• Jo Aleh, 2016 Rio Olympian.
  • Jo Aleh (left) and Polly Powrie celebrate their silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics
  • Jo Aleh (left) and Polly Powrie after their 2016 Olympic Silver medal win.
  • Jo Aleh with sailing partner Polly Powrie at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
  • Jo Aleh (right) and sailing partner Polly Powrie sail in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Being Millennial - Jo Aleh

In her 30s, Olympic gold medalist, consultant at EY...

We are profiling ‘Millennials' in this, our first issue for 2018. What exactly is a Millennial you might ask? The answer is they are Teenagers, 20 and 30 year olds who were born in the 80s and 90s. They’ve also been called 'Generation Y’.
Millennials are generally regarded as being more open-minded, accepting, confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and receptive to new ideas and ways of living. Millennials are often cited as being more self-assured than past generations, they will also have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a healthy work-life balance and have socially liberal views. The generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.
On the downside they've been described as lazy, narcissistic and prone to jump from job to job. Portrayed as wanting flexible work schedules, more 'me time’ on the job and seek nonstop feedback and career advice. The have also been called the ‘Generation Me', with more of an emphasis on extrinsic values such as money, fame, and image, and less emphasis on intrinsic values such as self-acceptance, group affiliation and community.
The Channel Magazine team set out to find some answers and talked to six local North Shore people who span the Millennial range. From a teenager at school through to a business person running his own firm. Also in our Millennial mix is an Olympic gold medalist, an actor, a marketer and politician and young lawyer.

Channel Magazine: Please share your story so far. What are the highlights for you ?
Jo Aleh: 
I guess my story starts when I was nine years old watching The America’s Cup on TV, for some reason thinking that sailing would be the best thing ever to do, and eventually convincing my parents to let me try! From the age of 11 I sailed every weekend, every day I could, leading to my first Olympic Games in the Laser Radial class in 2008 where I finished 7th. From there I teamed up with Polly Powrie sailing a 470 (two-person women’s Olympic dinghy) and we spent the next eight years sailing together, accumulating a large list of successful results and many great times along the way.
The highlights include winning Gold in London in 2012, a World Championship title in 2013, five World Championship medals, numerous World Cup titles and regional event wins. But to be honest, the highlight for me will always be the Rio Olympics in 2016. We sailed a near perfect event in terms of our performance, but with two disqualifications for matters that seemed outside of our control, half way through the event we were in no place to even come close to the medals and were written off as a medal chance. We fought back from there, so to win the Silver medal after such a tough week was definitely the highlight of my sailing career thus far.

CM: What is your passion and where do you hope it will take you in 2018 and beyond?
My passion is for learning new things, growing my skills and knowledge, for challenging myself and achieving the goals I set for myself. This takes me in a new direction for 2018 as I am not currently sailing but have instead taken a job at Ernst & Young (EY), working in consulting, where it seems there are endless opportunities to learn and grow, as well as to finally have some work/life balance that just doesn’t exist in the life of an Olympic athlete.

CM: What do you think will be important trends in 2018 and beyond and how will they impact on you?
Working for EY, I am now much more aware of new trends; in technology, in business, in the way we approach life in general. I would hope that many of these new advancements mean that we actually get more time to enjoy life, realising the importance of slow time as well as this constant fast-paced multitasking and addiction to our phones and devices. Maybe it’s just part of growing up, but noticing what is important in life – family, friends, adventures, to never stop learning, and not letting the relentless pace of life get in the way of this.

CM: Valentine’s Day is this month.  Will you celebrate this and if so, how?
To be honest I have never really celebrated Valentine’s day - too busy sailing/training/doing whatever it is I used to do, but maybe I can start this year! My boyfriend PJ (also an ex-Olympic sailor) is from the Netherlands and is currently working in Spain, but he’d better at least organise me a bunch of flowers! (Hint!).

CM: What would be your dream North Shore day out and who would you share it with?
: I have my dream North Shore day out nearly every weekend: Meet a friend at a café for a coffee catch up or brunch. If it’s windy – head out for a kiteboard session, if there is no wind – paddle over to Rangitoto and run up to the top for the best view in town, then finish the day off with a dinner in Takapuna and a twilight walk along the beach. The best thing about the Shore… I can fit adventure, people, scenery and good food all in the same day.

CM: Being a millennial means….
To me, being a millennial means we grew up in a real time of change. I remember mobile phones starting to appear, computers going from a large square box that didn’t really do anything useful to what they are now – in our pockets. It’s about being adaptive, open to new things and new ideas, as well as keeping some perspective from knowing both sides of the technological revolution.

CM: What’s the best and worst thing about being a millennial?
Best thing: Being comfortable with change and fluidity and always searching for new possibilities; being open and unafraid to take on new opportunities. Having all that information available at our fingertips, the ability to dream beyond what our parents could.
Worst thing: Social media and the change from real relationships and conversations to their online equivalents. Yes, social media has its positive sides, but I can’t help but think it also dilutes our real connections in life. It’s just not real… and yet we are kidded into thinking it is.