The New Zealand Business Women's Network   28 Sep 2010

NZBWN and Bronwen Horton: Founder

Joseph Hoye

The first in a series of articles detailing some of the associations for New Zealanders in Great Britain.

Any business network must be built on a firm foundation or risk collapsing into obscurity. The drive to make a functional network often comes from an individual willing to raise their hand on behalf of other people. Meet Bronwen Horton: power networker and founder of the New Zealand Business Women’s Network in London.


A Cantabrian for whom the prospect of spending years in the legal profession lost its appeal soon after she graduated, Ms Horton moved into the more stimulating world of finance and banking, culminating in her role with ANZ in London.


Ms Horton speaks about the NZBWN with the assurance of someone who believes passionately in what she is doing. “Kiwis are good at promoting others but not so good at self-promotion,” she says by way of explaining the rationale behind the network. Part of her own ethos is the knowledge that she “is her own brand, even when working for others”, a belief that she is keen to instill in others.


While this self-effacing trait prevalent in New Zealanders can put the brakes on career aspirations, there is another problem that may be a bigger barrier to greater success in the UK. New Zealanders tend to be well-rounded generalists in their professions, even at senior levels, whereas the very male dominated senior management in the UK, with a much larger population to choose from, often expects specialists at a corporate level. New Zealanders may be accused of being flighty, simply because we have exceptionally broad CVs.


Plus it can be difficult to break into any association in the UK, especially if you have not gone to the right school, club or do not already work for a major corporation. The NZBWN is a way for career minded New Zealand women to meet like-minded Kiwis who have already experienced the ins and outs of the UK business environment.


New Zealand business life is unique and our isolation can mean that New Zealand women may face a brick wall when moving to the UK to work. It is easy to take for granted the impact that Prime Ministers Helen Clark, Jenny Shipley, Governor-General Dame Sylvia Cartwright, Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias and others had in reshaping how the professional role of NZ women; lessons that have yet to be learned elsewhere, or so it would sometimes seem.


Of the New Zealand Business Women’s Network, Bronwen admits to a small amount of self-service – after all, the purpose of a business network is to create new opportunities. “It’s easy to get into the humdrum London routine, so we try to touch on things outside of the scope – change it up and keep it real. We don’t just focus on the networking side of things but look for inspiration.” It is this search for inspiration that dwells at the heart of the network.


Case in point: renowned chef, writer and broadcaster Peta Mathias will be addressing the NZBWN in October, sharing her thoughts on relationships in a business context.
This is not the type of network where members sit down and trade business cards while swopping oral CVs in two minutes. Events revolve around New Zealand, the obvious commonality, with dinners, guest speakers, theatre and product showcasing all taking centre stage.


Some of the members of the group are well known and well connected in their own right. Anna Hansen of The Modern Pantry, Maggie Eyre – one time professional coach to Helen Clark and Janiene Bayliss of Te Mara Estate are all members and there are well established women from recruitment, IT, publishing and fashion involved. These are gutsy, typically Kiwi women used to working in the corporate world or running their own successful businesses and attuned to the advantages and opportunities that professional networks afford them.


The New Zealand Business Women’s Network is run on a voluntary basis and there is currently no fee to join. Events do carry a charge and always sell out, with women flying in from Paris, Rome and Hamburg just to attend. It currently meets every two months but there are plans to add some more specialized meetings where people working in or interested in particular sectors can meet.
To learn more about Bronwen Horton and the New Zealand Business Women’s Network, please visit http://www.nzwomen.co.uk/

Part 2: The New Zealand Society


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