Welcome our July 2023 New Members!

Warmly welcome our inspiring group of new Global Women members from July’s intake! Learn more about them and their aspirations for women of Āotearoa New Zealand.

Samantha Marinus

Managing Partner, DXC Technology

I am passionate about creating an Aotearoa that is open to all New Zealanders.  To provide opportunities and experiences that are equal for any gender.  Giving communities a helping hand in entering work forces without bias.

I am actively building awareness of STEM opportunities that are not based on gender.  Providing role models for women that are immigrants, mothers, partners, and students.

I aim to demonstrate to my daughters and others that women can reach global executive leadership positions in STEM.

Fiona Kingsford

CEO, Plunket Whānau Āwhina

Tangata ako ana i te kāenga, te tūranga ki te marae, tau ana

A person nurtured in the community contributes strongly to society

My aspirations for the women of Aotearoa New Zealand have always been clear to me – that all young girls have both the opportunity and encouragement to reach their full potential.

My wish for them is that they experience a world where they are mentored and celebrated in a place that is free from unconscious bias, discrimination and bullying.  A world where they have equitable access to education and healthcare in a society free of poverty and traditional stereotypes.

My hope is that they will have the strength and determination to take every opportunity and even when faced with adversity, not be afraid to push forward and challenge the status quo.

I know these aspirations are not yet a reality for thousands of females in Aotearoa but I am proud to play my part towards making it happen. As a proud mother of a daughter, this ambition has become increasingly important to me as she begins her journey into adulthood. As chief executive of a large female-centric organisation, female empowerment and support is at the heart of what we do in terms of delivery and culture.

I am passionate about seeing women develop and break through glass ceilings.  I have been heavily involved in mentoring women in business throughout my career as well as a mentor through Auckland University He Ira Wāhine – Women’s Mentoring Programme and through First Foundation – School to University mentoring programme.

Having a strong mentor, someone who is in your corner helping you to navigate your own pathway – no matter where you are in your life journey – is such a rewarding and fulfilling journey to be part of for both parties.

I firmly believe that supporting other women to empower themselves leads to them gaining confidence, developing leadership skills, and feeling confident to pursue their goals. The tangible results of this are seen in career advancement, improved opportunities through networking and engagement and ultimately pay equity.

Caroline McElnay

Public Health Specialist, Self Employed

I have lived in New Zealand since 1995 and I have always admired the women of Aotearoa New Zealand. I was initially struck by their strength and tenacity and sense of equity. There was a sense of “can do” which was noticeably different from the previous countries I had lived and worked in – and fewer constraints in terms of jobs they could do. People who grew up in Aotearoa New Zealand may not have realised this at the time. This strength and independence continue today although now I notice it mainly among young women heading overseas to work and holiday. My aspirations for the Women in Aotearoa New Zealand is that these strengths and values continue to be nurtured and grow and that women are supported to fully realise their own aspirations and potential in employment, relationships and in their family life. I want to see women supporting other women and assisting them to have opportunities to grow their competencies and skills – and have opportunities to show that they already have these skills! I want to see more diversity in ethnicity amongst women leaders to reflect the society that Aotearoa New Zealand is today and for society to benefit from the skills that those women have. I fully support Māori wāhine leadership.

Lisa Crooke

Partner, PwC

Having come from humble beginnings and being the first generation of my family to attend university, I am a firm believer in access to education and having inspirational role models can enable real societal change.  At college when selecting options, the advice given to me was to study for short-hand typing as that would enable me to get a good job as a secretary.  Something innate in me wanted to do more than this.  I was lucky to have my mother’s support to make my own choices and access to university education which at the time was almost free.  With the benefit of hindsight, I realise that I was lacking access to inspirational role models.  My world was small.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  With advancements in technology, that access is available in today’s world.  In my view its incumbent on us all to maximise the positive impact that technology and freedom of information can have.  We need to use the platforms available to connect in a way that resonates.

My aspirations for the Women of Aotearoa are that we are in a society where women are safe from violence and do not live in poverty and have access to safe, warm housing and do not suffer from hunger.  To me these are the minimum standards to which NZ society should accept.  In addition, I believe the Women of Aotearoa should have access to education to achieve their potential for both themselves and their tamariki. It is important that there are equal opportunities available for all.  To me education is the long-term solution and enabler.  It deeply concerns me the gap and societal inequality that exists as women typically bear the brunt of the implications.  These are real structural issues that need to be focused on across the board, from the opportunities that are available at a young age right through to the societal inequality that exists in retirement due to the lower earnings potential women have and generally longer life spans.  These should not be made to be political matters but require long term planning.  By focusing on women achieving their potential then in my view as a country we will all be better off in the long run as we will be a country of powerful female role models and we can address over time the societal inequities.  This will have many ancillary benefits that benefit all of New Zealand.

Having worked for most of my career as a minority in male dominated environments I have experienced first hand the struggle to be heard and recognised.  I fully support 40/40/20 initiatives and have seen the difference in mindset that this can make within organisations even if it is slow progress.  The more inspirational female leaders and voices we have in NZ helping others succeed the better. My aspirations are for the women of this generation to make a real difference to the generations of women that are follow as those before have done for us.

Catherine O’Connell

Principal, Founder and CEO, Catherine O’Connell Law

I have three aspirations for the women of Aotearoa New Zealand stemming from my lived experience inside and out of New Zealand.

