Published on 07 March 2024

International Women's Day is designed to recognise & support the massive contribution women bring to all facets of our day-to-day lives. We thought what better time to shine a spotlight on a few incredible wāhine we are lucky enough to have as our members.

Teressa Betty - Toitū

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am the (very proud and very privileged) CEO of Toitū Envirocare. At Toitū, we help businesses measure, manage, reduce their carbon emissions, and provide other sustainability related programmes and advisory services. We are owned by Crown Research Institute Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, and have been around for over 23 years. We are a truly purpose led organisation, and every dollar of profit we make is reinvested back into our business to maximise our purpose – to help businesses reduce their impact on the environment from negative to positive, at pace. I work alongside a passionate, committed, amazing group of Toitūians, and it is a real privilege to lead such an incredible group of humans and such an impactful and inspiring business.

What inspired you to pursue your career?

With over 20 years in the legal and banking professions at executive level, including 16 years overseas, working for a business that is focused on purpose, not profit, is hugely satisfying. I love that Toitū is making a very real and tangible positive difference for future generations, by enabling businesses to proactively manage and reduce their environmental impact. It is hard not to be inspired and energised by such purposeful mahi, that benefits both people and planet. I honestly believe that everything I have ever done has led me to this role, with this (amazing) business, right now, and there is nothing else I’d rather be doing….!

What do you think is the best thing about being a woman in the workplace?

We are natural connectors, collaborators, and communicators (with empathy, inclusiveness, and EQ). We are typically great problem solvers, adaptable and flexible, with a natural ability to multi-task and prioritise. These qualities (and so many more!) go a long way towards enabling thriving individuals and teams, and fostering an organisational culture that is built on transparency, trust, connection, and inclusion. We are privileged to be women in the workplace in the current era, where there is a heightened focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The sky really is our limit – set your sights on your goal and go forward with confidence and pride…!

How do you strive to empower other women in your workplace or industry?

By encouraging them:

  • To trust in their own unique and individual style, their experiences and their insights

  • To be authentic and stand proud – stay true to who they are, and not seek to develop what are typically more “masculine” traits in order to stand out, or to be seen or heard

  • To feel confident in their capability and what they bring to the kōrero – if they are feeling unheard or unseen or minimised in some way, to seek the advice of a trusted mentor in order to develop a personal strategy to address. Oftentimes the people who are perpetuating the behaviours that lead to these feelings, are doing so unintentionally. Either way, it is about feeling confident to have a courageous kōrero with those involved, to seek to resolve through honesty and candour (without being afraid to be vulnerable), and to find a harmonious path forward, in which all parties come away having learned something about themselves and others. Going into the kōrero prepared, can help with confidence and a positive outcome

  • To always trust their gut…! I’ve learned that lesson the hard way 😊

And by acting as a positive role model, always striving to be available to provide support, coaching, mentoring, and advocacy

Learn more about Toitū here

Jamie Smith - Soul Capital

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m originally from South Africa but have been calling Aotearoa home for almost 10 years now. I absolutely love being close to the ocean (which Auckland is great for) and I love travelling.

I currently work at Soul Capital as Impact Investment Analyst. We do our best to do good for the planet and our communities through investment. Personally, I would love to see the investment gap between male-led and women-led start-ups close up in the very near future!

What inspired you to pursue your career?

I really wanted to make a difference! That is so generic but I do believe that what I am lucky to be apart of at Soul will positively impact many lives.

Can you share a piece of advice or a lesson you've learned that has helped you in your career?

Say yes. Say yes to any cool opportunity and force imposter syndrome out of the room, especially early in your career when you have very little to lose. I would not be where I am if I hadn’t.

How do you strive to empower other women in your workplace or industry?

There have been a lot of women in my short career so far that have been instrumental in providing me with my next opportunity or even introducing me to my next close friend. I have learnt so much from them, simply by becoming friends with them or bonding through shared experiences. Things they did like include me in their circles, introduce me to like-minded wāhine and reached out when they saw I needed support, really made me feel like I was never going through anything alone. I hope to be able to support other young women entering the industry as well and making them feel safe. In this big scary corporate world that has the tendency to be male-dominated, the gals have to stick together!

Learn more about Soul Capital here

Courtney Walkinshaw - GSK

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a communications manager across GSK New Zealand and Australia, based in Auckland. I look after our media activity, and internal comms, and lead relationships with patient organisations. Outside of work I like hiking, mountain biking, live comedy and doing the New York Times daily Connections puzzle.

What inspired you to pursue your career?

I got into the pharmaceutical industry because I wanted to make a difference to people. I have stayed for the last 16 years as I am able to do that alongside a bunch of brilliant, clever, and passionate people.

Who is a female role model or mentor that has influenced your career, and why?

Within the company I work for we have some great female leaders – the two CEOs of GSK and our partner company ViiV are women, and locally we have had a history of strong female New Zealand GMs, all of whom I admire and respect! The GMs I have worked for have been generous with their career advice and supported my professional development.

What changes or improvements would you like to see for women in the workplace in the future?

For people in general, I would like to see more flexibility not just around hybrid or virtual working, but companies being more proactive about letting people choose when and how they work rather than traditional hours or a standard work week. For example, flexible work patterns, job-sharing, allowing people to work hours that work for them around their personal and family commitments. This would benefit everyone, but especially address some of the issues we see preventing women prioritising their development, accessing promotions, and getting into senior leadership roles which are still massively male-dominated and structured traditionally.

Learn more about GSK here

Kate Murphy - Helios Energy

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I work as an Engineer for a company, Helios Energy, which specialises in the development of large scale solar projects in Aotearoa. I love working for a team who have similar passions and goals to achieve a zero carbon future while delivering meaningful impact to the energy sector and its consumers. Originally from Ireland, I have spent the last 9 years in New Zealand and am honored to call this my home from home. I spend a lot of my free time being active outdoors, and love being connected to nature - so it's easy to see why I chose to stay here.

What inspired you to pursue your career?

Put simply - We need to stop burning fossil fuels and find alternatives. This was inspiration enough. Humans have known the impacts of this on the planet for long enough and I couldn't sit and wait for someone else to help move things along, I had to jump in.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in your industry, and how have you overcome them?

Being an Electrical Engineer in a male dominated industry, I have definitely experienced women, including myself, being treated differently at times. I have been to international conferences where I've come across men in my industry who are from and work in countries where women's rights are not a priority, or even a thing. Each time I have experienced or witnessed awkward conscious / unconscious biased moments towards women, my way of overcoming them is to make sure that my thoughts don't go unsaid to all who are in earshot. Quietly accepting is generally not my style nor do I think it will help improve things.

What changes or improvements would you like to see for women in the workplace in the future?

I like Sweden's approach to workplace gender equality. For example, Parental leave, both parents get an equal share of paid parental leave to take. This has effectively reduced the bias in employment and career progression as men can be expected to take just as much parental time off as women do. It's also very beneficial for the kids to spend quality time with both parents. So in future, I'd like to see us be more like Sweden.

Learn more about Helios Energy here