Our Stories: Bianca Robinson

Written by Ruth Keeling.

Bianca Robinson1“Thriving is not a straight line, it’s always a wiggly line”, says Bianca Robinson, chief executive of CEO Sleepout, a UK charity which gets business leaders involved with initiatives fighting homelessness. “You have to be resilient and crack on… until the right thing finds you.” Bianca, a Kiwi from Wellington who has lived in Saltburn-by-the-Sea for more than two decades, found her purpose leading CEO Sleepout’s city-by-city campaign that encourages business leaders to rough-sleep in the open for a night for sponsorship. As the organisation’s only full-time employee, she fundraises more than half a million pounds annually from events held over the UK, from Northumberland to Portsmouth. Funds raised through high-profile ‘Sleepouts’ go to grassroots initiatives which improve rough sleepers’ access to opportunities, role models, education, housing and the mental health care system. 

Our Stories: Bex Smith

Written by Ruth Keeling.

Bex Smith 1Many Kiwis watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia this year were swept up for the first time by the high performance level, the worldwide media interest, and the sheer entertainment value of women’s football. Retired NZ football star Bex Smith has long been convinced that the women’s game has even more global potential than men’s football. Now living in London, Bex has built a second career beyond her personal sporting success. She has promoted women’s sport internationally as a FIFA executive, media producer and now through her global consultancy Crux Sports.

Rebecca Smith played for the Football Ferns for more than a decade, and was captain of the NZ national team for the Women’s World Cup 2007 and 2011, and at the 2012 Summer Olympics. In parallel, she played professionally in the US, Australia, Sweden and Germany, finishing her club career in 2013 winning the Triple UEFA Champions League, German League and German Cup with VfL Wolfsburg. At the same time, she completed degrees at universities in the US, Germany and New Zealand.

Our Stories: Rebecca MacDonald

Written by Ruth Keeling.

Bex McDonald

An overseas experience in the UK is often a career-defining opportunity for young Kiwis to gain professional experience not available at home. But for New Zealand business women coming (or returning) to the UK later in their career, it is often the wide-ranging, high-level leadership experience which they have developed in New Zealand’s smaller markets that makes them the perfect fit for specialist roles abroad. Former Air New Zealand General Manager of Property and Infrastructure Rebecca MacDonald has experienced both types of ‘O.E.’. She returned in April this year, 14 years after her initial London stint, as the UK Director for Property Assets for the Marshall Group Property in Cambridge. 

Our Stories: Rosemary Coldstream

Written by Ruth Keeling.


Rosemary Coldstream’s flowering English garden is heavy with summer rain, so it feels strange to be sitting in it discussing heat-resistant and drought-tolerant garden design.  “Landscape gardening will change radically in the next 15-20 years, because of climate change”, she says. While her clients typically desire a traditional English mixed garden, with trees, shrubs, perennials and grass lawn, Rosemary is certain that the favoured pittosporum and hebes - and even birch and oak - in the UK will have to give way to a Mediterranean or South American plant palate. “With any garden, you've got to tailor it to the site,” she says.