Kieran Corlett works for FMG, an insurer that specialises in rural insurance and has been an important part of New Zealand’s rural landscape since 1905. As the Lead Test Analyst and Scrum Master for projects on the IT side, Kieran facilitates the building and customising of software for the company.
Day to day, Kieran makes sure quality is maintained across the board, trains and supports staff, and designs the overall testing plan for IT systems.
We asked him a few questions about his role and life in Palmerston North.
What drew you to Palmerston North?
I moved here with my partner, Lucy, after she graduated from Accounting at Victoria University in Wellington. Palmerston North was great for us because there is a strong economy here with a good number of employers for her, and I was able to finish my studies here (which I started at Massey University in Wellington).
What do you like about living and working here?
I really enjoy working for FMG and there are a number of other big employers here. Because of Massey University, there are lots of young and talented people in the city which makes it an active, interesting and vibrant place.
The city is far more affordable than larger cities like Auckland and Wellington or Christchurch, so like other young professionals here, there is a realistic chance of being able to buy a home. Plus, there is plenty of room for the city to keep expanding.
It has everything else a city like Auckland or Wellington has, but without the crowding or busyness which we like. It’s a compact place too, so everything is within walking or biking distance and there’s lots of affordable parking! The commute time is a major positive – I don’t have to spend over an hour each way commuting like I would in Wellington or Auckland.
We love the region’s central location in the lower North Island because it is easy to travel elsewhere for weekends or trips away.
What is unique about Palmerston North?
The work-life balance. Palmy is great because it has all the big city things like employment, entertainment, food, arts, shops, etc, but it is much more relaxed, with cheaper living costs, no commute, affordable housing and more.
What do you like about working for FMG?
I love working at FMG Insurance in Palmerston North. The people are great, and the friendly culture means you really get to know and make friends with the people you work with.
Because we are growing so successfully there are lots of opportunities for development and progression – both upwards and into new areas. Having previously worked for large corporates I am really passionate about the fact FMG is a mutual owned by its members.
Because of being a mutual, we have to make a profit, but we don’t have to maximise it, so we are genuinely trying to do what’s best for our customers and our values are more than just lip service. FMG also has a really good engagement culture including events, development, awards, recognition, and an active social club.
Do you think you could do your job elsewhere too?
Yes, although I would probably get paid around the same, so I’d face significantly higher costs of living. I would also have to sacrifice some quality of life due to the commute, busyness, and other things I said above.
How do you find the social scene in Palmerston North, is there plenty to do in your time off?
When I was a student I found that there was a very good nightlife – just as good as when I was a student in Wellington.
Now that I have a family (we have two daughters, Rosie and Keely) I find that Palmy has lots of walks, parks, and playgrounds. There are lots of natural areas within and just outside of the city.
There’s heaps of stuff to do for young families – a really good museum, four theatres, lots of art, and all the normal city things like a stadium, movie theatres, shopping malls etc. There are lots of clubs and groups around, but FMG has awesome social clubs and groups so I tend to go to those.
Do you find there are plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded people in the city through professional networks?
Palmerston North has the same sort of professional networks and organisations as big cities. I recently joined several – Toast Masters, a group for Test Analysts and an IT professionals group. There is also the Manawatū Young Professionals Network. We’re also pretty close to Wellington so it’s easy to visit for the larger national conferences and events.