SHIFT Consultant Profile: Cat Popplewell

Cat Popplewell shares how working as a SHIFT Consultant has allowed her to create the work-life balance she was looking for.

Cat Popplewell - SHIFT Consultant

Tell us about yourself:

I grew up on a farm in a small, rural town in Northland, and moved to Auckland when I was 10 years old.  After secondary school, I spent a year studying in France, first at a Lycée (high school) and then at Law School, after which I returned to Auckland University to study (not surprisingly) Law and French.  I spent the first few years of my career working in the legal divisions of financial services firms, and am primarily a corporate-commercial lawyer with a special interest in technology. 

I live in Auckland with my husband and 2 of my 3 teenage sons, the third of whom will be returning from Ōtautahi later this month for the university holidays.  My eldest is a coxswain and my youngest is a rower, so I have been doing the early morning rowing runs and regular trips back and forth from Karapiro for a number of years now. 

I am currently on a school board and the board of a charitable organisation, and have recently completed the Institute of Directors Company Directors’ Course.  You’ll also see me advocating and fundraising for The Migraine Foundation Aotearoa NZ and Bowel Cancer NZ, two charities that are dear to my heart.  I’m passionate about helping children, particularly children living in poverty, and work a lot with The Breakfast Club in this space. One of the programmes that I run every Christmas is collecting school bags for new entrant children attending schools in low socio-economic areas filled with things they need for a great start to school life, so if you’re interested in getting your workplace on board (or even preparing a bag yourself) please get in touch!  

What do you love about the job you do?   

I am a word nerd at heart (I still do the Wordle every morning!) and genuinely enjoy crafting clauses and agreements to resolve issues.  In my most recent role with SHIFT I had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people both in Auckland and across the globe, so the wonderful colleagues were definitely a highlight.  I have just started a new role and am excited about the opportunity to add some real, long-term value to an organisation that Kiwis work with every day.      

What makes working with SHIFT unique?  

I do a lot of volunteer work so working with SHIFT allows me to do interesting and exciting legal work while leaving space for my passionsI spent a bit of time a couple of years ago looking at “where to next?” and after a chat with the wonderfully inspiring Lani Evans MNZM, I decided that part time legal work leaving space for philanthropy was the work-life balance I was looking forSHIFT enables me to do this in a way that I can fill all my buckets, and so far I have been extremely lucky with the flexibility of my contractsI love that I don’t have to be the one to negotiate the flexibility: I say what I can do and that is what is offeredIt’s a wonderful model for me. 

Best book/podcast/show you have recently indulged in? 

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is my #1 book this year.  A wonderfully written novel tackling issues of sexism, sexual assault, and the challenges for women working in a male dominated workforce in the early 1960s, many of which are sadly all too familiar, even today.  It also has an underlying rowing theme, so how could I resist?  

In terms of podcasts, my 2 favourite Kiwi podcasts are Business is Boring and This Climate Business, both of which focus on Kiwi investors, entrepreneurs and innovators telling stories about their successes and learnings in their fields.  I also enjoy Finscale, a podcast with a largely European FinTech focus which often introduces me to businesses that I have not come across before.  The podcast is usually in French but occasionally in English, depending on the guest. 

I have just started to listen to Jo vs Cancer, Jo McKenzie-McLean’s story of her terminal bowel cancer diagnosis and brave journey.  The last episode was recorded 4 days before she passed away, so I am sure it will be a harrowing listen. 

No recent shows to recommend I’m afraid; I deleted all of our streaming services a few months ago.  Although… I hear that Lessons in Chemistry is being released on Apple TV + soon, so I may need to reinstate at least one service! 

Favourite Restaurant or Café and any menu recommendations?

I am a huge fan of Vivace, and it (in its 3 different locations over the past 30 years) has been the location of so many special moments for me.  I love the shared plates and recommend pretty much everything, but the ceviche is definitely a star player. 

Favourite Way to Unwind

I love going for a walk when I need to unwind, and grab the opportunity when I can.  The water is my happy place, so when the weather permits, I can spend hours in the sea (or a pool)I also love an impromptu catch up with friends.