Auckland Curator Kim Lesch recently had a chat with Auckland local Anna Rose Kerr. Anna is a co-founder of Nerd Soirèe, a monthly meetup created for women who love the internet. She is also an advertising veteran, curious traveller, accomplished dinner party host, and a part of the digital team at Saatchi & Saatchi in Auckland. 

Anna Rose Kerr
Anna Rose Kerr

What are your five favorite things about Auckland? What makes this city a great place to live?

1. The diversity of the landscape, we have farms, beaches, mountains, islands and even a wee bit of metropolitan life in the middle. I grew up in a very clean, green Auckland – we had a vegetable garden and chickens out the back of our Ponsonby villa – and at that time we were seen as one of the cleanest, greenest cities in the world. We need to work at regaining that title.

2. It’s a really small community so most people you meet here are connected to you in some way.

That makes networking events a whole lot less awkward, because everyone just assumes you’re a friend of a friend.

3. We do have some pretty great ads, which makes it a pretty great place to live if that’s your profession.

4.  I’ve always been fascinated by history. While Auckland doesn’t have very much of it I do like that most of our place names are very descriptive of how they came to be. I made an iPhone app a while back, which translates NZ place names for those who don’t speak Te Reo so you can find out the story behind the place you’re in. Auckland also played a huge part in the worldwide women’s suffrage movement. I don’t think we do enough to celebrate the achievements of those women, but every time I visit the Auckland Art Gallery I visit the commemorative fountain across the road, and leave white camellias there if I can.

5. I love Britomart, which is where I live. I remember when this place was absolutely desolate a few years back, and a group of passionate, young Aucklanders have completely turned that around. There are several great restaurants and bars as well as communal working places attracting startups and creative businesses to the area. For me this is an example of how much potential Auckland has, and how that can be fulfilled if we can convince our smart young ones to stick around for bit.

How did you end up in advertising and what do you love about it?

I wanted to work in advertising when I was a very young child. I saw the famous Saatchi & Saatchi geese ad on TV and knew the building in Parnell, I thought they must have a lot of important people working inside. When I was 16 I wrote a very nice letter to them and managed to get work experience there, and now after a few years of advertising I’m back there again.

Brands are realising that instead of telling people to like them, they should just become more likeable. This makes my job really fun.

Essentially we work out what our clients can do to help or entertain people, and do it. I also benefit from working for the best boss in the world.

The Nerd Soirèe Crew, from left: Alex Waskiewicz, Alice Hawke, Anna Rose Kerr, and Jen Flitter. Not pictured: Laura Justice.

Tell me a little bit of background on Nerd Soiree and what goals you gals have.

We like to think of ourselves as a “social network” in real life, it’s an opportunity for women who love all things nerdy to come and meet new friends. And we’re fortunate enough to have some kind sponsors who buy us drinks! Our goal is to create a community of women who can look to each other for support as their careers progress. We have developers, bloggers, tweeters, designers, creatives, marketers and all sorts who come along, and we’re connected by our love for (or in some cases addiction to) the internet.

We’ve been doing this every month since February 2012 and visit different venues every month. If you’d like to come along, we meet on the 15th of every month and you can check our FacebookTwitterTumblr or join our mailing list for updates on where we’ll be. We’d love to meet you!

What led you to the decision to make it only for ladies?

Jen Flitter has always been very passionate about Nerd Soiree being ladies only, and using our community to help more young girls become interested in technology. It’s not about women taking over digital industries it’s just about getting the gender balance a bit closer to 50/50! There are plenty of open technology events which men can go to, and usually end up dominating, so we don’t feel like they’re missing out. One of the major benefits of having a female only environment is people are a lot more comfortable and open, so strangers become friends a lot quicker. It also means that we can do fun girly things like host an event in a lingerie store!

What groups would you suggest to others to enable them to be part of their local communities? International as well as NZ based would be great.

Obviously if you’re a woman you should come along to Nerd Soiree! Girl Geek Dinners has recently rebooted in Auckland and they are running events with interesting female speakers. We love what they’re doing, and in 2013 we hope to join forces on a couple of projects to help females get ahead in their careers. Watch this space!

Internationally, I think SheSays is really valuable. Only 3% of advertising creative directors are women, so their focus is making that number a lot higher by giving women the skills they need to get ahead in advertising, as well as changing perceptions in the industry.

As you can tell I’m really passionate about creating more opportunities for skilled women, but there are plenty of other inspirational events in Auckland that I enjoy going to; Gather, TEDX and Semi Permanent are among those. Just be friendly when you see someone standing on their own and you’re bound to make new friends!

Thanks for chatting to The Fetch, Anna Rose! 

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