Who is IT NZ: Victoria Armstrong

I did not expect there to be this many Victorias in the NZ IT scene. And yet here we are. Another Who is IT NZ, another Victoria. This week we talked to WhosOnLocation’s COO Victoria Armstrong.

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 WhosOnLocation. It’s about managing people … on location. In essence we do visitor management, contractor management, staff management and evacuation management. Four key features within one application. And the value is that organisations can manage all people types, whereas in the past it’s disparate. People are looking for integration to make things smarter and easier.

What’s your role?

My role is COO, otherwise known as Operations Sensei. I’m one of the main shareholders in the company too. But my responsibilities are in the finance and marketing side. I take responsibility for our teams around that.

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

[We acknowledged that Victoria had given us a sort of elevator pitch in her first answer, but we let her have another one because we’re generous like that].

We help organisations like 3M, Unilever, Coca Cola, protect the safety and security of their people and assets. We do that by helping them manage and control who’s coming on site and who’s allowed on site.

What’s your favourite virtue?

Virtue…ummm…just openness and transparency. It’s important. In my background, I’ve come across people who aren’t open and transparent, whether that’s an ego thing, or a lack of confidence thing or they’ve been told how to do something because this guy in a book said it. They’re not sitting within their skin and you know it. Instinctively. I just feel that you need to unburden yourself with openness and transparency, because when you fit in your own skin you’re the best of you, and it’s engaging and magnetic. I really value that when I see it in people because I know that’s me.

What do you look for in a friend?

Loyalty. I like characteristics where they’re different as well. Having the same value set as me is important. But the characteristics…I’m not the most creative person in the world, a lot of my friends are highly creative, so I’m attracted to that difference in my own self. But the underlying bed of me and my value set…it’s really important to have that aligned. And loyalty is a given. Sounds cliche.

What’s your dominant characteristic?

Friendliness. High energy. And drive. Those three together probably go hand-in-hand. As a threesome. It’s all highly organic, the more I am me, the more I am ‘within’ me, and I’m not afraid of that, the more those come out screaming loud. It’s my make up from birth almost, I’m sure of it.

What’s your biggest flaw?

That’s easy, blunt. I’m blunt as hell. Some might say .. or think it … filterless. I’m direct and blunt.

[At this point I challenged Victoria on whether she truly saw this as a flaw given her favourite virtue was “openness and transparency” which is the less pejorative form of the same thing].

I’ve been told that my biggest flaw is that I’ll walk around the house and leave a piece of clothing or footwear in every room for someone to trip over. I think it’s a good flaw, but the difference is my partner sees it as a flaw, and it’s a flaw in her eyes because she’s OCD. But for me it’s like I’m leaving a little stain or imprint there so you can know that I’m around!

What’s your favourite occupation?

Cliched as hell. It’s this. I love it. I love it. My occupation…my current-day fun and play life is what I do. I get to tap into all parts of the business, I get to drive my own business. I get to laugh if I want to and make other people laugh which is a really important thing for me. I have to make people laugh. And I wake up every day excited. I really do. I don’t question that it’s 5 in the morning and the kids have jumped on my head and tried to fart in my face. For me that’s getting up at the start of the day, and it ends in a similar way and my work-play is in the middle there.

You have to design this to get there. Took me a long time to work it out. And if I’m not happy I move on. Simple.

What’s your idea of happiness?

I’ve gone to the gym, pumped some iron, come home, smothered the kids, then I’ve grabbed a bottle of beer and I’m lying in the sun.

My favourite beer at the moment is Garage Project’s Beer Beer or otherwise Tuatara Lager.

What’s your idea of misery?

The antithesis of all that. Put me in a cold place with a cold room, like a fridge, with no social engagement. I’d be the most miserable person in the world. I have to be social. If I was sick and couldn’t go to a party because of that sickness, I’d feel left out. So my body has let me down and I’d caused the problem.

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

That’s a big no. Can’t answer that. I’d probably be an animal. I’d be a prancing unicorn-pony.

Where do you wish you could live?

There’s two places to fuel both sides of me – one is obviously the sun thing. Anywhere in Europe with a beach and a cafe right next to it sort of thing. Six months of the year there. And the other half would be Banks Peninsula. Just calm, beautiful, connection to earth, connection to New Zealand – there’s just something about it. Between the two I’d be a pig in mud.

My partner has history there, so I’ve been there a bit. It’s the dream retirement place. It’s a natural fit for my soul and for hers. But I have to also travel.

What’s your favourite colour and favourite flower?

They go hand in hand. It comes back to … you’re at home when you’re a kid, I used to always run past the landing of the house and my mum would have these flowers up from the garden, so you’d always have this beautiful waft before you went to school in the morning or when you come home. So they’re from our own garden, so it’s either tiger-lilies or ginger plant.

It’s the orange as well. It’s the rustic, earthy orange.

Who’s your favourite character in fiction?

That’s easy. Aslan.  My first dog was named Aslan. And my favourite book in the world is Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

My dog Aslan was a miniature schnauzer and he had the biggest heart, the smallest little thing. Would always lead us on the eastern walkways. He’d try to protect us like the scout out the front.

What I love about Aslan the character is that braveness, that loyalty, the others first. I love animals. All those sorts of things put together says to me that’s the one. But also striving the bigger picture of what’s right and wrong.

What’s your favourite swear word?

Mother of Pearl.

[Both Lou and I were a bit confused by this. As we didn’t really know that “Mother of Pearl” was a swear-word. We probed a bit around this.]

I’ve got two kids under the age of six.

[I pointed out how much Victoria valued openness and bluntness and transparency so she couldn’t hide her swear words now.]

Ok it’s the basic ‘C…t’ you can’t go any further with. I’d use it once a year. Because it’s so …affirming and potent. Although I can’t even remember the last time I used it.

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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