Karen Ross recently returned to Northland after just over 22 years living overseas and in the Waikato and Auckland.
The 41-year-old, originally from Whangarei, is an expert coach, trainer and speaker.
Through her business Start with You she offers professional coaching and seminars so people can take charge of their headspace, stress levels and ability to perform at their best.
"Basically helping people to use their brain on purpose, to be happy at work and in life."
Ms Ross is running a seminar in Whangarei this month offering practical tools to achieve this.
She left Whangarei to go to university at the age of 18 enrolling in a four-year business management degree at The University of Waikato majoring in Human Resources with First Class Honours.
After graduating she worked for Lion Breweries in Hamilton for a few years then headed overseas.
On her way to the UK she went to Slovakia (Slovak Republic) to visit her aunt and uncle who were living there at the time.
While there she decided to try her luck at finding a job and landed a six-month contract with KPMG which needed someone to implement an HR performance management process. The six months turned into two years living in the capital Bratislava.
She ended up providing management training and performance management consulting to 13 offices in central Eastern Europe, "an amazing experience - challenging, diverse and very enjoyable most of the time", she said.
"So that was how I fell into 'business/corporate training' and the world of professional services."
Next stop - Brussels, Belgium for six months working for the KPMG European Training Centre and then the UK for two years for a private consultancy. In June 2005 she went out on her own as a freelance consultant.
Ms Ross returned to NZ in 2006 feeling quite unsatisfied with the limitations of corporate training and wanting to do more.
She heard about Neuro Linguistic Programming and how useful it was for personal development, eventually enrolling for a course and was able to make big changes for herself (including less stress, emotional responses, more confidence). She went on to complete another level of training in 2007.
This was when she realised what she really wanted to do was help people be their most brilliant self, establishing a private coaching practice in 2007.
She has been in business for 12 years, working with people to develop personally and professionally, helping them to perform at their best providing one-to-one coaching, in-house training and conference speaking.
Ms Ross said that in terms of managing stress and/or finding satisfaction in life, finding a job you love - or as much as is possible - is best.
"I believe that if you are happy at work and enjoy what you do, you will be healthier and happier overall - which is better for you of course, but it's also of great benefit to your family.
"Yes we need to pay the bills, but our emotional and physical health is wealth too."
She said that if you do have to stay in a job and it's not good, there will be many factors you can't control - your boss, the environment, fixed hours, etc, but there is one thing you have total control over - yourself.
"This is the most important lesson I've learned and the trick is to then put it into action - actually taking charge of your thoughts, emotions, choices - it took me quite a while to find out how to do this, and that's what I now teach."
She said the number one thing that can help immediately is to turn down your stress response.
"As soon as you notice your body flicking into its stress state, pause and dial it back - I teach you how to do this in the seminar."
Additionally it can help find ways to get personal satisfaction at work, such as taking on a new responsibility, doing your job to the highest standard possible, or mentoring/supporting younger team members - whatever is meaningful to you, or find pursuits outside of work that fill up your tank, make you feel good and satisfied.
Ms Ross said her seminars answer the question - how do I take charge? How can I turn down my stress response? How can I feel calmer even when the circumstances are not changing?
Her seminar is at The Orchard Business Hub in Whangarei on August 29.