Paula Kearns

NZ Avocado
Tell us about your background.

I am a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors.  I have over 30 years governance and leadership experience across a range of sectors including horticulture, sport, community, commercial, environment, hotels and hospitality, health and central government.

What do you do now?

Currently I am a Professional Director and I hold governance roles with NZ Avocado, NZ Rugby League, Ministry for Environment, Mount Wellington Trust Hotels, Mahitahi Hauora and Savey Investments Ltd.

How did you get that role? What was the pathway to that?

After returning from a year away in 2019 we purchased our 8ha avocado orchard near Whangarei.  At the same time, I decided to concentrate on a career in governance and was either elected or appointed to these roles.  I was selected in 2020 by the Institute of Directors to participate in there Mentoring for Diversity Programme to support my governance career into appointments onto larger organization boards in the future.

What’s the best thing about your role?

The great people I get to work with.  Also the diversity of my work and the ability to have a wide view across sectors of what is going on in New Zealand.

Do you travel much for the role?

I travel every month for meetings although it is less after covid as zoom is more commonly used.

If you have children how do/did you balance your job and family? What are/were the biggest issues? How did you deal with them?

All the kids are grown up now.  But the juggling act of kids and work is not to be underestimated!

Was being a woman a hindrance or a help in getting this role?

I believe every organization has an obligation to ensure there is balance in the board room as well as the senior leadership team.  Some organizations are more progressive and committed to making this a reality than others.   

Do you have any qualifications?

Yes, I have a Bachelor of Commerce degree and I am a Chartered Accountant.

Did you require any specific education or training for this role?

As a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Director I have ongoing commitments annually to complete Continuing Professional Development.

If you had your time again would you do anything different?

That is a hard question!  If I had my time again I would concentrate earlier on working for myself rather than for others.

Do you have any advice/tips for other women wanting a role like yours?

Join the Institute of Directors and learn about governance.

As a woman involved in horticulture is there anything that you would like to see change that would make your life/role better?

I think horticulture would benefit from more women participating in leadership and governance roles. Women bring different skills and experience and horticulture would benefit from this diversity.

Are you on any Boards? If so which ones

As above