Women in leadership: making it happen

I was recently part of the panel at the 2nd Women in ICT and Digital Leaders’ Summit which, this year, focused on Making it happen.

There were a few reasons I was excited about this opportunity. Firstly, meeting women who were carving their place in the ICT and Digital areas of their industry and secondly, understanding the remarkable drop in the number of women who are leaders in New Zealand business.

According to the Women in Business report by Grant Thornton, New Zealand now ranks among the worst in the world for women on company boards. As for senior teams, 31% were women in 2004 but this dropped to 18% in 2018. I believe the numbers are even lower in ICT and Digital.

The data provides food for thought, especially when we consider that 125 years ago New Zealand became the first nation in the world to give women the right to vote. It seems we’ve taken a step back, which makes me appreciate the importance of business conferences now aimed specifically at women.

At AA Insurance, well over half the employees are women, including our CIO, and we’ve previously won the ANZIIF Women’s Employer award. This makes me incredibly proud of where I work, but does make me wonder why gender equality isn’t commonplace everywhere.

Perhaps it’s related to our panel’s topic: showcasing inner greatness.The experience of the panel was broad, so we each had our own definition. For me it’s about being confident in who you are, and being comfortable in your own skin so as a leader you’re able to mine the gold in others and acknowledge and celebrate other’s success. It’s also about learning from those who have inspired and mentored me. Along the way I’ve learnt the following things from them:

  1. Personal values - At AA Insurance we know that one of the key drivers of success is our genuine values, it’s our internal company conscience that guides how we operate. It’s just as important to know your own personal values. This will help you understand how you are wired and why you may feel so passionately about some things and not others.

  2. Greatness isn’t born, babies are - Greatness is grown and developed. Instead of the mantra ‘fail fast’, I prefer ‘learn fast’. You will have fails but embrace the learning and keep going. You’re not the first to fail and you won’t be the last so it’s ok, just learn from it.

  3. Desire to be better and do better - Sometimes this mean making a horizontal move in your career to broaden your knowledge, skills and expertise. If that is what works for you, do it!

  4. Mentoring and being a mentor – Surround yourself with the right people. Find people who are ahead of you in the direction that you want to go and ask them to be your mentor - draw from them. Some things are better caught than taught and you will get that from hanging around the right people. I’m grateful to so many people who have mentored and guided me both in my personal and career journey. Also make yourself available to mentor others, this will help you grow and develop as a leader.

  5. Make use of available resources -  Go to conferences and check out the tools and materials your employer offers. We live in fortunate times where the internet has made a lot of these tools very affordable. Find people who inspire you and delve into their material and follow them on social media. Three people that are significant influences for me right now are Tom Bilyeu, Danny Silk and David Allen. I’m reading their books, watching their TED talks and Youtube videos, and following them on other social media.

  6. Be you – As Dr Seuss says “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” You won’t ever be the best version of anyone else but you can be the best version of you! Know that there is greatness inside you.

Finally, seek out and seize those opportunities. Be proactive, own your career journey and make it happen!  

Image: (L to R) Kata'one Kaho (Digital Delivery Manager), Yvonne Wright (Solutions Delivery Manager), and Justine Burn (CIO - Technology, Digital Capability and Transformation) at AA Insurance.

Kato'one Kaho

Digital Delivery Manager, AA Insurance

About AA Insurance

AA Insurance is an independently operated, New Zealand-based joint venture between the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) and Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (VINZL). Since 1994 we have demonstrated trusted expertise in home, contents and car insurance in New Zealand, and in 2018 introduced commercial small business insurance. We underwrite our own policies and sell direct to New Zealanders. Our 930+ staff look after over 480,000 customers with 970,000 policies.

We proudly partner with Variety NZ and Eden Park and have been consistently recognised by: Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands (since 2011) and Quality Service Awards for Car, and Home and Contents Insurance (since 2015), Kantar Customer Leadership Index (since 2019), Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customers (2011-2018), and the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index (since 2015) that recognises New Zealand’s most successful companies. AA Insurance was also named Consumer NZ People’s Choice award winner for car, home and contents (2019 and 2020).

AA Insurance has an AA- (Very Strong) Insurer Financial Strength Rating given by Standard and Poor’s (Australia) Pty Ltd. For further information visit aainsurance.co.nz.

For more information please contact:

Rachael Joel, Botica Butler Raudon Partners, (09) 303 3862, 021 403 504 or rachaelJ@botica.co.nz

Amanda Fifield, AA Insurance, 027 406 1787, amanda_fifield@aainsurance.co.nz

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