Employee of the Month: Niall Sutherland of YourWave

Niall Sutherland is the Commercial Manager at rapid wave technology YourWave. Niall traveled to NZ from his native Scotland in 2014, intending to stay for one ski season before continuing his travels around the world. But he never left New Zealand’s Wanaka, an area renowned for its outdoor vibrance. Niall immediately found work in the adventure industry for retail and distributors.The crew at YourWave said Niall was a natural fit in Kiwi Country having grown up skiing, mountain biking, and dirt biking. Niall got his first taste of surfing at a local river wave in Wanaka and is now continuing his progression at YourWave HQ where he does everything from cleaning to social media to business plans and sales pitches.

“He’s a quiet, unassuming guy and has done a brilliant job for us since starting as the first employee in early 2023,” said Will Sellar of YourWave.  “Niall’s moved the business from pre-launch to operating successfully in the local region, as well as starting to get us on the map for international sales.” 

WavePoolMag spoke with Niall to learn how he organically grew into his role at the New Zealand wave technology company.

At a startup company employees always wear a few different hats. Niall wears a few, from writing business plans and sales pitches to showing kids how to surf.

How long have you been with YourWave, and how did that come about?

I’ve just gone past my anniversary, so it’s been one year. And that came about because my partner and [YourWave founder] Ross [McCarthy’s] partner grew up together, so that’s how I heard about the job, and I applied. It looked like the kind of challenge that I wanted, and it’s been exactly that.

What is the best part about your job?

I was actually talking about this today. The best part of my job is that everybody you interact with is stoked. You don’t have anyone who is disgruntled; everyone’s having a good time. It’s really easy to summon energy when you need energy because everybody’s having a great time.

What is the worst part about your job?

The trickiest part is being part of a start-up company and having to turn your hand to a little bit of everything, and, you know, lots of unexpected things turn up, but that’s also part of the joy for me, to be honest.

YourWave has gathered a lot of attention in the New Zealand media and beyond.

Share with us something most people don’t know about your job position?

That’s a good question. I think what people find most surprising is, again, it goes back to that start-up company thing, is how many different responsibilities and how many different styles of working day we can have. I came into work this morning expecting one hour of wave sessions and seven hours on my computer, and I got about three hours on my computer and the rest running sessions and keeping busy with other bits and pieces. My role is Commercial Manager, and most people assume I sit at a desk 9 til 5, five days a week. I’m sure that will be the picture at some point, but we’re not there yet!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully further along with the pathway with YourWave, with multiple machines in the ground and representation in many different territories. I’d like to think we’d be one of the coolest and best companies within the industry and also within our local area – the company that everyone wants to work for. I’m hoping that deals and the conversations we’re having at the moment come to fruition. The big opportunities are across North America, and that looks like our most likely opportunities but also great to see good opportunities coming through in New Zealand as well as Europe and the Middle East.

Endless Surf 2023A