Member Q&A - Dave Lafontant


Each month we talk to a PSA Youth member and find out about their work and passions.

If you want to be involved in this feature let us know at psay@psa.org.nz

Dave LafontantThis month we talk to Dave Lafontant - Customer Service Rep in the Hamilton Contact Centre for Work and Income.

What were you initial thoughts on signing up to do this Q&A?

Eeek gat, what have a gotten myself into =)

What is your job and what do you do on an average day at work?

I’m a Customer Service Rep in the Hamilton Contact Centre for Work and Income. I take calls and work with people right across New Zealand, from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

My job is that of a problem solver, or a lateral thinker as it involves helping people who have hit hard times navigate through the myriad of services that MSD provides.

My goal is to help overcome whatever barriers they have and achieve their goals, and I do this with my life skill derived from 17 years of overseas travel and the knowledge of the different services we offer, and if there is no immediate or timely solution I will discuss other avenues possibly available to them.

What was a highlight at work for you in the past month?

Working with my fellow New Zealanders on a daily basis, to achieve their goals - and the thanks I get from them for going the extra mile.

What would you say is the hardest thing about your job?

Dealing with angry or frustrated people, who take out their frustrations on me directly when it’s the first time I’ve spoken with them.

What brought you to join the PSA and the PSA Youth network?

When I started working at MSD I had an induction with a PSA delegate who came down and spoke about the union. I had worked in the past for a few employers in the private sector who were not the best so thought "what a great way to help secure my employment rights by joining a team of people who are there to support me if needed."

I then saw an invitation to the PSA Youth Conference in November 2013. I applied to attend and was accepted, and found it great connecting with people in different public sectors and made a few friends over the two days. I’m still making connections with other PSAY members to this day.

Name one (or more) things you like about the PSA Youth network:

Meeting and speaking with people throughout the public sector, listening to what they are going through and the challenges imposed on them of doing more with less. It’s good to relate with other people, and reinforces that I’m not alone and we are in this together.

The network also enables me to get involved with the union on the ground floor, report back to my fellow PSAY members about upcoming issues to be mindful of or about getting people involved with upcoming campaigns as I’m very passionate about worker’s rights.

What is your vision for youth in the PSA?

Limitless. I see PSA Youth in the future as a strong network in the PSA that enables young workers to bring their overall concerns to light, and seek support from people who may have already been through tough issues and have valuable knowledge to share. As young workers are the future, and will be the members of PSA that carry the torch, I feel it’s important that as young people we step up and be vigilant about our future, and the direction we are going.  If we get off to a good start in our working lives then the journey is a lot less stressful.

How about when you aren't at work?  What else do you like to do with your time?

In my spare time, when not playing PS3, I attempt to play the guitar with my muso friends and compose some of my own music for fun. I’m an avid arm chair military historian, reading books that cover the strategic views of previous wars to details about the intricate working of machines used in them. More recently reading personal accountants of the brave men and women during historic and modern conflicts as this brings inspiration from their personal struggle to overcome challenges that people in ordinary life would deem as insurmountable.

What are your three favourite foods?

Pizza, Pancakes, and Mille Fleur.

What are your three loves?

The love of my life Christina, who is a NZNO organiser in Christchurch, so we are doing the long distance relationship thing.

My Mother for without her, her love, and never ending support, life would be that much harder.

History. Whether modern or classic, as we will never move forward without learning from our mistakes

What are your three pet peeves?

Talking on the phone during my private time, unless its important I’ll take a pass as I work on the phones daily.

I talk with my hands when I get excited.

Filthy dirty smokers, which I am one of.

What advice would you give your 18 year old self?

Keep studying, one degree is not enough for the future. Party harder cause when you get older it will be harder to boogey on down.

Anything else you would like to add?

As is an election year, please don’t forget to exercise your democratic right and vote.

Ask your friends Are they going to vote? Can you go with them? Why not go in groups?  Maybe even organise a voting day party to celebrate that we live in a great democracy and as its citizens the strongest voice we have is our vote.