Here at Z, we believe a balanced world is a better one. For International Women’s Day, we are celebrating women’s achievements by sharing the insights of some of our own inspiring women. Meet Jessie, Menorah, Abby, Victoria and Lynette – five incredible women at different stages of their careers. Here’s what they shared when we asked them for insights and advice about their working lives.
1. What’s your job at Z?
“I’m one of Z’s Retail Pricing Analysts, plus I’m the Wetstock Analyst for all our networks.” - Jessie Alexander
“I’m Z’s Biodiesel Plant HSSEQ (Health, Safety, Security, Environment, Quality) Manager. I’m based at Z’s biodiesel plant, Te Kora Hou, in Wiri, Auckland. My main responsibility is to look after the plant, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone on site”. – Victoria Palma
“I’m Z’s Innovation Intern – I do a little bit of everything and a lot of learning. I work on Fastlane predominately as well as marketing and projects.” – Menorah Gafa
“I am a member of Z’s Board and the incoming Chair.” – Abby Foote
“I’m a Z Retailer operating 10 Z retail sites in the Bay of Plenty.” – Lynette Gillies
2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Coaching site personnel and contractors to ensure people have the skills they need to do their job safely and the site meets our legal obligations. I enjoy investigation and troubleshooting to help me understand more about the plant and its operations, understanding people and what drives them, and how to improve safety on site.” – Victoria
The analytical nature of my role really scratches the inquisitive and logical parts of my brain, plus there’s lots of creative problem solving involved. There’s also room to create your own playbook and own the things you want to get after.” – Jessie
I have 100 people working for me - seeing these individuals grow in capability and confidence is one of the things I love about my role.” – Lynette
I love working alongside the smart and motivated people who are part of Z to tackle the increasingly complex issues all companies are facing in today’s world.” - Abby
3. Why did you choose the career path you did?
“A governance career enables me to do a job which provides great intellectual stimulation; the opportunity to work alongside smart and committed colleagues; the opportunity to learn new things; and a variety of challenges, while also enabling me to balance career and family so I can play an active part in the lives of my three children.” – Abby
“My mum is a doctor and until my last year of high school I said I was going to be the best doctor in the world. Then, at the last minute, I just felt that business was the right thing for me. So, on a whim, I chose to study business.” - Menorah
“I had someone believe in me when I was 18. She was an entrepreneur who gave me my first role as a site manager, mentored me and made me see I could be successful and have my own business later on.” - Lynette
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges women face in the work force today?
“I think it is the rising expectations and managing them. There’s so many opportunities for women now, and greater equality, which means women need to manage their own and others’ expectations in order to excel in all areas of their lives.”. - Menorah
“Not having enough time! The challenge that I see most often is finding a way to balance the variety of things that most women have going on in their lives between family, work, friends and living a healthy life. To be fair, these are challenges that are not solely faced by women.” – Abby
“I think there’s a perception that the strides in gender equality that have been made over the years have been enough - that inequality no longer exists. But inequality (much like diversity) is nuanced and complicated. To me, that’s why it’s so important to keep noticing inequality and questioning – from a place of empathy, rather than blame or judgement - even if it means we might have to dig deeper into our own beliefs and behaviours.” - Jessie
“Operational workers are usually mostly men, and being a woman in this workforce can be challenging at times when they think that you don’t know anything about operation plants. I’ve only heard it a few times in my career and I always make sure that they ‘eat their own words’.” - Victoria
5. What do you think the future looks like for women in the workforce?
“I’m really positive about the future for women in the workforce. We’ve seen some significant movements in the last few years around flexible working, #metoo and the role of health and wellbeing in the workplace, which have brought focus to the ways in which workplaces can ensure they support women. There is an increasing number of role models that women can look to, with a much broader definition of success than we might have used in the past. I expect this to empower women (and men) joining the workplace today to achieve success on their own terms, reflecting a work/life balance that they are happy with and encouraging workplaces that can adapt to this.” – Abby
“I think it’s critical we continue to champion diversity within and beyond gender. By that, I mean seeing a diverse representation of gender, cultural context, leadership styles and backgrounds.” – Jessie
6. Who is your inspiration/who do you look up to?
“Shirley Edmonds, my boss when I was 18, is still my inspiration. Without her, I would not have had the courage to take the risk and go into business for myself. She backed me and gave me lots of responsibility when I was still young and that gave me a great start. Also, Pink inspires me! She’s straight up, strong and believes in herself. She has sass and I love that too.” - Lynette
"One of my inspirations is Sarah Marshall. She’s an American journalist, writer and podcast host who has done some incredible work about reconsidering how society remembers different events and phenomena. It’s a great reminder of how paradigms and perceptions can shift, about the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of what’s going on around us, and the flow-on effects this can have. (Her podcast is called You’re Wrong About if you’re interested!)” – Jessie
“I’m inspired by all creative problem solvers! I take inspiration from every story I hear of people who have responded to a challenge with innovation, creativity, courage and grit.” -Abby