Speakers: Various (see programme)

Hosts: GWN and Auckland GWN

Venue: Sky City Convention Centre

Date: 26 September, 2019

Attendance: approx. 500+

This event summary was provided by Kate MacDonald and Marianne George, members of Inland Revenue's Women's Network. Kate and Marianne tell us about their experience of the Summit and key takeaways.

On 26th September we went along to the Women in Public Sector Summit at the Sky City Convention Centre. Overall it was a very worthwhile and inspiring day, with a bunch of inspiring women sharing their personal stories with 500+ attendees and bringing a woman's perspective to leadership. We walked away feeling super inspired (also full of yummy sugary donuts) and we want to share with you some of the things we took away.

Personal stories

Throughout the day, other women shared their personal stories and they were amazing to listen to. The story Angela Lam [former Auckland GWN Chair and one of the Summit speakers] told stayed with us.

Angela previously worked for IR as an investigator. She openly shared her story… growing up with parents who gambled a lot and had low expectations for Angela’s career, she felt like the ‘adult’ in her family – compliance was not a priority for her parents, they would frequently argue and blame one another for their gambling losses, yet Angela worked for IR and she had a deeper understanding and a firm perspective of their problem.

Doing well at work was really important to Angela, she wanted to get ahead, give all of herself and connect. Being Vietnamese herself, she was really searching for a role model from her own culture, she felt disillusioned when she couldn’t find anyone and then she had a big ‘ah-ha!’ moment: “I’m the role model that I’m looking for!”

Our key takeaways from the day

  • Know your why. It’s the why that will anchor you through tough times, strong opposition, and give you the motivation to keep going.
  • Vulnerability drives connection. It shows strength to be vulnerable and showing vulnerability enables us to connect with others.
  • It’s OK to admit to finding something difficult. It’s more than OK to invite other people to help solve it.
  • Career development is not always a linear path. It’s OK to take a career step backwards and ‘lose the ladder’ to learn something new that will grow you.
  • Believe in yourself. Remember you don’t have to meet ALL the job requirements to confidently apply for a new role. 
  • Resistance is not negative. It’s part of the change journey. If people are reacting negatively to your idea, it’s also a positive sign that your idea has the ability to help people think in a new ways. Don’t rush out and change your idea if you believe in it – they may just need time to adjust.
  • Be your true authentic self. Or as Oscar Wilde says, “Be yourself because everyone else is already taken.”

We found the day inspiring and thought-provoking. Closer to home, we felt proud when thinking about some of the great women we have [at Inland Revenue], some who have gone through really challenging experiences and shown extraordinary courage and vulnerability at the same time, which helps us to connect with them on a human level.


You can see a selection of images from the Summits on our Auckland and Wellington Summit gallery pages.

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