International Women’s Day: Women inspiring women

Written by Sophie Silver.

With a fantastic panel, MC and audience of bubbling Kiwi women it was no surprise our IWD event at New Zealand House was filled with laughter, friendship and inspiration.

Organised by the New Zealand Business Womens Network and KEA, it was wonderful to have Bronwen Horton (founder NZBWN) and Laura Young (KEA NZ Advisor) to welcome us all at this year’s event.IWD main

Victoria Macdonald from Channel 4 was our incredible MC who guided the discussion throughout the night as we navigated the theme #Eachforequal, the trending sign suggested as a possible alternative to handshakes in this current climate. Our panelists: Rachel Carrell, Alison Wallace, Emma Rigby, Rebecca Smith and Lizzie Gurr discussed some of the many topics of this year’s IWD and ended the night by responding to some great audience questions.

One of the first discussions of the night was around the power of the Kiwi ‘number eight wire’ mentality, defined as a cliche but as a true cliche. It is something inherent to our upbringing; to see a problem and our gut reaction being to fix it.

View our gallery from the night.

Our panelists key messages

Rachel Carrell, CEO of Koru Kids, a tech company focused on providing quality in-home childcare, began this discussion after being prompted by the question of how she’s empowering an older generation of women with her business. Koru Kids has largely targeted students as nannies in the past but with its impressive growth and demand in areas of London with fewer universities it was necessary to target a new demographic to help address this problem. Rachel raised the point that as Kiwis we are raised with the mindset that “one of the worst things you can be is passive”. When she sees a problem she has always had a desire to fix it because when she looked around it seemed that no one else was.

This mentality was similar in Emma Rigby, founder of Love Your Doorstep. When she settled in Enfield she felt the NZ to UK culture shock of not being able to just lean over your garden wall and chat to your neighbour over a cup of tea. This led her to spend years essentially “warming up Enfield” and furthermore creating Love Your Doorstep, an award-winning community platform and business. It was all driven by a desire to fix a problem, “I just had this burning desire to change it” she explained on Tuesday night.

Allison Wallace, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages UK was angered by the state of the world and this drove her to make change. SOS Children’s Villages UK supports children without parental care and families who are at risk of separation. It’s hard to imagine the amount of work that goes into the kinds of careers that these women have built, dedicating their lives to such inspiring causes and making change in their spaces. So, when the topic of how their success comes about, I was inspired by Alison’s response. She said, “you do well when you enjoy what you’re doing, and I absolutely love what I’m doing”. It’s motivating to think that you can get into a cycle of being inspired to do your work because you love what you’re doing and that creates success. 

Lizzie Gurr, founding partner and COO of Ozone Coffee Roasters has found her inspiration in her mother, who worked full-time and had an amazing career. Lizzie is following in her footsteps with an incredible career herself and balancing being a mum. She’s working to bring more understanding into her workplace to topics of being a parent as well as mental health. She said, “we’re trying to write our own rule book”. Not only for Ozone but furthermore trying to bring this more accepting attitude into the corporate world to make it more agile.”


Not only are all these women inspiring future generations but they’re also setting up the infrastructure for them. Rebecca Smith, Global Director of Women’s Game, COPA90,  is working to provide equal opportunities to girls in the world of women’s football. She’s working to innovate women’s football to normalise it more within society and the media. When asked about one of the leading topics for International Women’s Day 2020: what is one of the best things you can do to empower women, Rebecca explained the power of our words; “you’re part of an audience so your voice matters”. After a night made possible by women speaking up for women and lifting each other up, that felt like a particularly powerful note to end on.

Special thanks to our sponsors, volunteers and coordinators of the night.


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