Opportunity and Connection: the key to success for Dilworth Old Boy, James Petherick

Date: 28 May 2024

James Petherick, Class of 2014, left Dilworth 9 years ago and has already created a career and personal success that can be well celebrated. Making the most of every opportunity seems to have been his formula along the way.

As Head Prefect of his year and finishing school with good grades (Level 1 NCEA Merit, Level 2 NCEA Excellence and Level 3 NCEA Merit), James successfully applied for various tertiary scholarships, one of which set him on a pathway to the life he is leading 9 years later.


But the story starts back in Year 13 when he was offered a short - 2-week - work experience internship at the Dilworth Trust Board during the school holiday. He knew then that the property industry was where his passion lay, so later on in Year 13 when the then GM of Property, Ian Redshaw, told him about the Keystone Trust scholarship*, he applied and got it. This scholarship, alongside several others offered by Dilworth (e.g. Leavers Support Grants), and Auckland University, meant he did not have a large student loan debt to contend with once he finished his studies. James, says “Being debt-free was hugely advantageous as it meant that I didn’t have to worry about finances and was able to properly focus on University and get the most out of it. It also greatly helped to achieve my financial goals early on”.

Not being encumbered by student loans, he immediately started using his hard-earned money to invest in property. At 27, James owns 2 properties and has set himself up for future opportunities but he has worked hard and has sacrificed some things to achieve his goals.

Studying a 4-year con-joint degree in Property and Commerce, he worked part-time through the connections he had with people he'd met during his studies. At Uni he decided to give the Property Case Competition a crack. His team won, and that meant he went to the University of Sydney competition where they came 3rd, qualifying them for the Cornell Competition in New York City. In 2018 he was automatically chosen for the team to compete in Sydney, where they came 2nd and again qualified for the NYC Cornell competition. James reflects now on how cool it was to win the chance during Uni to travel overseas and meet so many like-minded people in the field he was studying in. 

It was during these experiences that he met the people at Blackstone. At another chance meeting, he got invited at the last minute to attend a Keystone rugby luncheon at the Hilton. Quickly borrowing a suit from a mate in the Uni halls, he ended up by chance sitting next to the CEO of Kiwi Property and was offered a 2-week work experience, which then turned into an overall tenure of 6 years and 3 months involving an amazing part-time Uni job, followed by a full-time role in Property upon graduation. He admits he started at the bottom at Kiwi, but he has a huge amount of gratitude to Kiwi Property. He learnt a lot and working his way up to become a Leasing Analyst, a role Kiwi created especially for him and later was promoted to Leasing Executive. He thinks their team are awesome and still keeps ion contact with many of his former colleagues.

He has continued to make the most of the different opportunities that either he has made happen or that have presented themselves to him. “Never turn down a chance to have a coffee with someone,” he tells me. “I’m open to connections as I feel they can always positively impact you”. Not surprisingly, when asked what are the 2-3 words, he feels sums up his time at Dilworth, he says Opportunity and Connection. “I wouldn’t be in the place I am today without the gift of opportunity Dilworth gave me, with all the sports, wellbeing and mental support, and career counselling at school, but also all the support after leaving too.” He knows mates from other schools, who don’t have the same strong connection or bond that Dilworth Old Boys have. The deep friendships built up by 24/7 living, playing, learning, creating, eating, laughing, and achieving together are for a lifetime. 

His passion for the school and the people involved rings true. James worked for Dilworth as a House Assistant, and then as a House Manager for 7 years after Ally Patterson (the then Head of Boarding) asked him in late 2016 to come and work at Dilworth at the beginning of 2017. And it is not surprising that when asked who at Dilworth was a stand-out teacher or role model for James, he names Ally. As a student, James respected Ally but when he later got to know him on a different level, he really understood Ally’s motivations, and saw him as an incredible person, always giving back, being selfless and brilliant in the way he interacted with people. James sees him as a role model, as a teacher, and as a man. He hopes he can be even a little bit like Ally in the future.

It’s hard to encompass in a few words all that James Petherick has done in his short life, but suffice it to say, he is going places. Right now, he is living and working in Melbourne in a new role at Vicinity as a Leasing Executive. That opportunity came about again, through not only his hard work but also his networking at previous jobs. In property, there is a saying, location, location, location. With James, it is more like connections, connections, connections.

And where does he get his drive and aspirations from I ask? He reflects briefly and says he thinks it came from being given so many opportunities at Dilworth, where he learned to just be open to everything, go with the flow, and do all the things on offer and see how it turns out. He learned to trust his instinct and knows what feels right. 

He’s left the country with a firm grip on what he wants to achieve but he says. “I’ll stay in touch with people in NZ, and I have connections in Australia with some Old Boys who are there too”. I’m sure we will hear more about James Petherick in the future, and I for one am looking forward to remaining connected to this young Old Boy to see where his amazing journey of opportunity and connection will take him.