the New Zealand

Women's Leadership Symposium

previous speakers


Managing Partner, Chen Palmer

Mai is a thought leader, a direction setter and a futures thinker. She is one of NZ’s top constitutional and administrative law experts, specialising in central and local Government policy and legislation, especially as it applies to business, and litigating major public law cases. Mai is the inaugural Chair of NZ Global Women, including NZ’s top 200 women leaders, and founded and is the inaugural Chair of NZ Asian Leaders connecting top Asian NZ CEOs and emerging leaders with New Zealand companies doing business in Asia to enhance their success to help NZ Inc.


CEO Working Mothers Connect

Natasha was born and raised in Auckland. She has a Bachelor of Business and over 20 years’ experience working in Marketing and Advertising. Prior to relocating to Melbourne 14 years ago, Natasha founded and ran an advertising agency in Auckland. As the CEO of Working Mothers Connect, Australia’s leading online community for working mothers, the opportunity to work with WLA in Australia and New Zealand was a natural fit for Natasha, as it provides the opportunity to highlight their premier female leadership programs, as well as bring together the countries best and brightest at the yearly Women and Leadership Symposiums.


Chief Commercial Officer, NZME

Laura joined The Radio Network as a Commercial Director in July 2013, moving to the role of Group Director Digital Media in 2014. In 2015, Laura was promoted to Group Revenue Director and this title transitioned to Chief Commercial Officer as part of NZME's transformation. Laura has over 20 years of experience in media and is well known and respected in the industry, having held roles including sales director for both APN Outdoor and Buspak New Zealand. She is also currently serving as a Chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a Director of the Newspapers Publishers Association and a board member of the Radio Bureau.


Equal Opportunities Commissioner, Human Rights Commission

Jackie is a Human Rights Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and has the Equal Employment Opportunities and Women’s Rights portfolio. Jackie has a strong commitment to advancing the participation of women in society and is the Commission's lead on stopping violence against women. In the Equal Employment Opportunities portfolio, Jackie is committed to progressing human rights and issues of equity, particularly those that affect equal employment opportunities.  She has identified youth unemployment and underachievement in Māori and Pacific communities as particular areas of concern.  Jackie is also working closely on fair pay for carers and pay equity.


General Manager Corporate Relations, Spark New Zealand

Andrew Pirie is General Manager Corporate Relations at New Zealand’s leading digital services company, Spark New Zealand. Reporting to the Managing Director, Andrew oversees internal and external communications, social media engagement, government, industry and community relations as well as the charitable activities of the Spark Foundation. Andrew joined Spark in October 2012 and has guided the company’s reputation through a period of immense technological and industry change, including the name change from Telecom to Spark in August 2014.


Commander Joint Operational Health Command, New Zealand Defence Force

Corina joined the RNZN as as software engineer where she worked primarily on weapons systems. Later transferring to Weapons Engineering she held roles in fleet repair, training, HR, as well as ICT management and procurement programmes for Navy and Defence. She had the honour of commanding HMNZS Philomel, the Devonport Naval Base and currently commands the Joint Operational Health Group proving health support services across the NZDF and to our deployed service personnel.


Head of Talent, Auckland Transport

Simone is a a senior HR leader with expertise in designing people strategies that are fit for business, increase staff engagement and lead to a sustainable future workforce and business. She has held senior leadership roles at ANZ New Zealand, and her current role is as Head of Talent at Auckland Transport. She has led Organisational Development, Business Management, HR Consulting, Recruitment, Learning and Diversity and Inclusion portfolios over the last 10 years. As a mum of three small children, Simone is passionate about supporting women at work through development, parental leave support as well as enabling flexible working for all.


Chief Executive Officer, Competenz

Fiona Kingsford joined Competenz in 2008. Her career with Competenz has included positions such as General Manager of Organisational Development, General Manager Trade Training, and General Manager Strategy and Transformation before being appointed to CEO in January 2016. Fiona has an Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Business Studies, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Auckland.


Creative Leader & CEO, Burger Burger Ltd

Hospitality runs in Mimi Gilmour’s blood. The daughter of Emerald Gilmour, Mimi was raised on the restaurant scene, but after years managing some of Auckland’s top eateries she took the plunge by opening her first co-owned restaurant, Mexico. Mimi knows her area of expertise, and says the best advice anyone has given her is that she’s the ‘start-up girl’ - so after five successful years expanding the Mexico brand and offering, she sold to open Burger Burger just five weeks later. A few years on, and a few restaurants later, Mimi opened Fish Fish in Ponsonby Central.


Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand

In December 2016 Paula was appointed as Deputy Leader of the National Party and is the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand. She is also the Minister for Climate Change Issues, Minister of Police, Minister of State Services, Minister of Tourism, and Minister for Women.


