Dan and Mel live in Māngere Bridge, Auckland, with their two sons, Jimmy and Toby. Dan is a Senior Lender at Christian Savings and has a background in Commercial Law. For this edition on work, Olivia sat down for a conversation with Dan to hear about his work, family life, and faith, and to understand how each of these feed one another.
Tell us about your work journey to this point. You graduated with a degree in Law and Economics, and now work at Christian Savings. How did you get here?
Yes, I graduated from Victoria University, Wellington, in 2012 with my bachelor’s, but I’ve never been particularly passionate about Law or Economics. And that tension continues today. While I really love my job, I don’t feel “called” to the legal profession.
After university, I worked for one year at Z Energy, starting with legal experience but then moving into business strategy and forecasting. Melissa and I got married in 2014, and we moved to Tauranga, where I worked as a commercial lawyer for three years. I realised pretty early on that Commercial Law is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. While I really enjoyed helping people and the thrill of working through transactions, I wanted to move past covering clients’ butts. I wanted to work at a higher level of business and transactions. I knew that just being a lawyer would soon tire me out because it didn’t meld well with my strengths or what I enjoy doing.
After three years of work—myself in Commercial Law and Melissa in Human Resources—we went travelling overseas for six months. We finished our travels in Auckland so that Melissa could study theology at Carey College. Meanwhile, I needed a job. I was changing direction from Commercial Law to Litigation and applied to over 40 law firms, which resulted in tonnes of rejections. I only found my current job by being in a bar at the same time my father-in-law was meeting with the CEO and Chairman of Christian Savings. It was totally out of the blue. We were just in Auckland for a short-term stint for Mel to finish her study, and I didn’t want to take the job because it was going back into Commercial Law. But I took a punt, thinking it would only be for a year. Early on, I was exposed to a lot more of the work of Christian Savings and was able to move into the lending role. I’ve been at Christian Savings now for four years.
And what is Christian Savings?
Christian Savings finances churches and Christian charities around New Zealand. We take term deposits from the public in a standard commercial engagement. It’s a win–win for Christians because they get a return for their money, often at a higher rate than the banks, and their money is being used to give loans to churches and charities. With that money, churches and charities can finance a new build, extend their buildings, or create a new business, like a Christian day-care centre or school. Christian Savings is a very unique organisation. As far as we know, we think it’s the world’s only not-for-profit, multi-denominational finance company. We’re owned by multiple denominations and philanthropic trusts, and we’re a not-for-profit financier. It’s a really special ecumenical partnership.