Welcome to My Net Worth, our regular column on the lives and motivations of our country’s top business, legal and political people in their own words. 

Cassie Roma is a digital marketer, social media expert and consultant, and public speaker. US-born, she graduated from the University of California, majoring in history, with minors in Spanish language and literature and communications. She moved to New Zealand 19 years ago and forged a successful career in marketing and advertising working for companies including Air New Zealand, NZME, and ANZ Bank. In March, she founded her own consultancy business, CR&Co. This year also, she appeared weekly on TVNZ 1 as an adviser to Mike Pero on The Apprentice Aotearoa.

I spent most of my childhood between Southern California and a tiny town of 200 people in Missouri, so I had a city mouse/country mouse upbringing. 

My mum was originally from Missouri and my dad was originally from California. Dad was a lawyer and a professional baseball player and mum was the dean of the law school where he studied. I don't think that was frowned upon then – but what a story!

I spent a lot of my childhood in and around sports because of my dad. For my brother and me, a lot of our childhood revolved around being a very American baseball and basketball family. 

The other part was being around the legal world. I thought all children grew up with supreme court justices and high court judges around them. So it was an up-in-the-clouds lifestyle in one sense but wildly down to earth in another.

I never really excelled at or wanted to go towards anything legal or super professional. I always wanted to be a little bit creative. So the fact I ended up in this corporate life, climbing the ladder for nearly 20 years, is kind of funny. 

After studying at the University of California in Santa Barbara, I ended up falling in love with a Kiwi tour guide, Tex, on my Contiki tour. We moved to New Zealand after a two-week vacation and just decided to stay forever. 

We split up, and I’ve remarried. Tex and I have a 15-year-old daughter, whom we raise with his partner, Carla, and my wife, Carly. We’re living a very, very modern life here in New Zealand.

I’ve been on the North Shore of Auckland for nearly 20 years now, and it has changed a lot. The culture shock of being an expat never truly wears off. But you learn to navigate it and to translate quicker and quicker. 

Cassie (right) with her brother Rob, grandpa Maurice and grandma Roma. 


Folks starting out ask what my career strategy was, but, to be honest, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I accidentally fell into marketing and advertising. I wanted to do something that involved a lot of creativity, and marketing and advertising seemed to allow that.

Then Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook came along. I got really curious about those platforms and how community building could add to brand resonance and to the bottom line for brands. So I spent the past 20 years becoming a translator to businesses.

The biggest misperception about my line of work is that it’s some sort of colouring-in department. That you send some creatives off into a corner and they’re going to make things look pretty but they won’t help the business. In reality, every touchpoint in a business is marketing and advertising – every story a brand sells and every interaction a customer has.

I've done some work with the rainbow communities and young people in New Zealand, mentoring young, queer folks through their own professional and personal goals. I've been able to give back, and that is my proudest achievement. 

I was chair of the Auckland Pride board for a year and a half. At the last big Pride Parade and Festival, Jacinda Ardern marched the entire parade pregnant, and it was a transformative event in my life.

My friends would describe me as recklessly curious. They would probably say that I'm comfortable in chaos and calm in a storm. They’d say I’m a good listener, and that I’m a crier. I cry at everything.

The best thing we can do in our career is be ourselves. Sometimes, we are our own worst critics. Often, I dressed like I thought an executive should dress. I straightened my hair. I eventually realised I could wear my double denim and my Doc Martens. I could have curly hair. I could be an out, gay woman. I realised that helps everyone around me feel comfortable being themselves, too.

I've come to a point in my life where I believe work-life balance is a misnomer, and a story sold to us by a generation that worked too much. So I live a completely integrated life. The work that I do and who I am away from my work are intrinsically linked. 

Work-life balance becomes easier as I age, because I won't do work that doesn't feed a higher purpose or a collective good for my creative soul.

I've got really strong boundaries. I got in trouble at one of my jobs because I put an automatic responder on that said, “I will answer my emails twice a day: at nine in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. If you need me urgently, then give me a phone call.” Once you tell people your boundaries, 99% of people say, “‘Sweet as.”

I miss the US very much. I splurged on was a trip back home for Christmas. I was lucky enough to also be home on the fourth of July (Independence Day) this year. I had three weeks, and turned 40 in a dive bar in New York City with my best friend.

The most valuable thing I own is a $2 locket I got when I was 10 years old. I have it in my hand right now, and it has a picture of my grandmother in it. I wear it all the time, and every time I travel overseas, or any time I feel I need love, I open it up and see her little face. She was my hero. As long as I've got this locket with me, everything else is just gravy.

As told to Daniel Dunkley
This interview has been edited for clarity.