Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am a proud Southlander, born and bred in Invercargill. I attended James Hargest High School and graduated from Massey University with a Master of Management.
I then went on to run the Centre for the Study of Leadership at Victoria University of Wellington where I researched Maori leadership under the guidance of kaumatua such as Sir Paul Reeves, Sir Ngatata Love, and Matene Love. I applied cultural values, such as whanaungatanga or connectedness and utu or reciprocity to her research and looked at how effective leadership brought together a diverse group of people - a concept called Allophilia.
Then I founded Goodworld with the mission to make payments a force for good. Goodworld was recently named one of the World's Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company magazine and was awarded a Timmy as DC's Best Tech Startup.
I was also recently honored as New Zealand Woman of the Year (community category), 100 Most Powerful Women in DC by the Washingtonian magazine and one of Washington Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” business leaders.
What does Goodworld do, and how did it get to be where it is today? What drove you to focus on this particular cause?
In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge overtook the internet, enhancing the rising connection between social media and philanthropy. Goodworld was created to establish this link and weave charitable giving into everyday life. Our first suite of products involved charitable donations on social media and the web with #donate, a unique tool that allows people to donate to charities by typing #donate on Facebook and Twitter and by swiping up on Instagram.
More recently, we’ve acquired Cheerful Giving, so our suite has now expanded to include more innovative ways to donate including giving pages, text to give, donor CRM, Round-Ups, event ticketing and auctions, and matching donations. To date, Goodworld has facilitated millions of donations for thousands of charities including National Geographic, Greenpeace and Oxfam International.
Our payments technology is used by over 3,500 of the world's top charities as well as large financial institutions such as Mastercard and PayPal. When combined, all of the tools that we offer contribute to our overarching goal of making charitable giving accessible to all and helping businesses use their work as a force for good.
Do you have any particular role models, in or out of the industry you work in?
The Dalai Lama has been a huge role model and inspiration in my life for some time now. A key principle of the Dalai Lama is the Heart-mind, which represents a need for people to educate their hearts as well as their mind. Goodworld allows me to exercise this principle in real life: focusing on charitable giving allows me to educate my heart and operating as CEO encourages me to view everyday as an opportunity to learn and grow, so I am constantly educating my mind. Charitable giving begins with the heart by picking a cause that you are passionate about, but it also involves being knowledgeable of your impact and adopting a mindset that will encourage you to be consistently selfless.
What are some of the principals you value when it comes to being a CEO?
There is so much value in creating a powerful vision and empowering your team to follow it. With Goodworld, we have the ability to help change the world just by coming to work. My team is aware of the positive impact that their effort has resulted in and that inspires them to get out of bed in the morning ready and willing to contribute to a larger cause. Setting an intention and a goal for your business is one of the key tasks to being a CEO, but actually applying these intentions by rewarding your team for their hard work can encourage them to perpetuate their positive impact and continue to produce excellent results.
What advice would you give to women looking to start their own business?
According to The New York Times, the number of women-owned businesses has grown to nearly 13 million since 2014. Women are putting an end to the ideology that business is a male-dominated field. As a female CEO who began her business during this boom, I encourage all women to master the numbers, or the financial side of the business. It can often be challenging for women-owned businesses to find necessary funding, which is why understanding what is needed to scale your business is helpful. Show future investors the value of your mission, create an expansive network that will support you, and present yourself with audacity. Keep pushing your business model until you nail it. Once you reach that point, it will become much easier to sell your business with confidence and overcome any inhibitions that being a woman in this field has placed on you.
Did you anticipate Goodworld growing to the extent that it has?
We actually see something much bigger - an ecosystem of business, nonprofits and brands. We are building a true social ecosystem for good. With thousands of the world’s leading nonprofits and our growing community of brands and influencers, creating social impact is now a part of everyday interactions. We are getting there one step at a time.
What value do you believe Kea offers to entrepreneurs in the US market?
Kea is an anchor that connects you to the business world back in New Zealand. It's an incredible support network. Since over one million Kiwis live outside of New Zealand, it’s important to stay connected to our roots and interact with Kiwis across the globe. Especially as a female CEO, I find it extremely valuable to seek advice from and help support other Kiwi women who lead similar lives.
What's something that you've learned about yourself through this whole experience?
I think that the Dalai Lama says it best, “The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless you will be.” I believe that I am at my best when I’m in service to others - my family, friends, colleagues, the earth and the whole Goodworld community. While building a profitable business is important as a business owner with lots of investors, I’ve tried to build my business so when I succeed, everyone succeeds. If I get ahead of myself, or too big for my boots, that’s when things start to go wrong.
What's next for you, and Goodworld?
Goodworld will now be operating under three brands: Goodworld, Cheerful Giving, and GoodBusiness, all accessible via Goodworld’s website. This means that our original suite of tools has expanded and now reaches a much wider audience. GoodBusiness, our most recent addition, is a CSR platform that amplifies any company’s ability to have a positive impact. It encourages businesses to not only develop a philanthropy program, but integrate philanthropy into their company culture. Workplace giving and volunteering can enhance employees’ connection to their work while additionally helping to scale a business. We are only getting started. You can expect to see more unique tools from us that integrate charitable giving into everyday life.
Personally, in the coming years, I hope to be able to balance my life more between New Zealand and the United States. Contributing and giving back in both countries.