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Kathy Wolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand

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Welcome to our Beyond Recruitment Women in Leadership series, dedicated to the journeys of women in leadership across New Zealand businesses. There’s currently a lot of discussion around women not being in leadership roles, not joining the executive ranks or not serving on boards. We’ve found however, that there are so many stories to share of women who have done well in leadership, and so many organisations that are running fantastic programs to allow women to grow in leadership roles.

This week we have the pleasure of interviewing Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive at Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand. Kathy reflects on her career to date and shares her views on diversity, as well as providing some pertinent advice to those women looking to move into a leadership role.


Diversity – Walking the Talk

As Chief Executive of a truly diverse organisation with 11 teaching bases throughout New Zealand, Kathy spoke about the diverse nature of her employees, and the true difference that diversity makes. She highlighted the importance of ‘walking the talk’ and going beyond policy, embedding it into every facet of your organisation and acknowledging the different perspectives that people bring.

When asked about the advice she would give people who wanted to create more diversity in their organisations, Kathy spoke about embracing it, not just internally but with external stakeholders as well. Using Tikanga Maori as an example, she shared the importance of powhiris, sharing kai and singing waiata. Kathy also touched on the importance of acknowledging other nationalities you come into contact with.

Taking the Next Step into Leadership

Kathy reflected on the earlier parts of her career and working in a male-dominated world, and although she mentioned that it hasn’t exactly become easier, there are much more opportunities available. She thinks it is really heartening to see more women aspiring to leadership roles (and succeeding!). 

When it comes to taking the step up into leadership, Kathy recommended that women surround themselves with people (mentors and subject matter experts) that can guide them in that learning. She also suggested that empathy, sticking to your core values and being assertive as key strengths for aspiring leaders. Kathy reiterated that the role of a leader is to make others successful (which in turn makes yourself successful). This means empowering others, providing them with the tools and resources to succeed in their roles, whilst holding them to account – it all helps with growth and learning!  

With Thanks

We would like to thank Kathy Wolfe for taking the time out to share her experiences, expertise and advice with us. Keep an eye out for the next edition of the Women in Leadership blog series , and if you have a great story you’d like to share, then feel free to get in touch.