It’ll be no surprise to many of us that 8th March is the International Women’s Day. A day of recognising the achievement and the rights of women all around the world. It is also a day to raise awareness of women’s issues that still plagues our country, community and our family. Some are controversial whether it’d be religion, politics or economics that has affected our lives for years. But today is the one day we all stop to draw attention to these issues, to open a forum for discussion and to reflect on the progress we have made to overcome these issues.


Q1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you were born, where you lived and your career.

A. I was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel overseas at a very young age. Lived and went to school in Brighton Sussex, UK in the late 1950’s and attended primary, intermediate and high school in New Plymouth, New Zealand in the 1960’s, then returned to South Africa in the late 1960’s. 

My career kicked off when I commenced working for Ford Motor Company in a number of positions during my 20 years. My introduction to main frame computers commenced as EDP Systems Supervisor and Model File Analyst in Pre-Production Control and Engineering Dept where I was responsible for setting up all new production roll outs and working closely with programmers who were brought into assist with the setting up of all manual systems onto computerised systems. It is in this position as Model File Analyst where I felt ‘this is where I want to be” and loved the excitement of being involved from the ground of planning and setting up all the models for production right through to the launch of each model.

Q2. When/how did you decide to pursue your chosen career? 
I sort of evolved and kept my analytical skills to move with the times as software changed from desktop applications to the now cloud and digital solutions.

When I arrived on the Gold Coast, I worked as a temp for a few months for a number of fabulous companies. It did not take me long to realise these firms, their computerised systems were not that elaborate and/or non existent to the point, with time consuming manual invoices and statements being generated. I found myself drawn to setting up workflows and implementing systems to train management and staff. It was not long before I realised that I could start my own business to offer bookkeeping and software training. Initially the bookkeeping was processed using manual cash books and journals and in 1992 I discovered MYOB and later became a MYOB Certified Consultant offering computerised accounting support and training. In 2009 I discovered Xero and my journey into the cloud began. Many trips back and forth to New Zealand over the years found me becoming more and more passionate with the APPS world and how these solutions could benefit and enhance my clients’ businesses.

Q3. What was your experience on your path to specialising in this area of work?
Back in 2009, many clients who had only used desktop solutions thought I was nuts and would not have a bar of my recommendations to try out the cloud. It was not easy and many hours were spent giving demos and talking about my own journey into the digital world. With their fantastic marketing and options to move to the cloud, Xero became a household name and more and more potential clients started contacting me to help them move and or meet up and discuss how this new option could help their business. I had a regular flow of enquiries from tradies who realised this is the way to go and some baby boomers who wanted to test the water but worried about loss of data if they changed.

I analysed my client base and decided on specialising in the trades and services with a number of plumbers, landscapers and electricians who I already had but they needed help with job costing and understanding how much profit they actually made on a specific job. So this was the beginning of my journey. Learning some of the best solutions readily available for these services was the game changer for me. As my tradie clients became more familiar with their awesome apps they told their mates and so had a regular flow of “can you please help, xyz told me about how you.”

Q4. What do you see as the one best accomplishment a woman/women have achieved on behalf of the female gender?
Equal opportunities in the workforce. Acceptance of females and recognising their passion /skills in the what was once very much male dominated industry in ‘coding & programming’. Opportunities being able to still find ways to learn and grow every day. 

Q5. What are some of the significant differences you see in your life experience as a woman today compared to what your grandmother or great grandmothers may have gone through? 
My grandmother in South Africa was definitely not the stereotype ‘knitting, sewing & baking’ grandmother. She worked the land growing flowers, breeding cattle and milking the herd to sell their produce. Her passion and time management was instilled upon myself at an early age where I spent a great deal of my time growing up into my early teens. However my gran in the UK was a typical housewife who managed the home while my grandad took care of bringing in the bread.These two matriarchs who were part of my life were so diverse in character and needs compared to the modern woman of today, who have so many roles to fill. The modern woman has many roles, some who are stay at home mums doing the daily chore of school drop offs and sporting events, others who are career women but still need to coordinate carers, meals and school functions. Others who find themselves as single parents needing to juggle the same chores of drop offs, school events and some me time. All of these factors from my own life did not occur because both my sets of grandparents were married with partners who supported and worked together as a team. So when one compares the different generations and the roles they have played the core functions of family caring and life balance is very similar but on a different scale. Children took themselves off to school without being dropped off, if the parent(s) were fortunate to have a second car most day school activities parents did not attend and grandmothers were always happy to babysit. Now there are school drop offs, parents take time out to attend sporting activities and babysitting some have professional nannies and/or children either are picked up and or taken to after school child care centres.

Q6. What’s your definition of a strong woman? 
So many definitions on this subject. A woman does not need to look for validation from society to be something they are not. Able to love oneself and be themselves. Seek and find ways to learn and grow every day and be proud of the accomplishments you have made no matter what profession you choose. Defining their own strength but not afraid to ask for help from supportive friends and colleagues.

Q7. If you could do one thing to help advance the rights/welfare of women in today’s world, what would it be; provided you have the power and the resources to do it? 
Holding perpetrators accountable for violence against women and girls. I believe Making Your Voice Heard – sign up to pledges online. Setting an example. If we want women’s rights issues made a priority, we need to make getting women in leadership a priority, both in business and politics. Vote for women in local elections.

Q8. Who has been a mentor to you? Both male and female
I have had so many people who have reached out and helped me in my professional journey and eternally grateful for their help.

David Barton – CEO TuiBiz, a New Zealand accountant who reached out and offered to help me in my journey with Xero . We met at one of the Xero Roadshows and Conferences. He was a tremendous help back in the early days

Wayne Schmidt – ex Channel & Sales Director at Xero. 
Who challenged me every day back in the early days to change the way I worked, helped me grow my business and upgrade my skills in the Add-On Marketplace. He was amazing to work with and he continues to help others new to this industry of digital solutions.

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