Mentor Profiles – International Women’s Day

Mar 8, 2021 11:27:18 AM

Inspirational, generous and experienced businesswomen are throughout our network of Business Mentors. On International Women's Day, we asked a few of them to share what their careers have taught them about business success. Their insights are as varied and impressive as their journeys. You’ll see why business owners continue to seek out the support of a Mentor and why we’re always ready to welcome more women to our network.

Divya PahwaDivya_Pahwa

What is the greatest business advice you have received?

‘Work on your business rather than in your business,’ is the best advice I have received. When business owners get busy, time spent on business development is naturally cut to cope up with the routine work. But business development is an investment in the business and has to be made part of your work schedule.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

I’ve been a specialist in certain areas for a long time. I realised that to move ahead in my career, I needed to work outside my comfort zone and learn new skills. I set targets and took up challenging projects to expand myself.

Today when I am in a senior position, I continue learning new skills. This attitude of problem-solving and learning new skill sets has helped to transform me into a trusted business advisor from where I was, being a specialist. So, I don't set boundaries or work within my comfort zone, and I am always keen to work on challenging projects.

What have you enjoyed most about being a Business Mentor?

The opportunity to make an impact that matters and add value with my experience is what I enjoy the most being a Business Mentor. In my role as a business advisor, I am always coaching and mentoring my small-sized clients. So this skill-set of mentoring and coaching businesses comes naturally to me, and I am glad I can share my experience with small business owners. 


Becki ButlerBecki_Butler

What is the greatest business advice you have received?

"This will sort the wheat from the chaff." One of my favourite founders said this to me during the Global Financial Crisis. I firmly believe that the only thing that separates business founders that succeed from those that don't is resilience.

Sure, every now and then, there is a special kind of crazy genius; an Elon Musk, an Anita Roddick, a Richard Branson. But mostly, I believe that simply continuing to turn up day after day and overcome the myriad of obstacles and setbacks, to be almost unreasonable and relentless in your pursuit is the key.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

I can't decide between two things; the first would be launching the Hotel Chocolat's retail business when I was quite young. By 24, I had 150 staff and 25 stores. It was a heck of a steep learning curve in people leadership and with experiences such as landlord negotiations, working with shopfitters and architects, creating new product production lines, and so much more.

The second would be when I started my own wee side hustle One Fyfe last year. I am especially proud of the graft this took and the new skills I have learnt as a result.

What have you enjoyed most about being a Business Mentor? 

I am fascinated by people and the different stories and backgrounds behind the businesses they start. I fundamentally push against the notion that "it's business, it isn't personal". Instead, I believe the very best businesses ARE personal. They are driven by values, purpose, family, and legacy. That is a wonderfully rich and energising space for me.


Judy Celmins


What is the greatest business advice you have received?

To look at your business from your customers’ perspective. For example, when I was a pet retailer in Sydney, I’d cross busy Military Rd in Neutral Bay and just watch. I’d see how people interacted, or not, with the shop. I took note of which stock people interacted with - if they were with friends, what did they comment on? That philosophy really is the cornerstone of business.

In the end, your role as a business owner is to make your customer’s life better. But you can’t do that unless you Ask, Listen, Observe.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

My proudest moments are more about my journey as a person and how that fits into business. I’ve always had a natural ability with business - the whole commercial process of identifying what customers want and need, and fulfilling that desire.

In my experience, and the hard lessons we all go through, I would say the ability to harness my creative skills is the most rewarding. I used to be like most of us and think I wasn’t creative - but that’s not the case at all!

I’m not an artist in the traditional sense. But if it’s about using lateral thinking to solve problems, and creating ideas with the potential to earn an income, then I’d have to say yes, I am an artist.

What have you enjoyed most about being a Business Mentor?

I first started mentoring about 30 years ago in Australia. I can honestly say I benefit just as much from the experience as I know the mentees do. Many of us periodically question our purpose as we go through life. We may ask, “what could I possibly offer that’s of value?”. I know that was originally very much the case for me.

When people actively listen to you, and you know that what may be easy for you is so valuable for others, it's very motivating. It’s like an adrenaline hit. It might be a couple of hours in my day, but the energy it feeds me and the business owner, makes it time well spent.


Carolyn NorthoverCarolyn_Northover

What is the greatest business advice you have received?

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” In business, it’s okay to feel uncomfortable at times and doubt your ability to succeed. Provided the risks you take in business have been well considered, be confident and embrace your decisions. Hesitation can create regret.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

In 2010, I started a Chartered Accounting practice in Dunedin with my business partner. Our decision came after several years of working in senior roles in larger Chartered Accounting firms.

We wanted to combine our skills and knowledge to create a business that could provide excellent service by better understanding our client's needs and tailoring solutions to fit.

Our business grew quickly and became a successful and well-respected firm in the region. The practice had grown to more than 20 when I left in 2019 to pursue new interests in Northland.

What have you enjoyed most about being a Business Mentor?

Business owners are often amazing, creative, and interesting people. In many cases, they struggle to understand how to improve their business from a financial perspective. It is incredibly rewarding to help business owners create positive changes in their businesses. In turn, this creates a very real improvement in their income and their quality of life.


Tiare Sharpe Tiare

What is the greatest business advice you have received?

"In improving your life, ease is not the point; growth is the point". Acting with vision and purpose keeps us inspired. Focussing on fine-tuning our everyday habits and processes is the key to unlocking long term success and growth.

The skills and strengths we have in our toolkit when we start need to be continuously refined. They need to be sharpened and stretched beyond what our current gifts are. So there is always work to be done and growth to be achieved.

Real, long-term, holistic success doesn't come from doing what's convenient, natural or automatic.

To focus on a greater purpose (big picture) requires challenge and contribution every day, which means focussing on the little things. Often our journey to greatness comes from overruling our preferences for comfort.

If you want to be better and do better, you need to be conscious, clear and consistent about focussing on your 'meta-habits'. These are the daily practices and processes that form our routines and habits. It’s the 1% 's that only inch you forward but collectively banked make all the difference over time.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

I've been in business for 11 years now, which, to be fair, sounds far longer than it feels. My greatest career achievement to date would be completing my Masters in Business at Victoria University while balancing my business expansion, a full-time Government job and a young family.

It's not my proudest achievement because I was busy and had a lot on my plate. It's because I had the confidence to back myself to achieve such goals while juggling competing priorities.

It's a point in my career when I truly appreciated that my growth mindset in one area of my work-life could simultaneously have a significant transferable impact on growth across all aspects of my life.

I definitely didn't do it alone, and I had a great support network, but that particular period of my life - successfully completing my MBA while working in two different industries is probably my career highlight to date. I learned and grew a lot, both personally and as a businesswoman.

What have you enjoyed most about being a Business Mentor?

I am fortunate to work with several small business owners. I enjoy the variety of businesses that they represent. Engaging in discussions with them is energising for me because I see the passion they each have for their businesses.

There’s a kind of spark and enthusiasm you have when you're learning things for the first time. It's special to experience that with business owners and support them on their own journey towards success and growth.

In changing times such as these, business owners often have to step back into practitioner roles. It’s a great opportunity for me to sharpen those skills each time I interact with those I’m supporting. I truly value that the benefit goes both ways.

Generosity helps power women in business

The women who shared their thoughts to answer these questions are part of an impressive network of experienced business people who gift their knowledge and time to help others succeed. The benefit of an objective and fresh perspective is immensely valuable. Women Mentors play a unique role in supporting more diversity and equity in New Zealand's business community.

What important advice have you received? If something comes to mind, perhaps you could consider joining our network of Business Mentors and paying it forward. To find out more, please click here.