Mar 31, 2020 9:13:51 AM

Nerita’s Story: Giving Back

Nerita has been involved in MyPass®’s growth from the very beginning, playing the role of sounding board and risk assessor at each point along the way. Nerita has an infectious positive energy and passion for life that always boosts morale whenever she’s around the team. As an executive assistant at MyPass®, she keeps everything ticking over and is quick to resolve any issues for the team that may arise. Here’s how our catch-up with Nerita went. 

Nerita and family

What’s something that you’re passionate about?

The thing that makes my life worth living is to connect with others, help them find purpose and to make others’ lives more meaningful and great, where they feel like other humans care for them.

My dad was a minister and my mum a school teacher, that’s what made them tick and what their lives were all about, so I guess it’s in my nature as well. I’m driven by helping others to feel good about themselves. Sometimes that’s not so good because I can tend to be a little passive, but most of the time it works out pretty well for me because if others are having a good time I’m usually having a pretty good time too.  

How do you know when you’re having a positive impact on someone?

I know I’m having an impact when I look around and everyone has a smile on their face and they seem a little more confident than before. 

You’ve had a pretty unique perspective on MyPass®’ s journey as a business… What’s it been like watching from that position?

It’s been pretty hilarious because Matt’s a real optimist. I guess to be an entrepreneur you have to be incredibly optimistic and determined. That’s often put me in the position of trying to balance that out with some realism. Matt’s always had the mindset of “another two weeks and we’ll get the breakthrough” and I just try to be real about the long-term journey MyPass® has been on. 

I guess it’s been really fascinating riding the start-up roller coaster. There have been so many wins and setbacks along the way that I’m pretty level-headed now. I don’t get too taken away with the highs or caught up in the lows. I’ve learnt to keep a balanced mindset and not to get too emotionally involved with the journey. It’s been a good lesson for life I suppose, not getting too attached to those emotions or to the money. I guess it’s about appreciating the journey. We’ve always said that at the end of the day we want to have had a great experience that has involved a lot of different people and helped them on their own journeys. When you put a significant investment into something, it’s a good lesson in saying “You know what, the financial side isn’t the most important. Keep a level head, remain optimistic and enjoy the process.” When you have to say goodbye to financial security, all that’s left is to pull your bootstraps up and have a positive attitude because that’s the best option. 

Nerita and her family

Nerita & Matt Smith with their family

What was your background before you were involved with MyPass®?

My training is as an Occupational Therapist and I worked in mental health. Before starting a family, I used to do group and individual counselling with people who mainly had depression, anxiety, bipolar or schizophrenia.

I guess the values my parents instilled in me led me down that path, so my university studies confirmed them even stronger. I worked first in public with everyday people, homeless people, kids, and teenagers. Then I worked in private settings with corporates and also returned servicemen. What I learnt from that is that everyone’s basically the same, they suffer from the same problems but I guess some people are equipped with better life skills to be able to cope with the challenges we all face. 

When I think back there are so many people who are still close to my heart. People who had real light bulb moments, of realising they’re not alone, that others have been in their situation before and can help them find a way out. I’m proud of being a part of their therapeutic journey. 

How have you managed all the travel over the years?

Originally moving to Australia from New Zealand was great. I love change and I’m always excited to have change. I moved around quite a lot as a kid and it’s never something I shied away from.

The opportunity we had to take MyPass® and our family to the U.S. in 2019 was amazing. We went for over three months, and in a way I got to be a child again, spending so much time with the kids. I was able to enjoy opening their eyes to a bigger world and seeing them become confident in challenging situations. 

Travelling is awesome as it opens my eyes to new sides of life. However, I find appreciating every day where I am is more meaningful and powerful than a trip. 

Nerita and her children in America

Nerita & her kids in America

What are all the different hats you’ve worn at MyPass®?

I’ve really enjoyed sharing the journey with Matt and being a sounding board. I guess being a bit of a motivator at the start for him to leave his job and follow his dreams. I’ve helped review the plans, refine ideas and decide together which risks we take. Then I guess there’s helping out the executive team, booking flights and accommodation and holding the keys to the bank account! 

What are you excited about moving forward?

As a result of my training and past jobs, I’m particularly excited for MyPass® branching out into the volunteer and health space. I love the thought of MyPass® having that philanthropic element to branch out to organisations doing that kind of work. It really speaks to the personal driver of mine that connects back to my work as a therapist and shows that MyPass® can have an impact way beyond the industries we started out in. 

Finally, what type of fruit would you be and why?

I just thought of a really cheesy sounding one: passion fruit is probably my favourite fruit. Pretty average on the outside but spectacular on the inside *LAUGHS*.

No that’s way too cheesy - I couldn’t say that, let me think. Well, one day I’ll be wrinkly like a passionfruit that’s for sure. 

A bit sweet, a bit sour, a nice blend *LAUGHS*. 

I’m particularly excited for MyPass® branching out into the volunteer and health space. I love the thought of MyPass® having that philanthropic element to branch out to organisations doing that kind of work.

— Nerita Smith (Executive Assistant)