Speaker Series celebrates business women changing the face of their industry

What do a fashion designer, microbiologist and eco-conscious beauty product pioneer all have in common?

They are Kiwi business women at the forefront of change – and the key note speakers at a brand new event happening in Tauranga.

Hosted by Business Women’s Network (BWN), in partnership with Cooney Lees Morgan and Craigs Investment Partners, the inaugural BWN Speaker Series brings together inspirational, influential and innovative women from around New Zealand and the Bay of Plenty to share their insights into the new ways of doing business.

BWN is a networking group formed by women, for women, as part of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, with a goal to connect local women to exciting and engaging opportunities.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce event organiser Anne Pankhurst says the Speaker Series theme, The Changing Face of Business, addresses the fact that in today’s world doing good businesses isn’t just about financial profit – it’s about how you look after your people and your place in the world.

“Companies are scrutinised or praised in real-time for the decisions they make that impact not only their customers, but society as a whole. They must demonstrate values, such as social responsibility, diversity, kaitiaki, and sustainability in their corporate strategy.”

Anne says the selected speakers are founders, owners or senior members of companies and organisations that have embraced this ideology, and expects the event to promote some real ‘food for thought’ for its attendees.

Anne says, “We are asking our speakers to share how they have had to think and act creatively, challenged the status quo and taken risks in order to achieve the success and positive reputation they have today.”

The event’s key note speakers are no strangers to the public eye. Known for her androgynous and offbeat designs, Karen Walker first launched her label in 1989 but rose to prominence in 2000, when she debuted at New York Fashion Week. Having launched her label at age 18 with just NZ$100 and two T-shirts, she now presides over an international fashion, jewellery, and accessories brand that has won over the likes of Meghan Markle, Michelle Obama and Priyanka Chopra.

Today, the brand is available at retail in 42 countries, 200 cities and 1020 stores including Barneys New York, Liberty London and Harvey Nichols. In 2014, Karen was deemed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to fashion design.

Dr Siouxsie Wiles has been one of the experts at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. For that, and many other reasons, she was named the Supreme Winner of the 2020 Women of Influence Awards.

Siouxsie studied medical microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a PhD in microbiology at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford. She spent almost a decade at Imperial College London, before relocating to Aotearoa New Zealand as a Health Research Council Hercus Fellow in 2009. Siouxsie heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab, where she combines her twin passions to understand infectious diseases and to find new antibiotics. 

Key note speakers from the BWN Speaker Series

Brianne West is a New Zealand eco-beauty entrepreneur and founder of Ethique, which claims to be the world’s most sustainable beauty brand. A qualified biologist, Brianne established Ethique in 2012 while completing her second year of a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Brianne describes Ethique as being on a mission to rid the world of plastic waste, with a focus on the beauty industry. She believes that pushing responsibility for dealing with product packaging onto consumers isn’t working – businesses need to take responsibility for the entire life-cycle of their products.

The key note speakers are joined by a whole slew of other inspirational women from companies that live and breathe the event’s values.

These speakers include (pictured above, left to right):

  • Jennifer Del Bel (Founder, Downlights)
  • Jennifer Boggiss (CEO and Founder, Heilala Vanilla)
  • Clare Swallow (Director, Mulberry St)
  • Fiona McTavish (CEO, BOP Regional Council)
  • Gordy Lockhart (who will be giving a quick overview of The Kollective before Tania Wilson from Momenta). 

The Speaker Series events are to be held on Thursday, May 27 and Thursday, July 8, from 1pm – 5pm at Trinity Wharf Hotel.

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