When Craig Packer left school before his fifth form exams (NCEA Level 1), he did so with untapped potential – great potential. At the time, school just wasn’t for him.
The transformation over the coming years was extraordinary, spurred on even more so by great opportunity found in a return to education with TANZ eCampus. At Christmas, Craig celebrated graduating with Level 4 in First Line Management, and today he is reflecting on his impressive journey.
“When I was young, I decided school was not for me and I essentially just joined up with a bakery doing their dishes. From there, I progressed to baking, and then moved into a middle management job within production. It was at this point that I found the work quite a challenge as I hadn’t had much in the way of education, or experience, when it came to management.”
With the support of a mentor – a former teacher – Craig was able to get some degree of formal training, but they both agreed Craig was in need of something more. “He suggested to me that a course would be a great start – I didn’t know how well I would do, but I thought it was important to give it a crack. I had done some coursework previously with my baking apprenticeship, but it was quite basic.”
Having spoken with his mentor at length about “life projection” Craig says ultimately he knew he had so much more in him to offer, and returning to study was the right way forward. “At the end of your run, when you enter retirement, what will be important to you then? Do you want the world trip? The Ferrari in the garage? To just pay the bills? It’s about deciding what you want, and then making that happen.”
With 5am starts, and a busy management role divided between the bakery and its head office, Craig knew there would be sacrifices involved, but he was willing to make them to rise to his full potential.
“Sometimes it does come down to giving some things up – for me, it was my gaming. Eight hours of gaming is never a productive use of time anyway!”
Balancing work and study never came as a breeze, but Craig found a system that worked well for him to ensure he could meet all of his obligations. “When you want to upskill, you have to make the right choices every day. For me it was about setting aside time each and every day.”
Craig’s main objective was to be able to have the theory and the practice at his disposal to give him the ability to see things from both sides. “I wanted to develop a different way of looking at things. A lot of the baking world is made up of Gordon Ramseys,” he quips.
“There are a lot of passionate, sometimes angry bosses who teach you one way of doing things. I never saw the merit in that. What I took away from the course was how to treat people well which reflects my attitude – I’m more about collaborating than taking a ‘my way or the highway’ approach.’”
Having successfully passed his course, Craig has his eye on the next educational opportunity with a business degree potentially on the cards. In the meantime, he is now taking his skills and applying them to a larger international business where he is working towards a management role.