Living, working and playing to the fullest
Story by Sonya Bloomfield
Full of enthusiasm and bubbling with ideas, Miria Royal often has to slow her curious mind as she questions the world around her.
Her journey to where she is now began in a fishing settlement between Orere Point and Thames called Kaiaua. Miria’s Father is Maori from Ngati Whanaunga and Ngati Tamatera, and her Mother is Pakeha, also from Hauraki. With three younger brothers, she grew up in Porirua and went to an all girls school in Wellington, St Mary’s.
Luckily for Miria and her future as an engineering grad, her Mum and Dad were pretty strict that she went to a school where she had the option of the full range of subjects. She always liked building things and understanding why things worked the way they did and her best subjects were art, art history and physics.
At Victoria University, Miria initially began an engineering degree but after a semester she switched over to Design. Not being gifted with the art of patience, Miria soon realised that being a Designer was not for her so went back to Engineering to study a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Computer Systems, specialising in Robotics and Radio Propagation.
Coming from an all female environment at school, it was a bit of a shock to the system when Miria turned up to an all male engineering class. “Everyone else had come with their mates and I was tall, lanky girl that stuck out like a sore thumb.”
Being a small class and all male, it was very competitive and it was difficult for the first couple of years.
“I was the only girl in my class, that was pretty standard though, they got used to me and I just learnt to grow a really strong backbone, and a thick skin.”
Miria learnt to fight her corner well and stood up for herself against the all male pack, developing resilience and good relationships with her lecturers.
“If I didn’t have lecturers that stuck their necks out for me and pushed me along I probably would have dropped out, they were great.”
I think of the quote “if you don’t ask you don’t get” when Miria told me of how she got her job at Vodafone. “I just rocked up to Sandra Pickering at an industry event and asked her if I could join the graduate programme”.
It was serendipity in the making. Right place, right time, right question. Sandra was developing the technology graduate program at Vodafone and had a particular focus on supporting Maori students.
It’s been a couple of years now since Miria joined Vodafone as a Technology Graduate. She initially went through a rotational program in the Networks team which saw her have two months rotations into different teams giving her good broad knowledge of the technology business.
While she was in the graduate program Miria started the Future Leaders in Telecommunications, an association for graduates and apprentices in the telecommunications industry. She realised that they were all working on some really cool stuff like the rural broadband project but weren't given the opportunity to understand why they were doing it, or how it will impact upon New Zealand.
She pulled together 16 companies and 150 members. So far they have had three hosted events with guest speakers to bring the graduate and apprentices together to talk about the part they play in making these projects happen. Her biggest challenge has been finding funding but she’s had fun ringing people up to see if they could help.
Miria has recently moved into technical pre-sales role as a Solutions Consultant. This means she goes out to see clients and discusses what their solution should be and what their needs are, similar to a high level designer.
This is right up her alley and she is definitely enjoying the people contact. “Building relationships is something that I really enjoy.”
All through her journey at Vodafone Miria has searched out Mentors. With her curious mind she has constant questions and they keep her grounded while still allowing her big ideas to flourish. They are something Miria now really values and she wishes she sought it out more at University.
Outside of work Miria is still very connected to her iwi and travels back to her marae once a month to learn her iwi's reo, waiata and karakia from her elders. Her culture is very important to her and I can hear the passion in her voice when she starts telling me about her ideas in this area, we could have talked for hours.
With Miria’s happy go lucky personality it’s not surprising that she has a lot of friends around her and in her downtime she loves to go rambling through shops on the lookout for cool things to buy.
In true Maori style she is thinking way into the future and has long term dreams that revolve around iwi development. Until then she is certainly enjoying the journey of the here and now and figuring everything out.
But hey, that’s half the fun.