My privileged foundational days as a lawyer were spent in New Zealand. But it was only through taking myself overseas, that I found I could leverage that privilege to be an entrepreneur in the legal space in Japan, setting up my own law firm in Tokyo, as the first foreign women to do so. I’m now using my privilege at an even higher level, as a New Zealand women lawyer championing cross-culture diversity, inclusion and governance in Japan. I have the privilege of a seat on two of the boards of large Japanese corporates, again as the first foreign female on these boards.

It’s from this place of privileged firsts that I voice my aspirations for the women of Aotearoa New Zealand.

My first aspiration for the women of Aotearoa New Zealand is “treasure it when you find it and offer it when you can.” Recognize that you can be champions of change because you have historical (first vote), immense innate power and capability to help women of different cultures who are not as privileged. Leverage your wonderfully rich privilege to expand your agency to widen the avenues to success for women of other cultures inside New Zealand. Be women leaders who listen to, understand, and learn from diverse perspectives of other cultures.
My second aspiration for the women of New Zealand is to share your gifts with others to become leaders with a world view. New Zealand is considered a leader in equity and inclusion. Spread your wings beyond the shores of New Zealand to share this leadership. Take the privilege of your talents to the world. Share the gorgeously unique New Zealand way, your education, your upbringing and your talents, as your gift for others. Bring that rich tapestry of other cultures back to New Zealand to encourage the growth of the next generation of women who are inclusive of different cultures.
My third aspiration is for NZ women to find ways to actively hold space for women of all kinds of cultures and backgrounds and consider them as candidates for leadership in your organisations and businesses and to fund their start-up aspirations. Bring more women up the corporate ladder or help them kick off their own business venture. Particularly focus on especially disadvantaged women in Asia. For example, as Japan reaches for its target of 30% women on boards by 2030, you can offer to teach women in Japan about board governance, helping them understand their perspectives are valuable to boards if they speak up. The Japanese government’s goal is for women to make up 20% of the number of female entrepreneurs in Japan by 2028. They are actively encouraging investment in women-led startups by providing women with overseas training. Women of New Zealand are in prime position to offer overseas training opportunities to support the current one in six women venture capitalists.

Rachel Froggatt

International Sport Business Growth and Social Impact Specialist, Away We Go – Matike Mai

Nothing short of full equity. It’s that simple.



Sarah Gillies

Chief Executive, Te Mana Hiko | the Electricity Authority

My aspiration is for the women of Aotearoa to be able to achieve their full potential. That means encouraging women to have aspirations. It means enabling women to be educated in and have opportunities to pursue careers they choose. It means enabling women to manage their careers and personal lives in the way they want to, to achieve their goals. If we enable women to reach their potential, we’ll all benefit.

Jeanne Rogers

Consulting Partner, Grant Thornton

Kia orana kotou katoatoa

My biggest inspiration and role model will always be my mother, she was a beautiful pacific woman, strong-minded, and strict, but in a loving way. I’m not going to lie, we had some mother-daughter disagreements, but ultimately, I was my mother’s biggest fan, we eventually became best friends. One thing that stands out in my memory as a child, was her continuous belief of me. As a child she would always say to me “You have a gift, you will find it one day”.

My parents immigrated separately to Aotearoa in the 50’s, they were eventually united, raising five children in a world grounded in western ideology, no easy feat. For me more so than my siblings, growing up in the 70’s was exceptionally challenging. As a pacific child navigating my way through the Education System, I spent my childhood hiding my learning difficulties through to leaving college. I think my mum knew this of me and that is why she would always tell me I will find my gift one day.

13 years ago, my mum passed away. Before she took her last breath, she again said “Promise me you will keep looking for your gift.” A couple of years after her passing, I discovered that I am a dyslexic thinker. This realization gave me greater understanding of how I think and why I view the world through a different lens to that of my colleagues and kaimahi.

My lived experience, pacific values and dyslexic thinking have kept me grounded and enabled me to embrace my purpose and connected me to my “Why”.

The three pou (pillars) in my personal and professional life that I always look to, are built on the principles of hindsight, foresight, and oversight. These principles I weave into every part of who I am and what I do.

Hindsight – Acknowledge, forgive, and learn past lessons
Foresight – Build a way forward to safely navigate through any barriers to get me to my future state
Oversight – Manage the mahi that will enable me to realise my future state

All of the above leads me to two of my biggest aspirations for the Women of Aotearoa New Zealand:

Working alongside, supporting and mentoring other women who have had similar challenges to me. I saw myself in my mother, she was the strongminded woman who inspired me to be the best version of myself. I would like other women to see the same in me.

Secondly, I want to support and inspire women who are dyslexic thinkers, who share the same gift as I do, but haven’t been courageous enough to reveal their superpower.

Alissa Bell

Partner and Chair of Board, McVeagh Fleming

Alissa joined the Partnership of McVeagh Fleming in 2014 and became the firm’s first female board member in 2018. The partners unanimously elected her as Chair of the board in July 2023. Alissa leads the Family Law practice for the firm. The team originally consisted of two team members and has grown to be one of the largest teams in the firm. She is recognised as a Leading Family & Relationship Property Lawyer– New Zealand by Doyles Guide.