Founder, Motivate Me NZ

Makaia Carr is the mother, and powerhouse business woman, behind Motivate Me NZ (MMNZ). After years of attempting a healthy lifestyle, while juggling motherhood, marriage and a busy household - Makaia decided to proactively focus on her health and adopted a clean eating approach in 2012. In three months, Makaia lost more than 10kg by adjusting her daily diet and exercising regularly. Through her blog and business, Makaia has been encouraging women around the country to become the best version of themselves, with her message that through hard work they can achieve their happiest and healthiest lifestyle.


Television and Radio Journalist, Broadcaster,Host, Early Edition, NewstalkZB

TV and radio broadcaster and one of New Zealand’s most experienced journalists. She has reported from Europe, Africa, America, Iraq and Afghanistan and is the current host of Early Edition on NewstalkZB


Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Aurecon

Aurecon provides advisory, design, delivery and asset management services on projects across a range of markets, in locations worldwide.  These services include digital and infrastructure advisory, building design, ground engineering design and infrastructure design as well as programme and project management delivery.  Aurecon brings ideas to life to design a better future. Abbie Wright, Aurecon's Diversity and Inclusion Manager, is a long standing employee and valued advisor on diversity and inclusion matters. With a background in human capital, cultural change and leadership development, Abbie's approach to diversity and inclusion is to "bring others on the journey" by influencing a work environment where everyone can feel safe and accepted regardless of difference.  


Head of Diversity and Inclusion, BNZ

Growing up in Auckland New Zealand, Lana West describes herself as part-islander – part-mainlander acknowledging her father from Samoa and her mother who hails from Dunedin. As number 10 of 11 children, life has always been about family, respect and ensuring you live in a way that shows courage and strength but above all else humility. With both parents in the medical field, Lana thoughts she too would head that way, but her career and study moved towards banking and eventually human resources. Through her career she has worked in New Zealand, Australia, and Samoa in banking and private health insurance.


Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Vodafone New Zealand

Kirstin Te Wao is Vodafone New Zealand’s Diversity & Inclusion Lead, appointed to the inaugural role in May 2014. Kirstin is responsible for the development and execution of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, and programmes that focus on Vodafone’s diversity priorities. Kirstin led the execution of Vodafone New Zealand’s recently announced return to work programme, ReConnect, an evolution of Vodafone’s maternity policy launched in March 2015. Kirstin played a key role in the establishment of Vodafone’s eight employee networks that cover gender, ethnicity and the Rainbow community which are self-sufficient and sustainable entities within the Vodafone business. Before her first year in the inaugural role was complete, Kirstin led the transformation of the company’s Technology focused Graduate programme to a cross-functional, organisation-wide experience for their annual Graduate intake. 



Group Director - Culture and Performance, NZME

Before being appointed Group Director of Culture and Performance at NZME Michelle was responsible for the HR function at the Radio Network for over two years. Her expertise and experience has seen NZME develop an exciting and diverse culture to allow everyone to perform at their best. Prior to her work in Radio she was the HR and Employee Brand Manager at Event Cinemas, joining when they were SKYCITY Cinemas.  She established their HR systems and functions as it was a green fields HR site at that time and she managed the acquisition component of the chain by AHL and then the subsequent launch of the EVENT Cinemas’ brand into New Zealand, including the employee brand. Prior to that Michelle had eight years at SKYCITY in various senior HR management, project and leadership roles.  



GM Enterprise Solutions and NZ, MYOB

Carolyn Luey joined MYOB in January 2017 and has executive responsibility for MYOB's New Zealand operations and the Enterprise Solutions business trans tasman.  Prior to joining MYOB, she held executive roles at NZME as Chief Operating Officer responsible for operations across the digital, radio and print and Group Strategy and Operations Director where she brought together the technology group through the transformation to NZME and was responsible for strategy, product and development of new businesses. Carolyn has over 15 years of experience in strategy, marketing, product management, business development and digital media across a range of industries including fast moving consumer goods, telecommunications, security services and media. She is currently serving on the advisory board of New Zealand Asian Leaders and as an Independent Director at Ziera Shoes.  



Multi-award Winning Filmmaker

Leanne Pooley has been a documentary filmmaker for over 20 years and has directed films all over the world. In 2011 Leanne’s work was recognised by the New Zealand Arts Foundation and she was made a New Zealand Arts Laureate. Leanne was named an “Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit” for Services to Documentary Filmmaking in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List. Born in Canada, Leanne’s documentaries have screened in more than 100 countries, and include topics ranging from rugby to the Pope.  



Olympic Athlete

Barbara achieved international recognition by winning New Zealand's only gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the first woman in New Zealand to do so for 40 years. She has had an amazing sporting career spanning nearly 25 years and having two young children still didn't stop her achieving international success. She is now, 5 Olympics later, an Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze medalist, has won 4 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronzes at World Championships, NZ sports woman of the year 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, has been inducted in International Sailings hall of fame, been awarded a MBE for services to windsurfing, and most recently awarded the Sport NZ leadership award.


Women and Leadership New Zealand