparently you love your books. What are you top five that you think everyone should read?
What’s your favourite cafe in Auckland?
Read more from Zeal:
At Zeal, we don’t want a culture by default; we want to name it, create it and hold each other to it. And the way we arrive at shared culture is through embodying shared values.
“For me, purpose in your job is extremely important. We live in a world of great beauty but one which also carries much need. Working in a role like this gives me the privilege of being part of something truly special, a group committed to and who genuinely care for young people. It really is humbling.”