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Half-day summit to improve skills and boost confidence

Encouraging young women into careers in NZ's primary industries.

Be “unapologetically ambitious” and “pursue your most audacious goals”.

That was a message from girlBoss NZ founder and chief executive Alexia Hilbertidou to a group of students in Gisborne this week.

Miss Hilbertidou was among those at a workshop designed to empower young women and encourage them into the primary industries.

About 40 students from Campion College, Gisborne Girls' High School and Te Waha o Rerekohu in Te Aroha attended the half-day summit at Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club.

“It was fantastic to be in a room full of such inspiring and ambitious young women who are passionate about being the change-makers of tomorrow,” said Miss Hilbertidou.

The workshop was a collaborative initiative of GirlBoss and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Its aims included getting more young Maori and Pasifika women to consider careers at MPI and in the primary industries.

“We want to showcase the primary industries as an attractive career choice and create a pipeline of future potential employees for MPI and the sector, said MPI spokeswoman Kirsty Robben.

The students learned about the skills needed to be a leader, personal branding, interviewing and networking — all within a fast-paced and fun environment.

They received mentoring from MPI female leaders, who shared their personal career journeys and showcased the wide range of careers that interact with the primary industries.

Among these mentors were people working in Maori agri-business, human resources and kaimoana customary fishing regulations, a senior fisheries analyst working on fisheries impact on Hectors and Maui dolphins, a fisheries officer and a national animal identification and tracing (NAIT) officer contributing to farming biosecurity.

The students got to interact face-to-face with female role models — who often defied gender stereotypes — working in exciting jobs.

“You can't be what you can't see,” said Miss Hilbertidou.

“It is important for young women to see the incredible work these role models are doing so they can be inspired.”

Among the tasks students did at the workshop was come up with a quickfire sales pitch of themselves.

“I think there is power in knowing who you are, what you stand for and how to make that visible, so you learn about values and controlling your own narrative.”

Miss Hilbertidou said young women sometimes lacked the confidence to share their stories and to stand up and speak out.

“There is real power in your voice and what you say that deserves to be heard.

“We want to encourage young women to be unapologetically ambitious and pursue their most audacious goals.”

Ms Robben said they were impressed by the ambition and tenacity of the young women.

Staff enjoyed telling their career stories and giving back to the next generation.

“The feedback from the students has been fantastic and shows that these summits will ensure the young women can see themselves as future leaders of the primary industries.”

GIRLBOSS SUMMIT: Gisborne and East Coast secondary school students at a workshop aimed at encouraging young women into careers in the primary industries. It was presented by GirlBoss NZ founder and CEO Alexia Hilbertidou (below) whose mission is to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, maths, entrepreneurship and leadership. GirlBoss has become a network of 13,500 high school-aged members nationwide with programmes implemented in 55 schools across New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands. Group picture supplied, Hilbertidou picture by Paul Rickard
GIRL POWER: Founder and CEO of GirlBoss NZ, Alexia Hilbertidou. Picture by Paul Rickard