Some say she’s the life of the party, and that her mouth works faster than her brain can censor it. All we know is she’s called Kezza.
Meet Kerry Hunter, business development manager at Driveline. She started work at a very young age, went flatting at 16 as an independent teenager, bought her own horse at 19, had a son at age 25 and raised him mostly as a single parent, and eventually discovered the auto industry, which she fell in love with and has remained in ever since.
Kerry’s journey has been through many twists and turns, but it’s her work ethic and strong moral compass that has seen her end up in a good place. Follow along as we trace the journey.
The horse dream
Kerry Hunter has had a love for horses ever since she was five, and would pore through any horse book she could get her hands on.
Her parents didn’t understand the depth of her passion because they didn’t like horses and thought Kerry was just going through a phase. But at age 9 she was still telling her mother she wanted a pony. Her parents did nothing to foster her ambition, still hating horses and thinking she was ‘just going through a phase’.
When Kerry got to her teenage years and the nagging hadn’t let up, her mother told her that one day when she was earning her own money she could buy a horse.
So that’s just what Kerry did. She started working part-time while still at school, joined the workforce full-time as soon as she got School Cert, went flatting at 16, and at 19 bought a horse. Her parents couldn’t believe it!
“My biggest, biggest, biggest passion and biggest hobby is horse riding. My husband is a big surfer so a lot of the time I’m off horse riding and he’s off surfing, so it works out quite well.”
Rather than competing, Kerry loves caring for ex-race horses that are ready to retire and rehabilitating them. She says they require a lot of schooling and getting their head space out of the racing mode. Which, of course, ties in perfectly to her love of western riding.
Most girls who join a pony club go down the dressage and show jumping route, but Kerry was more of a cowgirl into Western riding.
“It’s less about competition and more about riding with old-school western saddles, hunting, hacking and that sort of stuff. But if it is competition it’s something like barrel racing where you race between barrels and you have a certain amount of time to get back and it might all be over in six seconds.”
Riding for the disabled
Kerry helps out a horse trekking business in Warkworth that runs a riding for the disabled program.
“They started their business at Warkworth for riding for the disabled, about 40 or 50 years ago. I was very lucky to have worked with these kids and my God, it was the most amazing thing ever. Just to see them connect with it, conquer their fears and not feel judged. It’s very rewarding.”
Is there room for anything other than horses?
“Absolutely,” says Kerry. “My husband says I don’t [laughs], but I definitely have to find that balance otherwise he’ll divorce me!”
Kerry and her husband are into healthy eating and lots of exercise. Kerry works out at the gym four days a week, and twice a week during her lunch hour she does CrossFit at a gym just down the road from Driveline. She finds the physicality a good antidote to a demanding job that taxes the brain so much.
Kerry and her husband challenge themselves by setting goals, lots of goals, including running goals. Her husband is currently training to do his first marathon, and Kerry is thinking about doing the Auckland Half Marathon in October.
Kerry’s husband has travelled 65 countries and they have multiple trips planned for the future. Egypt and Greece are both on the bucket list.
Probably the biggest challenge in Kerry’s life has been raising her son, Cohen. He was born 13 weeks premature when Kerry was just 24 years old. Cohen had dislocated hips, which wasn’t picked up until he was eight months old, so he was put into a body cast. To top it off, Cohen is dyslexic, so schooling was a real challenge.
“Yeah, it was a very, very tough tough stage of my life.”
But Kerry invested a lot of time and resources into providing the best support for him, and he’s now a thriving young man doing an electrical apprenticeship.
Enough about her personal life, what about Kerry’s work history?
The early working years
Kerry proved her strong work ethic at an early age by working at a Ten Pin bowling centre when she was still at school. She also had a part-time job as a checkout operator at the local supermarket while still a schoolgirl.
Academic life wasn’t for her, though, and as soon as she had School Certificate she left school and started full-time work. Kerry says she did better in the real world than she did at school.
