#WFH Diaries: Maria Devereux of Colenso BBDO New Zealand

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to rage across the globe, we're checking in with folks in the creative industry to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Maria Devereux of Colenso BBDO in New Zealand.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

Kindness Warrior and executive creative director of Colenso BBDO.

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

I'm in Auckland, New Zealand. My husband Justin and 7-year-old son Oliver are my isolation "bubble buddies" during lockdown and in life.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

I'm currently enjoying working in our attic, which also doubles as my husband's music studio. It's a creative space and I have the pleasure of being serenaded while I work. Although I do have to admit, I'm missing my people. Colenso is known for its infectious creative energy, so a lot of my time has been spent trying to recreate that energy in the virtual workplace.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Talk. Talk. Talk. And talk some more until I feel I've connected with all the people and all the things I care about. Oh and add stupid filters to all video chat.

How are you dealing with childcare?

I'm in awe of my husband, who has become an incredible stand-in teacher for our son. He's created a daily timetable to help establish a routine and has made their days as fun as possible given the circumstances. Don't worry, there's some yelling thrown in with the laughing. Within that routine, there's time for craft, so Oliver and I created some colorful Easter eggs to hang in our front window. It's our contribution to Jacinda Ardern's #NZEggHunt. 

What are you reading?

Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Lynne Twist's The Soul of Money, and on recommendation by superstar CCO Jordan Doucette, The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins.

What are you watching?

I'm re-watching my favorite episodes of Chef's Table. I've always loved baking, but I'm finding joy in the simple act of being resourceful and creating from scratch what I usually buy from the supermarket. 

What are you listening to?

This has been a creative time for my husband, so I'm listening to him on repeat. And being a massive bluegrass fan, I'm also loving kiwi musicians @burnthebridgesmusic and @shadowmountainband from Joshua Tree, California.

How are you staying fit?

To stay mentally fit, I'm continuing my daily meditation practice and making sure I get some (solitary) time in nature. To stay physically fit, I've taken to skipping in my backyard. They tell me 10 minutes of skipping is equal to 30 minutes of running, so I'm in!

Have you taken up a hobby?

I've been cross-stitching guns for 10 years now. The guns I've chosen to stitch are associated with high-profile mass killings, past and present. My most recent piece was a life size AR-15, the weapon used in NZ's recent terrorist attack in Christchurch. The scale and detail of these pieces mean they require both time and patience, so lockdown is the perfect time to get stitching. 

Any tips for getting necessities?

We're getting the bare essentials delivered to our door, but I've been making a lot of our food from scratch—bread, marshmallows, pastry, cereal and even hot cross buns. I've been enjoying cooking from my grandmother's handwritten recipe book, which is a beautiful testament to a much simpler time. 

An awkward moment since all this started.

Realizing I hadn't put enough effort into my costume for Colenso's dress-up video chat day (pictured above) was super embarrassing. Luckily, Snapchat effects filters saved the day.

Best work email you got since all this started.

Our creative director @thomasdarlow has performed and recorded a version of John Lennon's song "Isolation" about #WFH life. You can watch it here:

An aha! moment since all this started.

We can successfully operate a creative agency of 134 people from our homes.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

I'm an optimist. My hope is that by wiping out COVID-19, New Zealand will become a bubble of 5 million people offering their incredible products and services to the rest of the world. Perhaps our dairy products, meat, wine, filmmakers, innovators, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers could help those countries struggling to get back on their feet?

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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