Who is IT NZ: Victoria Spackman

v-spackmanThe Who is IT NZ bus rolls on with yet another Victoria (suggested alternative titles include “Victorious” or “Victorias’ secrets”). This week’s we talked to Gibson Group‘s CEO Victoria Spackman.

Who is IT NZ is a new 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?

My business is the Gibson Group. We make film and television, and visitor experiences for customers around the world. New Zealand, Australia, the States, Europe, Egypt. We’re in four continents now. Projects that is. Not offices.

What’s your role?

I’m the CEO and I’m also the owner of the business, along with two of my colleagues.

Being CEO means I help everyone else achieve what they need to achieve. I’m ensuring excellence, I’m making sure circumstances are right and the right people are in the right place to achieve everything we need to achieve.

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

We design and deliver creative experiences for screens and spaces around the world and in New Zealand. Including film, television, museums, galleries, libraries, archives and tourist attractions.

What’s your favourite virtue?

I am really admiring generous kindness in other people at the moment. The world is a rough place at the moment and people being gentle and calm and respectful of each other when a lot of people are a little bit uptight … it’s really lovely. I think it’s really important. Kindness in and of itself is a rare quality.

What do you look for in a friend?

Someone who challenges me, questions my assumptions, helps me solve my problems, and looks after me.

[I put it to Victoria that this sounded like a business partner, she said “they do that as well. Maybe my friends and business partners are close to the same thing. Friends are people you turn to in times of need and help you solve problems or tell you they can’t be solved and you need to suck it up …maybe there’s no difference?]

What’s your dominant characteristic?

Argumentativeness. At the extreme end, it manifests as being genuinely argumentative and annoying but at the other end it’s challenging assumptions and asking what can I change? How can I help? Are your assumptions right? Is that really the only story?

What’s your biggest flaw?

Late nights and too much theatre. Particularly during Fringe! I also texted my partner and asked “what’s my greatest flaw?” and he said “asking leading questions!” which is both funny and true. So that’s the other one. Apparently.


What’s your favourite occupation?

I can’t imagine doing anything other than similar things to what I do. I don’t think I ever really had a dream job. I just have dream connections and dream people to work with. Dream impacts. Rather than dream jobs.

I love working with creative people. People who want to get stuff done. The specific job I do – the title, the role – it’s not really what it’s about.

What’s your idea of happiness?

Friends and food. Together at the same time. Almost any food. I’m a really good cook. Lots of my friends and family are really good cooks, so communal, fun – sometimes I go intricate, sometimes I go broad brush.

[I asked her what the best thing she’d ever made was, Victoria wasn’t 100% sure but said the one thing she always goes back to is cakes. She said there are a few great cakes she makes, one she calls 3 Day Cake, citrus, almond, basil, pistachio cake with apricot glaze which is pretty spectacular. People who say they don’t like cake, I say “try this” and they love it.]

What’s your idea of misery?

I’m not very good at solitude, or rather I’m not very good at silent solitude. I’m happy to read a book or listen to a podcast, or play a silly game. But …. If I’m deprived of all that … even a pack of cards is enough.

I’m a yoga person, but couldn’t do it for very long and certainly can’t sit at home and do nothing.

I’m happy to read a book for three hours … but if you take that book away from me…

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

I don’t have an answer for this question. Everybody else has drawbacks…I mean there are plenty of drawbacks to being me but everyone else has them too. I’ve never wanted to be someone famous, or some particularly high profile person…because I see so much grey, I think “yeah you’re amazing, or rich or powerful or fun” but then I think “you’ll have massive drawbacks that I don’t know about.”

Where do you wish you could live?

I imagine every so often I’d like to live somewhere noisy, exciting and vibrant and all day all the time something going on…Manhattan, Shanghai, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur…that sort of thing. But then I’m reminded that I complain about how noisy Newtown is at night and I think “nah”.

I have an Italian degree and my Italian is ropey but passable and I think ah! Tuscany! So I don’t know.

What’s your favourite colour and favourite flower?

lily-1319428_1280Colour is really easy. Everybody who knows me knows my favourite colour is purple. And has been since I could say “no” according to my father. And flowers are … mostly purple ones. Lilies. Irises. Freesias. I also like the smell of Freesias. Pansies.

I also like gerberas because they’re so flowery. If you draw a flower that’s what they look like. They are the proto-flower. And they come in nice bright colours too.

Who’s your favourite character in fiction?

Thomasina Coverly who is in Arcadia which is my favourite play. Tom Stoppard who you probably know as the writer of Shakespeare in Love, he’s a playwright and in my opinion the best playwright writing English, even though it’s his second language. Arcadia is … his best and arguably the best. There are thousands who disagree with me.

But she’s fabulous, the character. She’s 12 or 13 in the play, she’s super clever, super inquisitive, smarter than everyone else around her, she picks up things fast. She’s just a delightful character. She’s not even the main character in the play. But she’s fabulous. I read the play every six months or so and find new jokes every time.

What’s your favourite swear word?

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I think the word I say the most is buggery bollocks. I try not to swear too much. I have a pretty sweary office. I think that’s what I say the most. It’s not very offensive.

If you’d like to take part in Who is IT Wellington, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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