Early jobs included working for Tech Pacific, Sega Aussiesoft and Aupalco in admin and accounts roles.
A pivotal role
Kerry’s next move was into the automotive world, 28 years ago, and she’s been there ever since. That first job at Countrywide Rentals led to a job with Hertz Fleetlease, ironically the same place Driveline founder Lance Manins got his start in vehicle leasing.
As a registrations clerk at Hertz Fleetlease, Kerry’s job involved registering hundreds of cars a month. After three years she had to give the job up to care for her newborn son, which was her full-time job for the following three years.
Next came a job with Fleet Partners, which turned into a 9-year stint. Kerry says she was very lucky to have an amazing MD who recognised her drive and hard graft and invested a lot into her, sending her on courses and training and mentoring. [He obviously had a good eye for talent. -Ed]
“It’s where where I learned absolutely everything I know about the automotive industry finance and leasing.”
All good things gotta come to an end, though. With a change of management in Australia came the decision to restructure, and Kerry’s role was one of the many to become redundant. The payout was very attractive so Kerry opted for redundancy over a new contract.
Kerry then moved into the dealer space for several years. The experience working at Ford, Mazda and Toyota dealerships was… interesting, challenging and a character-building experience.
Vehicle leasing again
The general manager at Maxxia approached Kerry and she worked with him for 5-6 years until he retired. She describes him as “awesome” and being big on culture and enjoying the work and respecting the people you work with.
After his retirement, her good friend Paul Scotting, who works at Driveline, told her there was a role coming up at Driveline and she should put her hand up. Daniel Barr was leaving and Driveline was looking for a replacement, so Kerry phoned Lance and the rest is history.
Ironically, if you read our recent Behind the Veil with Daniel Barr you’ll know that he quickly realised he’d made a mistake and is now back at Driveline.
“He’s like a male version of me and I’m like a female version of him. We’re like peas in a pod; it’s absolutely hilarious. We’re both so similar and driven and have so much going on. We’re like octopuses!
“I absolutely love it here. I love the culture. The guys are amazing; they’re just so easy to get on with, and it stems from the top at the end of the day, no matter where you go. Paul Tobin and Lance are amazing. I can walk into their office at any time of the day, don’t even have to knock, just walk in and need help and they will drop everything to help you.
“The businesses is just racing ahead full steam. The growth of Driveline is great and the awareness of the company, too. Coming from a company that didn’t have much marketing or awareness you really notice the difference. Instead of having to cold call all the time, Driveline have so many enquiries coming in from existing clients and referrals you don’t have to go cold calling 24/7. You don’t have that here; they market their business so well.
“When you hear the staff here talking to customers and talking to each other, they love their job. I can hear it and I can see it and I think, Wow, this is where I want to be until I retire. I just want to stay in a really nice environment where you go to work every day and you enjoy who you work with.
“I saw that the day I went in to meet the team. I thought, This vibe is awesome. I’m a real extroverted person and I like to have a laugh, I like to have a joke, I like a bit of banter. And I was like, Wow, this is an awesome vibe, it’s just what I want.”
Kerry Hunter’s journey from a young age to her current position as a business development manager at Driveline is a testament to her work ethic, resilience, and passion.
Despite facing numerous challenges along the way, Kerry’s determination and strong moral compass have guided her to a fulfilling and successful career in the automotive leasing and finance industry.
Despite setbacks and challenges, including redundancy and some less-than-ideal work environments, Kerry’s perseverance led her to Driveline.
Joining the company, she found a supportive and vibrant culture that aligned with her values and aspirations. The team’s passion for their work, the company’s growth, and its effective marketing strategies all contributed to Kerry’s enthusiasm and dedication to her role.
Looking ahead, Kerry envisions herself staying at Driveline until retirement, cherishing the positive work environment and the camaraderie she shares with her colleagues.
Kerry Hunter’s story exemplifies the rewards that come from hard work, staying true to one’s passions, persevering through challenges, and seeking a work environment that aligns with personal values.
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