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Learning to lead


Creating the right look for a building often requires blending different colours, tints and textures to get the perfect balance. Charlotte Lee from Queenstown’s Resene ColorShop has taken a similar approach when it comes to creating her career. In five years, she’s gained a mix of skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications that have helped her become one of the famous Kiwi brand’s top managers in the country.

Today, looking out from the new store to an inspiring view of the Remarkables, she says all going well, the Queenstown branch will win gold at Resene’s annual awards.

“We’ve got a great team and it would be nice to take them to the top. They really deserve it.”

Charlotte got her first brush with Resene in Timaru five years ago. She had no experience of retail or the painting and decorating industry. But the business, which has a reputation for proactively advancing employees skills and expertise on-job, was willing to invest in the training development she needed to make a go of it.

Within six months, the self-described “tenacious” learner laddered up from customer service into leadership.

In her second year as manager, the Resene Timaru team was recognized as one of 3 top performing stores nationally, in fact they topped their tier.

Around the same time, Charlotte decorated her CV with three nationally-recognised qualifications she gained on-job, starting with a base coat of retail essentials (the New Zealand Certificate in Retail – Level 2 and Level 3) and finishing with team leadership (the New Zealand Certificate in Retail – Level 4).

However you look at it, it’s an impressive achievement.

“Since coming out of school, I’ve been extremely fortunate to be given management skills and the chance to build up my experience on the job. Resene took me on and gave me the encouragement and the ServiceIQ workplace training I needed,” she says.

“I’ve always had the support of a great network of people behind me.”

For Charlotte and her staff, one of the biggest attractions is being paid to train while they work.

“It’s an opportunity at a free education and a stepping stone into Resene’s training system that links with our remuneration.”

They say a change of scenery is as good as a rest, though her move from Timaru to help paint picturesque Queenstown is far from sedate says Charlotte.

She manages a team of five who ensure a smooth and steady pour of every shade of schist, tussock and other paint colours for the contractors undercoating and putting the finishing touches on Queenstown’s massive building boom.

Everything from hotels, a supermarket, country club, tourism businesses and miles of residential builds, says Charlotte.

“It’s a good challenge. I’d taken the Timaru store as far as it could go, so Queenstown was a perfect next step. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it really well.”

Charlotte Lee circle

While up-skilling her staff, she’s successfully completed two further qualifications on-job: the New Zealand Certificate in Management – Level 3 and Level 4.

“I get bored really easily, so I need personal growth – especially over the winter months. This study is advancement for me in the future. I also like to be trained as well as training others.”

Charlotte has a well-polished, proven philosophy on leadership.

She believes it’s about valuing people and giving them the opportunity to develop their talents and understanding of the business. The approach certainly pays dividends, she says.

“I think many people in positions of power hold onto knowledge because they fear someone might take their role, but for me it’s the opposite. Good leadership is sharing what you know and empowering your employees to be able to work autonomously and together as a team.

“That’s how we offer a consistent standard of service and enjoy what we do. I’ve lost track of the number of customers who come into this store and remark on how happy the staff are.”

Training her team on-job has also helped the business retain experienced staff whose product knowledge and industry expertise is valued by customers.

“I treat the ones I’ve got like gold.”

For more information, please contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or email