Events that celebrate and showcase women’s successes play an important role in, says one of the country’s leading agribusiness women.
Dannevirke-based Mavis Mullins, winner of the Rural category at last year’s Women of Influence Awards, says the Awards and other such programmes give women a chance to share their stories and to encourage others.
“It’s about building confidence – about giving women the courage to take control of their own direction, and giving them permission to be themselves: to do business their way,” says Mavis.
Mavis says she was told early in her career that she would need to leave her personal values at the door. It was one piece of advice she was determined to ignore.
“My personal values are central to who I am and to how I work, there is no separation between me the person and me the businessperson.”
Mavis says it is an important lesson for many women to learn.
“You can be yourself and be successful,” she says.
And while Mavis treasured the experience of comparing notes at last year’s Women of Influence Awards with a room full of women who had succeeded in everything from filmmaking to finance, her own sources of inspiration are even more diverse.
“At first, I was strongly influenced by my parents, my father in particular. As I met more people, I came to understand how different various people’s journeys through life were – now, I’m inspired every day by all sorts of people,” she says.
Mavis has a low-key, modest attitude – one she says reflects traditional Maori values of co-operation and humility. It makes her a self-described “reluctant acceptor” of the recognition that has come her way.
“I’m always very mindful of the others: the people who went before me, the people who stood beside me and behind me. We are all cogs in a bigger wheel,” says Mavis.
“Like a tall tower, a successful enterprise needs a strong and balanced foundation. That balance needs diversity – of skills, of knowledge, of experience, of gender and culture. Everyone has a part to play in creating the whole.”
In 2005 Mavis Mullins was the first woman to manage a New Zealand shearing and wool handling team, competing in the World Championships in Australia and bringing home two titles.
As well as holding a number of agricultural directorships, Mavis was involved in the establishment of the 2Degrees network.
She is the patron of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust and a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and will be inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame in July 2017.
Nominations for the 2017 Women of Influence Awards open on April 10; for more information, visit www.womenofinfluence.co.nz.